Hitman: Blood Money is a stealth game developed by IO Interactive, published by Eidos Interactive and directed by Rasmus Højengaard. It is the fourth entry in the Hitman game series and was released on May 26, 2006 in Europe and on May 30, 2006 in the United States for the PlayStation 2, Xbox and Xbox 360 video game consoles and the Microsoft Windows operating system. The game is also available through OnLive. A Mobile Phone version under the same name was also released but with drastically different gameplay, graphics and overall style.
The story follows the life of professional hitman, Agent 47, as narrated in cutscenes 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, and differs from the original three in that several contracts are carried out in civilian areas, as opposed to the "covert ops" settings of Codename 47, Silent Assassin, and Contracts. The game was a commercial success, selling more than 2.1 million units, and a sequel has been confirmed to be in the works by IO Interactive.
The basics of Blood Money are similar to past entries in the series; each mission is framed around the killings 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 excessive 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'.
Many new features were introduced to Hitman: Blood Money. These include the capability to climb through more obstacles, improved unarmed combat, the ability to use an NPC as a human shield, improved character animations (face, eyes, etc.), a new game engine and the ability to upgrade weapons and equipment. However, only 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 sort of 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 ledge. There are also improvised weapons, such as nail-guns, a child's air rifle, kitchen knives, screwdrivers, stilettos, cane swords, fire extinguishers, and a pair of hedge clippers.
A gameplay feature new to the Hitman series was also added, 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. 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 regarding 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 itself rebukes the player for making too much noise by announcing on the headline how many people were killed in total, whereas executing your target without any problems will simply have you as 'wanted by police'. The article's title relates to the player's mission rating. "Silent Assassin", in which you assassinate the targets as cleanly and quietly as possible, and draw no unnecessary attention to yourself (blow your cover, leave no extra bodies, etc.), is the best rating possible on all missions. As you advance further into the game more and more newspapers containing the headline from your 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 (i.e. kitchen knives, stilettos, etc.) Once thrown into anybody, 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 armoury.
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.
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. 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 two 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 controller 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.
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 drapes 47's custom Silverballers over his chest during his hasty funeral and kisses him after applying lipstick. It becomes apparent that the "poison" she injected was actually the fake-death serum 47 had used in an earlier mission. Diana's lipstick contains the antidote in it, implying she was actually 'killing' 47 for their survival. The funeral begins and the story then concludes in one of two different ways. In the first, it is presumed the antidote fails to work, and 47 descends into the crematorium. In the second, canonical ending the antidote is successful and 47 awakens. 47 kills everyone, including Cayne's personal guards, the priest, 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 on the curtain literally closing on the two.
The Hitman: Blood Money Original Soundtrack, composed by Jesper Kyd, was released on May 20, 2006 by Sumthing Else and Eidos. The score was performed jointly with the Budapest Symphony Orchestra and the Hungarian Radio Choir. It features Kyd's trademark ambience and dark, foreboding arrangements with the choral parts in deep brooding Latin.
In the composer's own words:
“ "It seemed like a natural choice to mix things up for the Blood Money score. After the electronic-driven score for Hitman: Codename 47, the orchestral Hitman 2: Silent Assassin score was a new direction for the sound of Hitman, although there are still a few purely electronic tracks in Hitman 2: Silent Assassin. For the third title, Hitman: Contracts, we wanted to go back to the games's roots and create an updated and more modern electronic score. So the Hitman series has a strong background in electronic music.
The score was nominated for the "Best Video Game Score" award in the 2006 MTV Video Music Awards ceremony, but lost out to Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. However, it did receive the "Xbox Game of the Year - Best Original Score" award from IGN.
Despite the fact Blood Money has been said to be the most violent game of the series yet, the magazine ads for the game generated more controversy than the title which spawned them. The ad that drew the most attention and protest depicted a woman lying on a bed in lingerie, seemingly asleep but with a bullet hole in her forehead. The caption above the picture read: "Beautifully Executed", a pun regarding the woman's appearance and her fate. Other ads were "Classically Executed", featuring a cellist with a slit throat, "Coldly Executed", showing a man in a freezer, and "Shockingly Executed", depicting a woman in a bath who has been electrocuted by a toaster.