Reviews: Hitman

Be polite. Be efficient. Have a plan to kill everyone you meet.

Hitman is not a repetitive series, which is good. It means that each title is an improvement on the previous one's dodgy mechanics, but adopts a new tone or framing device. Having played all of them, Hitman has been in a slow evolution process.

Codename 47 was a comparatively mild third person shooter, with some requisite sci-fi tacked on (like Assassin's Creed). Very campy, sometimes to its own detriment, and some of the stealth levels were uneasily crammed together with "kill everything" segments.

The second was a more cinematic experience, like The Godfather trilogy rolled into one. Very unfair and difficult, almost to the point of being a retro game. Unfortunately, much of the difficulty comes from the buggy engine, and the game operates on strange logic at times. When you kill a Yakuza boss, only his samurais go on alert - nobody else. And after you jump out the window to escape, they only follow you downstairs if you run across the roof. Otherwise they stay put.

Contacts was very Frank Miller. I love the graphic novel look and the over-the-top rainstorms in each stage. It does a fine job updating Codename's gameplay to gel with the new reliance on stealth. There are lots more sniper's nests, making the WA2000 viable for once. It will become your favorite method of dispatch.

Blood Money was a Tom Clancy thriller. Once again, we're confronted with baffling logic, and the lack of ''stealth' options when killing targets in some levels is depressing, especially toward the end. Fortunately, sniping is fun as ever, and you have plenty of flexibility with how to kill people - if you don't care about high scores, at least. Lots of cool toys to use in this one.

Finally, Absolution is a Tarantino movie. Stealth is still a factor, but 47 is usually on the run from an entire hit squad, which means there are fifty people to kill instead of one. Good game, but a huge contrast from the nice, clean, "kill target and get out" flavor of earlier titles.