Hitman: Blood Money is a stealth video game developed by IO Interactive and published by Eidos Interactive. It is the fourth entry in the Hitman series.
The story follows the life of professional hitman Agent 47, as narrated in cut scenes by a former director of the FBI to a journalist who is interviewing him. The wheelchair-using ex-director recounts how his agency tracked 47 over a two-year period. The game also marks 47’s arrival to the United States. The game was a commercial success, selling more than 2.1 million units. It is the last game in the series to feature composer Jesper Kyd.
In Blood Money each mission is framed around the killing of one or more individuals, which the main protagonist (Agent 47) must accomplish. Standing between him and success are armed guards, security checkpoints, possible witnesses and other obstacles. The player guides 47 through the game’s levels with the help of a satellite map which can be accessed at any time. The map indicates the layout of each topographical area of the level, the whereabouts of 47’s main targets, and other CPU-controlled characters. In order to carry out his mission, 47 may use any method at his disposal to eliminate his targets, regardless of witnesses or violence done to bystanders. Beyond rewarding stealth over bloodshed as is traditional in the series, Blood Money includes features that directly penalize the player for making too much noise and/or being too violent, either toward their targets, bystanders, or both.
Many new features were introduced in Blood Money. These include the capability to climb through more obstacles, improved unarmed combat, the ability to use an NPC as a human shield (and use a weapon to knock them unconscious), the ability to dispose dead of bodies into containers, improved character animations, a new game engine and the ability to upgrade weapons and equipment. Five of the featured weapons in the game, as well as assorted pieces of equipment such as bombs and armor, can be upgraded. Every level contains some method to make the target’s death look like an accident; for example, tampering with someone’s grill to make it explode when it is turned on, rigging a chandelier to fall on a target, or simply pushing the target off a balcony. There are also improvised weapons, such as nail-guns, a child’s air rifle, kitchen knives, screwdrivers, stilettos, cane swords, fire extinguishers, and hedge clippers.
Also added was the Notoriety system. If the player, during a mission, gets caught on CCTV or is witnessed committing murder, Agent 47’s notoriety will rise. Conversely, if the player executes the mission perfectly with none of the aforementioned events occurring, 47’s notoriety will be minimal. However, if the only factor affecting 47’s notoriety in a certain mission is the fact that he was recorded on CCTV, the player may enter the location in which the tape that recorded him is located, usually in disguise, and retrieve it, thus eliminating that factor; if the player retrieves the tape before being recorded, this eliminates the risk of being recorded in the first place. The higher Agent 47’s notoriety is, the easier it will be for NPCs to identify him. Players may use the bribery system to negate accumulated notoriety. Notoriety gained in early missions will affect later missions. Earlier missions in which 47 has gained notoriety in can be replayed in order to attempt to reduce notoriety in later missions. The notoriety system is not enabled on “Rookie” mode, the easiest difficulty setting.
At the end of each mission, a newspaper article is displayed about the hit, in which the content varies depending on the investigation results and the player’s notoriety. It will detail the weapon most frequently used, how accurately it was used, the number of police, security, and civilians killed or injured, and if there were any witnesses. Any injured people will be counted as witnesses, who affect your notoriety. Sketch drawings are also sometimes visible of Agent 47’s face, which grow progressively more accurate as 47’s notoriety grows. The newspaper announces in the headline how many people were killed, whereas executing the target without any problems will simply have 47 as ‘wanted by police’. The article’s title relates to the player’s mission rating. “Silent Assassin”, in which one assassinates the targets as cleanly and quietly as possible, and draws no unnecessary attention to themself, is the best rating possible. On higher difficulty levels, even something as simple as 47 exiting the level in a disguise rather than his original suit will adversely affect the player’s notoriety, as well as deduct $50,000 from their payment for the mission. As one advances further into the game, more and more newspapers containing the headline from the last mission will be scattered around levels.
Blood Money also improved the melee weapons system, allowing the player to lethally throw certain weapons at NPCs. Once thrown into anyone, however, the weapon cannot be retrieved. There is an exception for the hammer, which can be retrieved even though thrown into a victim. Also note that unlike previous games, melee weapons cannot be transferred to the player’s armory.
If 47 renders an NPC unconscious, either by using his syringe filled with sedative or knocking them out with close combat, they will not awaken for the entirety of the level, unlike previous games. In addition, if both uses of 47’s sedative syringe have been used and the player does not wish to use close combat (which increases their violence rating and by extension affects their mission rating), the player may take the person they wish to sedate as a human shield and merely knock them out with their weapon.
47’s ability to hide bodies has also been revamped. In previous games, 47 had to drag the body to a secluded area without “hiding” it, and either eliminate everyone who could possibly see the body where he left it or be quick enough to finish the mission before the next person entered. Now, 47 can dispose of unconscious or dead bodies in containers to hide them from view of guards. If the container’s lid is closed, no NPCs or guards will ever look inside it, thus ensuring the body stays hidden and 47’s cover is not blown. In addition, if 47 kills someone in an elevator by climbing through the hatch and strangling them, their body is also considered hidden, and cannot fall out of the hatch, thereby preventing it from being found.
