Is Contracts the best Hitman game?

In this long, ranting essay I’ll review Contracts and explain the reasons why I believe it’s the best Hitman game.

Atmosphere
Contracts is the darkest game in the series, and that’s where much of its appeal comes from. Each Hitman has a different tone (H1- Action film. H2- International assassin. H3- Dark. H4- Over-the-top. H5- Grindhouse. H6- Spy thriller), and Contracts is probably the most ‘realistic’ in portraying the life of a nitty-gritty contract killer. The game’s rushed development to meet a strict deadline moulded a darker tone (the same thing happened with Majora’s Mask, the darkest Zelda)

Although 90% of the game’s levels are rainy/snowy, I feel that they mostly carry their own distinctive look and atmosphere- The Meat King’s Party is oppressively grey and stormy, the Bjharkov Bomb is oppressively blue and snowy, the Wang Four Incident is oppressively black and stormy and The Seafood Massacre is oppressively orange and stormy. They do, however, all share the same theme: Bleakness. Contracts really does feel nightmarish at times.

Presentation
The game’s presentation adds greatly to its atmosphere- the menu screens are minimalist, black and grey. The target’s photos are white and washed-out, which aptly makes them look like ghosts. And Diana’s briefings seem more detached and curt…There are no pleasantries, it’s just business.

Locations
There’s a good mix and variety of locations, and in contrast to Hitman 2’s focus on the exotic and grandiose, Contracts focuses on the seedy and gloomy. There’s still a lot of globetrotting, but as each country’s grittiest parts are shown, they’re not exactly a flattering portrayal- a frozen military base, run-down biker club, slaughterhouse, insane asylum, claustrophobic Hong Kong streets to name a few.

Story
Contracts’ story can basically be summed up in one sentence- 47 gets shot and recalls past assignments. I think all Hitman games should have stories like Contracts and Blood Money- flashbacks on 47’s various missions with no connections to each other which make up a loose story.

Characters
Just about every target in this game is a bastard: Crooked coppers, obese slaughterhouse owners, crime lords, terrorists. And it’s not just the targets- all the NPCs seem rude and Diana and 47 are at their most callous.

Music
Jesper Kyd’s soundtrack has been endlessly praised over the years, and for good reason. Contracts’ dark visual presentation is beautifully complimented by its menacing, brooding electronic music. It’s tense and unsettling, and a world away from Hitman 2’s heroic orchestral score. Hong Kong Underground is the best song, although it’s used too often.

Gameplay
Disguises are a little bit more forgiving than Silent Assassin and there’s more scope for different kills- poisoning tattoo ink, dressing up as a SWAT member and assaulting your target’s boat, hiding a knife in a fat man’s chicken, etc, are just a few examples. There’s also a tremendous variety of weaponry on offer, plus the fiber wire is visible (woo!) and the sniper rifle has a briefcase (woo!)

Beldingford Manor
The series’ best level gets its own section (that’s how good it is!). Beldingford Manor’s setting- in an English aristocrat’s creaky old estate, with a mansion, stables and grounds- is dripping with atmosphere. Sneaking in on a stormy night and offing bad guys when they’re in their pyjamas and at their most vulnerable is a great feeling.
There’s so much to explore and discover- dropping gasoline down into the fireplace, feeding weedkiller to horses, sneaking past guards in undergrowth, navigating a hedge maze, discovering secret passages, poisoning Beldingford’s milk/suffocating him with a pillow/sniping him from the stables. All of these aspects are quintessentially Hitman.
Once again, the atmosphere is superb. Although the two targets aren’t fleshed out much, the premise of humans hunting humans is a unique one (to Hitman). The endless rainfall and thunderstorm really sells the level. If you imagine Beldingford Manor in a sunny daytime setting like A New Life it simply wouldn’t work. The music as you enter the mansion gives a nice over-the-top haunted feeling as a woman laughs creepily and weird sound effects occur. There’s also an out-of-place coffin in the basement and a painting that bleeds when you shoot it. And who doesn’t love the accents? “Don’t believe you’re on the guest list, mate!”
So, yeah. A good level!

Negatives
-Half of the levels are rehashed from Codename 47. Some are better than the originals- Deadly Cargo, with its SWAT element, and the Seafood Massacre, with its Blade Runner-esque atmosphere, are much better, but others are worse. Traditions of the Trade is still brilliant, but feels a lot less lively than the original with its closed pool, shops and restaurant, and its lack of guests. The Lee Hong Assassination, too, is drearier and seems smaller and less involved than the original.

