The Hitman games have always been good, but it took four games before IO Interactive really hit its stride and could create a decent murder simulator that didn’t slowly degenerate into a linear minigun romp. Contracts came close, but the darker tone wasn’t nearly as fun or believable as the moral ambivalence seen in Blood Money.
Blood Money doesn’t do anything all that new for the franchise, it just does those things better. The essence of the game is sheer improvisation, with each of the seemingly standalone missions beginning with you in an unfamiliar place that you’ll have to learn all the nuances of before you make a move.
So, like a good hitman, you take your time. Your calculate, formulate, plot and plan. You sedate guards, steal uniforms, hide bodies and collect weapons, set up elaborate traps...and then something invariably goes wrong. Someone turns round at the wrong moment and you’re caught; surrounded by cops with naught but a slip of fiberwire in your hands.
Hitman: Blood Money
Panic...and then response. It’s these moments when everything goes wrong that make Blood Money so good – that and the fact that there's usually at least six or seven different ways for you to accomplish each mission, with plenty of room left for you to mix and match techniques.
In everyday life they have a saying; “they don’t make them like they used to”, but in gaming that may as well translate as “they don’t make them like Looking Glass Studios used to”. If it existed then never would that saying be more true than with Thief: The Dark Project.
Revolutionary when it first came out, Thief was single-handedly responsible for creating and popularising the stealth-em-up genre which was later seized on by the likes of Sam Fisher, though he can’t do the gruff voice quite as well as Garrett.
Mysteriously steampunk in setting, the Thief series tells the story of a young cynic and professional burglar called Garrett who has a heroic destiny laid out before him – but one he wants no part of. All Garrett wants is to slink through the shadows, robbing nobles and avoiding the city guard.
Things don’t pan out for Garrett though and he soon finds himself on the lam from a pair of dangerous religious groups, The Hammers and The Pagans, while being hounded by a secret society called The Keepers. It’s scary stuff to say the least and we haven’t even mentioned the zombies yet.
Postal 2 makes it onto our list, but it manages to do it for all the wrong reasons. It’s unapologetically crude and immature from the moment it starts right through until the moment it finishes...but that does make it worth a look for PC gamers who want to see the other side of things. Be warned though, it's a game that's completely unsuitable for younger players and is really not for the faint-hearted.
Postal 2 itself doesn’t demand vulgarity of players though admittedly. The plot is set over the course of a single week in the town of Paradise, Arizona and your daily objectives are things like ‘Get Milk’ and ‘Go to Church’, so if you have the patience and skill then you can play everything as a pacifist.
More likely though you’ll elect to use the vast and disgusting arsenal at your fingertips – things like a diseased cow's head and cans of petrol. You can even urinate all over enemies if you want (which takes a rather disgusting twist when you catch an STD late in the game) and use kittens as machine gun silencers...but whether you do so or not is up to you.