Review by Eddo89

Reviewed: 04/30/06

Assassination at its finest.

Hitman Silent Assassin is in no doubt as one of the best stealth game to be ever made. It combines normal stealth of avoiding guard patrols, cunning in obtaining disguises and distraction and very decent shooting when you are caught. This is a sequel to the PC game Hitman Codename 47 and you command the same Agent 47, a clone using genes of 5 crime lords. He is an Assassin, you locate and eliminate targets, but it is also encouraged to keep things quiet. This game fails to disappoint and is an amazing game. You could hardly complain about anything as much. Pretty much anyone will take liking into this game, but you will only take the full enjoyment and pleasure out of this title by playing stealth. It is very possible to shoot your way through levels, but you will end up utterly disappointed at the length and difficulty if you choose to play it that way.

Graphics
Hitman Silent Assassin does not give you the most breath-taking graphics you had ever seen, but it still could hold its own against some of the newer games of this generation. The graphics gives you enough detail to play the game without much problem and will not hinder your play because of the graphics. The surroundings are textured as it should is nice to look at it but again nothing has any serious detail, whether is the gun, the character models or the buildings. The blood the appears when you shoot people look nice and realistic, but lacked detail because it don't seem to stand out from the wall or carpet, instead it look more like a stain that is done 10 hours ago with nobody cleaning it. Character models is not numerous, the same ones can be seen a same level and through several levels depending, the only differences is between the type of people there are. For example, police, soldiers, civilians or bodyguards, they look the same within themselves but different from each other, but this could be a good thing as if it is too dissimilar to each other it may actually make the game overly difficult at times.

The design however should receive much praise. Whilst you could not see the finer/smaller aspects of the environment, the environment itself is quite beautiful and done quite nicely. Whether is the Church in Sicily, or the mansion or the mountain ranges in Japan or the age-old buildings of St. Petersburg they look exactly as they should. Realistic in a sense, but perfectly within imagination. This section receives a well-deserved 8/10. Good, but does not stand out amongst other games. But solid nonetheless.

Sound
Fairly mixed department. Let’s talk about the music first. Is extremely good. Many of the pieces are orchestrated thus gives a very "grand" feel to it, enhancing the image of 47 of a very professional assassin. It also uses very appropriate music that reflects the mood or the current situation. There are however not a beautiful piece that you could connect with, only a couple that you feel you could listen for a long time.

Sound effects are a different matter all together. The sound of gunfire is extremely weak, firing a shotgun creates nothing more than a sound that resembles a hand slamming down on a table while the silenced pistols sounds too mechanical but at least it sounds much more better. The explosions are also weak. When a bomb explodes and cause a wall crashing down, why does it feels like I heard it 10 miles away from it looking through a sound-proof glass when I am close enough to get killed by it? Is just sounding so tame. But other aspects are much better if not ground braking. Treading on different surfaces creates different noise, different doors creates different sound. The elevators sound quite nice, but the sound the doors closing is not a whole lot more quiet than a bomb. Voice acting is done quite okay. There are strong accents for the appropriate persons but that is all that you really could say about it other than that it is very solid. In general, the sound is nice, but gunfire really dragged down on this section, score of 7/10 here. Beautiful music is not quite enough to balance out the weak sound effects.

Story
This game's story is really mainly told at the start and at the end. It is about the Agent 47 residing in a church in Sicily where he worked on the gardens and maintaining the buildings. He had resided in this sanctuary to get away from his past as an assassin that kills without mercy, but the past soon caught up. His friend and mentor in the small church, Father Vittorio was kidnapped which effectively forced him to come out of his short-lived retirement. To rescue him, he has no choice but to contact his old employer, the Agency for information on the kidnappers. However, as 47 is effectively a client and he had no money to pay them as he had donated what he earned as an assassin to the church, he has to perform tasks for the Agency and any payment would be used to pay for their service. That is basically how the story opens out for the rest of the game until the final missions. There are a few twists and mystery along the way to make you think and wonder. Is a decent story, the ending is quite well done especially in choice of words nearing the end of the final mission. 8/10 in my mind is an appropriate score. While is quite decent, it sways from the main point too much and is not too emotional which could be due to the nature of the game.

Game Play
For the most part, the game resolves around, enter, eliminate target, and flee area. And best way or rather the most enjoyable way of this is by stealth. Hitman Silent Assassin can be played with stealth or "Run 'n Gun" but the latter method is highly not recommended when playing this series. This game requires some cunning more than anything else.

