“The beginning of the Hitman Assassination Saga…”
If you ever wanted to be a Hitman, an assassin who would be hired by people to do some cool and stylish executions of unsuspecting victims around the world, but holding yourself back because of the illegality of it all, then this might just be the game that you are looking for. If you like stealthy games but are tired of the slow nature of game-play of games like Splinter Cell, and wished for a stealthy game with a bit more of action thrown in, then Hitman: Codename 47 will definitely delight you. That is, if you don't mind some of the most frustrating features of this game.
47, a bald and ugly man with a digitally encrypted pin code tattooed onto the back of his head, is the protagonist of the game. One may wonder what kind of a name 47 is, but there's a pretty good and weird reason for it. The game doesn't have a run-of-mill storyline, nor is it the kind of path-breaking story in contention for an Oscar!!! It has a pretty weird (read freaky) story which may just take you by surprise. But sadly, there's not much of it.
The game begins with 47 waking up and finding himself inside a cell, he gets up from the bed he was previously strapped to, and hears someone calling and directing him through the microphone (speakers). He has no idea about the place or the man calling him. The mysterious voice will guide you through-out this level. You will get into your trademark black-suit, go through the obstacle course, learn close combat and all the other moves that you will be required to perform in this game, and finally escape from the facility. Who could that man be??? And thus begins the adventure.
After escaping, you join an agency and become a professional Hitman and travel to various places including Hong Kong, Colombia, Budapest, etc. to do jobs for your agency. There's not much storyline through the next 8-9 missions. You will occasionally get a couple of notes from the victims you assassinated. But there is a twist right at the very end, which I will not ruin for you.
Since the game belongs to the stealth-action genre, you will get to do various cool chores in order to successfully complete the jobs bestowed unto you by the agency. In the very first mission, you will be required to snipe a man from the terrace of a building. And after it's done, you can simply go down, re-arrange the rifle into the case, and coolly walk past by the gang-members of the victim without being suspected, to the extraction point. You will get to detonate a car with victims in it; you will have to infiltrate the victims' headquarters, you will have to disguise as one of them to do a few jobs successfully, and many other such cool things.
You, as 47, will be able to take the clothes of your enemies' dead bodies and then carry on posing as them. You can sneak up on your enemies and strangle them with fibre wire, or you could just slit their throats with a knife which looks really cool. The missions are of a wide variety and different. You will have to rig cars with bombs, snipe, help achieve freedom for a captured spy, go to the Colombian jungle and retrieve artifacts, kill the drug lord, etc. You will also get to kill a man in his underpants by locking him inside a steam-bath chamber. But, the game has a few very irritating problems with its game-play.
The grey areas of the game hold it back from being a true classic. The pre-mission menu set-up leads to a weapons page where you will have to buy weapons with whatever money you have. But, the money aspect is useless since you always have loads of them. It would have been fun if we were supposed to use it wisely. The map given to you is also pretty confusing to use, and it doesn't show the enemies or the objective. In one mission, you are supposed to kill a rival gang-member, and then attend the meeting with the rivals posing as him. But, you are not shown in the map the whereabouts of this man (objective). So, you will have to run all over the map just to locate him, which results in a few failed tries.
The game-play basics also add to the frustration. It's a chore to handle 47's movement. When you move, 47 will snag to the walls, gates, etc. When you click on the lift panel, it won't do anything. Instead, you will first have to right click on it, cycle through the options and left click to make the lift move. It becomes irritating after a while. You can't use the environment to your benefit. The surrounding doesn't add anything to the game-play.
The frustration is also increased by some not-so-great decision-making by the developers. There is no save-system in the game, anywhere. This means that if you spend 30-45 minutes in a level and fail at the last moment, you are screwed for good!!! You will have to start over the level from the beginning. However, you do get a couple of lives per mission, but it is rendered useless by the fact that once your cover has been blown, it becomes very difficult to get another disguise before the enemy see you again. So, the difficult missions of the game may frustrate you to the point of madness!!! You may be stuck in a mission for a few days.
The game's graphics in today's world of next-gen gaming isn't much to write home about. However, it must have been really good during its time. The jungle looks like a jungle, mansion, temple, trains, hospital, hooker, 47, all look good. Each level has a distinct look about it, may it be the Chinese buildings, mansion, hospital or the jungle levels. Weapons, character models, weapon reloading, environment, etc. all look realistic. The animation of you taking down an enemy with fibre-wire looks great. However, the movement looks odd when you are dragging a body.
There's not much background music in this game. And strangely enough, you don't miss it because of the tension of not screwing up the level. You are always so focused in the game, that you don't miss the sounds of music. The guns, choking of you enemies, voice-over acting, all is ok, but not great. Overall, the sound department is just about alright.
The game doesn't score highly on the re-playability scale. There is no reason for you to replay once you have finished the game. There are no unlockables or multiplayer mode to be found here.
On the whole, this game is just about passable. If you're looking for a cheap game, then be sure to pick it up. You can play it once and move on in life. There are no lasting moments to be taken from the game. The problems of this game have been fixed in the sequels which you should pick up. And then perhaps, to complete your collection, you can pick this one up too. After all, this comes for really cheap.