Blood Money introduced the concept of rival assassins to the storyline. The developers created the Mark Parchezzi character as a sort of foil to Agent 47, for he is “everything Parchezzi is not.” The other “lesser” assassins were there to prove more able adversaries than “drug dealers or similar adversaries. “
Plot: The game begins with a flashback at an abandoned Baltimore, Maryland amusement park, where many people were killed in an accident caused by negligent maintenance of a Ferris wheel. The father of one of the victims calls the Agency and orders a hit on the park owner, Joseph Clarence, who was cleared of all charges. Agent 47 carries out the hit; following that assignment, he receives a string of contracts from American clients eager to hire the legendary hitman.
The bulk of the game takes place as flashback sequences that occur concordant to the present day (2006), in which a journalist and the former FBI Director, “Jack” Alexander Leland Cayne, discuss 47’s hits over the past couple of years (2004 & 2005) and his involvement in them. The reporter, Rick Henderson, arranged to interview Cayne concerning a recent attack on the White House. It quickly becomes clear that Cayne’s real intent is to discuss 47. Cayne lies about many details, such as stating that 47 stole cloning data from Ort-Meyer to sell to the highest bidder. As the story progresses, it is implied that the Agency’s employees are being systematically eliminated by two albino clones, Mark Puriyah II and Mark Parchezzi III dispatched by a western counterpart to the Agency called “The Franchise”. The situation degrades to the point where 47’s handler Diana Burnwood informs him that they are the only ones left. An attempt is even made on 47’s life in Paris, almost killing him (prompting the events of Hitman: Contracts). In 2004, at Mardi Gras in New Orleans, Louisiana, 47 is able to kill Mark II and two other Franchise assassins.
Agent 47 disguised as a guard, sneaking up on the target, Don Fernando Delgado.
Diana closes down the Agency with a final contract to kill the assassins coming after them and splits the remaining funds between them. After the assignment, 47 is approached by an old acquaintance, a CIA agent named Smith, who 47 had rescued from a rehabilitation clinic earlier in the game via a serum that imitates the symptoms of death. He approaches 47 with a high-profile mission, paid for using several million dollars worth of diamonds, to prevent an assassination on the President of the United States, Tom Stewart. The assassins are “The Franchise’s” clone assassin, Mark Parchezzi III, and the Vice President, Daniel Morris, both working for Alpha Xerox, the shadowy political organization which owns The Franchise and is dedicated to monopolizing the cloning technology that spawned 47. They intend to assassinate the President before the elections so he may not be re-elected and forward his pro-cloning stance, thereby disabling their ability to monopolize it; “The Franchise” and its controlling parent stand to lose their military edge.
47 successfully eliminates Morris then Parchezzi in the White House. A newspaper article at the end of the level shows that Parchezzi is believed to be Morris’ assassin. Hunted by both enemy operatives and the police, 47 flees to his hideout. Without warning, he is visited by Diana, immediately arousing his suspicion. Diana proposes a plan to 47 to help them both escape danger from “The Franchise”. As 47 mulls over the briefing she hands him, expressing his misgivings as to the likelihood of its success, Diana injects him with what seems to be a poison syringe. 47’s body is surrounded by SWAT officers, and Diana, announcing that killing 47 was “surprisingly pleasant”, is formally inducted into “The Franchise” by Alexander Leland Cayne, its founder.
The story at this point shifts to the present day; 47 is scheduled for cremation so his bone marrow cannot be harnessed by cloning rivals, forever destroying anyone else’s chance of producing a non-defective clone. Diana places 47’s custom Silverballers over his chest during his hasty funeral and kisses him after applying lipstick. It becomes apparent that the “poison” Diana injected was actually the fake-death serum 47 had used in an earlier mission and her lipstick contains the antidote for it, implying she was actually ‘killing’ 47 for their survival. The funeral begins and the story then concludes in one of two different ways, depending on the player’s choice. The first occurs if the player does nothing during 47’s funeral, it is presumed the antidote fails to work, and 47 descends into the crematorium. The second ending occurs if the player constantly presses the “Up” button during the funeral, 47’s heart will begin beating meaning the antidote was successful and 47 awakens. 47 kills everyone, including the priest, Cayne’s personal guards, Rick Henderson and Cayne himself (Diana had already fled), leaving no witnesses and ultimately securing 47’s identity from the public.
Sometime after the funeral bloodbath, Diana uses The Franchise’s assets to reopen the International Contract Agency, which overlooks the Copenhagen harbor. She receives a call from a client referred to as “Your Majesty”. The voice cannot be heard, but Diana replies that the Agency has lost track of 47. Meanwhile, 47 is seen at a business engaging in conversation with a traditionally-dressed Chinese man. They discuss a service that can be found ‘in the back’. The story ends with a set of curtains closing on the two.