47 has such a nice tux but for the most parts you won't ever end up still wearing this, but rather the uniform of the guards around the area of the target. This game revolves around finding the right disguise as much as much as killing targets and if you are to make a perfect job, finding the right disguise are vital. But finding them is half a story, this only makes other guards won't shoot on sight but they still can be highly suspicious of you. This is represented by a meter which jumps up and down, and when the guard is overly suspicious it will turn red which eventually will lead to him blowing your disguise. This could be quite frustrating if you are going for the perfect mission as you will get caught easy and most of the time you will not really get a clue on why. At times, you could be in a desert or a field and they could see through your disguise from great distance. Whilst it does not happen too often, this is quite annoying. The game also varies in suspicion for each disguise; you are more easily seen through by wearing a guard’s uniform than in your suit acting as a civilian and also depend on the area.

So what happens when you get your disguise blown? You will be literally swarmed by the surrounding guards. If a guard sees through you, chances are that every single guard will recognize you in that disguise and from that on you have no choice but run and gun or find another suitable disguise. The running and gunning part of the game is not too shabby, the game uses the rag doll physics so when a gun that produces great force fires at a person will knock back the target by a fair distance. One of the main flaws is that you could get through a level by gunning the whole way through easily because of the large amount of health you possess. 47 can take quite a beating before going down while the accuracy of the A.I. can be questioned. It is certainly suffice, but it pales in comparison to other shooting games.

A mission involves, apart from finding disguises and way inside, ways of killing the target. There are the old fashion ways of sniping in from a distance or sneaking in behind for the kill along with very innovative ways such as planting a bomb on his car as well as poisoning their drink. There are also different ways to lure targets into more seduced locations one of such is by placing a pager to draw them out to pick it up then silently kill them while they are doing it. In many missions, there is a pick-up, which may assist in you doing the job, but that only makes up half of it, the other half is taking them to where there use for it. Getting from place to place is quite interesting as well, there is the sewer route as well as taking a free ride from vehicles. There are many locations to do a hit, from the building next door to the room next door. What Hitman Silent Assassin does the best is that almost all key objectives of a mission has more than one way of completion.

47 have a vast array of weaponry in his arsenal, ranging from machine guns to crossbows, fire axe to katana as well as his trademark twin Silverballers and fiber wire. For the most part though, one will hardly use them for any purpose other than collecting for use in missions. This ranges from Anesthetic to render a guard unconscious to blend into the crowd, a disguise may be far more easily blown with the wrong weapons. Other aspects of the game involves hiding bodies, if a body is found and you have taken that disguise you may also be trouble despite the fact you have done nothing wrong. Though surprisingly guards will not notice blood of any sort that may be corrected in future Hitman games. For each mission there a map that assists in finding the ideal route as well and varies in information given depending on difficulty. There are also limited saves during a mission for vital moments but again, the number varies in different difficulties. There are few glitches within the game, only a few of which will is annoying while one may force you do restart the current mission. Overall, the game play is pretty hard to find a flaw and receives 9/10. There is room for improvements especially in NPC and their interactions with you and environment.

Game Length/Replayability
The game is quite long, 20 missions in length (and one more as training in some ways). Varies in length and difficulty, but certainly you will not roar through in a weekend using stealth. After the game is finished, you have the option of obtaining Silent Assassin rating for each mission that unlocks guns. There are also cheats for some fun, especially the nail-gun that may cause a few laughs. There are also different difficulties, though the main difference is the information or game saves in game given and how suspicious the guards are as well as lower health, everything else is the same essentially. One thing is sure though, this will keep you occupied for more than a day. 9/10 for this part, it will receive full marks if the game did differentiate more in different difficulties.

Final Score: 9/10
This is one game you must buy, it is one of the best games available even today and is ideal game to get a feel of the Hitman series and see if you will like the upcoming Hitman Blood Money game. The game is extremely cheap nowadays as it is Greatest Hit game and you will get your money’s worth. If you have a dislike of stealth games, you still should stay away but if you want to get interested in this genre of games, this is the best place to start as is stealth, but a much more easily acceptable to most as oppose to the Metal Gear Solid series and Splinter Cell series and easily ranked as one of the best games of this generation of console.

Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

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