  • There aren’t that many levels. The level select screen looks like it should be much bigger, and being spoilt by Hitman 2, I expected there to be twenty levels. Ah, well.
  • Guard AI is still paranoid as hell.

Summary
Contracts is my favourite Hitman game, and it’s unlikely we’ll ever have anything else quite like it. Although I do love Hitman 6, I hope Season 2 can embrace a little of the darkness of Contracts. Thanks for reading! Fellow Contracts fans, please share your thoughts on this wonderful game and why you think it’s the best!

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I disagree personally.

The fact that it has only 12 missions and that half of them are lesser remakes (aside from Roterdam) really hurts its chance. With a full length of development we would have a completely different discussion.

I also dislike the gameplay and prefer the way it was in H2 but I might be in the minority here. Aaaand Beldingford manor isn’t the best level in Hitman although it’s certainly close :stuck_out_tongue:.

Otherwise I’m with you, but that’s enough criticism to knock it off my top 3, let alone pretend to be the best Hitman game.

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You should name this thread: ‘Hitman: Contracts appreciation thread’. :wink:

What @Gundamn said. tbh, I didn’t even enjoy the game that much. H2, BM and HITMAN are all better imo.

Although the main menu theme is superb.

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I agree. This game has my top 2 levels in whole series: Beldingford manor and Traditions of the Trade. Soundtrack is really awesome. Voice acting is also pretty cool. Story is pretty interesting. Atmosphare is good. Also i like how this game is only about “business”.

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Looking good, spodey. Love the new avatar :grinning:

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Probably the most balanced of them all, but still not my favorite

Although this is my favorite and i may agree with the title of the topic.
However i have realized, separating the first 3 games makes a mess, its when they are combined as a trilogy only then each of the 3 games makes sense. Each of them are somewhat flawed without the other.
Its their combination that defines Hitman and 47 as a character. Not as stand alone games.

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I do really like Contracts, but I didn’t really like how half the levels are remakes. IMO, I don’t really like the Chinese gang levels, but the newer levels are really good. I would say I like H2 or BM better.

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Could you explain what you mean by BM is over the top?

Half of this essay is you stating facts and describing things, not even explaining why something is so good. Like in the Story paragraph.

The mood of Blood Money seems like an over-the-top caricature of American culture: The suburbia with cheating wives, FBI agents and clowns, the New Orleans parade with the floats and bird costumes, the hillbilly stereotype levels, the Vegas Heaven & Hell party…the mood seems a lot less subtle and a bit more ‘in-your-face’ compared to Contracts. There are also silly kills like dropping a piano on a target, setting someone on fire with a BBQ and shooting a hot tub.

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I’m no essayist, I’m afraid, I was just trying to give an overview of the game’s good aspects with a bit of opinion thrown in. I could probably write a lot more on Contracts, but wouldn’t want the post to be too long. I mean, I can understand that Contracts is probably not the best Hitman game, but It’s my best Hitman game. It improved on Codename 47 and Hitman 2 in just about every aspect, and was top of its tree until Blood Money arrived. This topic is basically about preaching to the choir as the game’s positives need no explanation to those who enjoy it the most.

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Yes. Contracts is one of the best Hitman games, if not THE best one. Of course, this is an opinion. But it always had a special place in me.

I consider Contratcs my favourite. I wanted to see a better approach for the missions at Honk Kong (still, I loved Slaying a Dragon and The Wang Fou Incident). The mechanics are cool (my favourite rifle assembling animation, by the way :bear::wink:) and the difficulty is pretty challenging without being too frustrating. It also covers the head-turning aspect pretty well with it’s predictable but still fluid pattern. The soundtrack is amazing and the atmosphere is great and obscure. The guns are beary varied and the shooting is really satisfactory. The amount of approaches are also wide and allow for great strategies.

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I really love Contracts.I love the atmosphere, and the remakes, and the story. But I admit that Contracts is simply a part of Blood Money. Like- this entire game literally takes place between Curtains Down and You Better Watch Out. xD

It’s still among my top two, with only Hitman 2016 topping it. But I will always love Contracts- just like I will always love Silent Assassin.

I never got to play Contracts. I will probably pick it up on the steam sale for super cheap and pray that it will run for me.

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I agree. To this day I still think it is the best Hitman game.

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Since when has a pity remake of hc47 copycating gameplay of h2sa become the best?

Since you refused to post your pic wearing leggins and doing an split up.

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