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Hitman: Blood Money Review

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★★★★

IN AN INDUSTRY DOMINATED BY ANONYMOUS driving sims and faceless shooters, the bald, brooding figure of Agent 47 is like a throwback to the halcyon days of gaming, when digital heroes from the likes of Sega sparkled with personality and charisma. But while the videogame mascots of old were pillars of family entertainment, Blood Money is a brutal experience that’s strictly for adults only.

Offering more than 200 different ways to kill, Blood Money sees players hunting down targets for a shadowy international agency, in turn using the money they earn to buy new guns and upgrade the weapons already snuggled in their assassin’s attaché case.

Unlike its outrageous predecessors, this latest offering forces players to deal with the consequences of their actions, Agent 47’s “notoriety level” increasing exponentially if you try to take out victims in a blaze of gunfire, making it harder to perform future hits as your face is splashed across the front of every newspaper. However, adopting a sneakier approach means your deadly influence goes unnoticed, challenging players to concoct ever more elaborate executions. In the Parisian level, for example, players can sneak into an opera house during rehearsals and swap a loaded pistol for a prop used by one of the actors, allowing them to sit back and enjoy the show as their quarry is killed on stage during a live performance.

Blood Money’s presentation throughout is stunning — especially in the breathtaking Mardi Gras level, where you have to push through the biggest crowds ever seen in a videogame — and its sharp sense of storytelling and faultless visuals also help make this a joy to play. While the action may seem overly familiar to hardened fans of the series, the freedom to tackle missions in your own style means anyone who hasn’t sampled the dubious delights of killing for cash will be utterly captivated.

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