Games That Nobody Plays Anymore: Hitman Bloody Money

[Games That Nobody Plays Anymore is a weekly series written by Nathan Hardisty with a little title card help from Juan Houter. It’s an on-going series about the forgotten games of yesteryear, and doesn’t totally reflect the title. Remember; nobody stops playing these games; it’s just a title. Don’t make something of it or I will come down to your house and ask you politely to stop. If you have any suggestions for future titles to ‘GTNPA’ don’t forget to leave me a comment!]

I’ve been writing this series for a long while now. A year and a bit. I think I’ve gone through all the horrid games that I’ve encountered, every back-alley delight and everything in-between. I’ve shown some of my own little treasures but now it’s time to get personal. From this game forth, all ‘Games That Blah Blah’ will have had some significance over my life, and I wish to communicate that. It doesn’t necessarily every game I’ll be doing will be good, but this will be a quick change of pace. It’s to liven up the series and perhaps end it on a high note…

Hitman, to me, is the stealth genre. Thief can practically define it, Arkham Asylum embodies the very essence but the Hitman series has just done it. It does it uniquely and each instalment is a high quality experience. IO Interactive decided after Bloody Money that two psychopaths were better than one (Kane and Lynch), and I was generally saddened to see it happen. We’ll see if it finally pays off in Dog Days, but for now, let’s go back to 2006. The great days of gaming. When it was less about trophies, achievements and more about yourself. I’m not old enough to call it nostalgia, yet, but it has that feel.

I spent my whole summer playing Blood Money. I’d wake up, eat, run around for a little while and then spend the rest of the evening just eyes fixated to the screen. I was in a trance, a bold stance. That bald-headed man was not just a player character, but a figure throughout my childhood. Yes, Hitman shows massively grotesque imagery in your eyes, but you have to realise that this was the norm for me. In a way, I was desensitized to it all. Looking back on it now, it was quite healthy for my brains, it helped me cope with what the darkness, in real life, was. Sex, violence and all those bad things. Hitman showed me them all and let me fibre wire them.

Blood Money introduced ‘accidents’, in which you could make your killings look like someone slipped on a banana peel. Not exactly, but you could make it look like their own doing or mistake. I think I spent one time just trying to find all of these and one level sticks out in my mind. I watched ‘Inception’ a week ago (amazing film, Nolan is a master, lots of Kubrick references make me wet) and some of the buildings and what-not reminded me of this level. The opera house, such a massive maze of intrigue. It is the spearhead of Hitman Contracts (the prequel that came before the sequel… ugh Zelda syndrome).

The opera house let you replace a fake gun, which was used on stage, with an actual gun. You could frame people, although this wasn’t reflected in the NPCs (Hitman 5 maybe?), it felt good to get away. One of my targets was one of the actors, so while I manoeuvred through the rafts of the opera house, the gun was fired and the actor fell to the ground. His partner rushed out of his VIP box and down the aisles, while I was sneaking above, setting up a trap. I dropped a chandelier on his head, then walked right out of the door, like any tourist would.

I could go on, seriously, Blood Money is amazing at emergent story. It lets the player find out with pre-determined mechanics, but only dictates where they can be played out. I could have pushed the VIP over the ledge, I could have just gone into the actors changing rooms and fibre wire the actor. I can do anything. Blood Money is not a sandbox, but it peppers its perfectly designed levels with characteristics that resemble that of an adventure title. It’s beautiful, grand and elegant – isn’t death itself the same? Now if only IO got on Hitman 5…

Next week: The best retro game ever made; Shatter

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