Excellent take on the stealth genre.

User Rating: 9.3 | Hitman: Blood Money PS2
From day one, the Hitman series has been an acquired taste. Its tough enemy AI, constant threat of detection and hundreds of life threating situations were definitely not for action junkies and gun crazy lunatics.

However, even though I enjoy games such as Black and Star Wars: Battlefront this game series has always been one of my favourites. As a proud owner of both PS2 outings (Hitman 2 and Contracts) , I was unsure as to whether this game would live up to its predecessors. If so, it would have to feature plenty of new features without sacrificing the classic stealth gameplay. And it doesn't disappoint.

Well, I say stealth. But this is no Splinter Cell. Disguises, observation and careful planning and the only ways to survive. It is often only possible to progress if "The Professional" observes the target/bodyguard's movements and actions before making their move. Getting spotted can be the end immediately, and incorporating many different disguises will enable you to blend into your environment and gain access to restricted areas.

Then there is the new notoriety system, whereby if you let witnesses live, forget to remove CCTV tapes from the crime scene or leave empty clips, blood, bodies and used suits lying around, you increase your notoriety meaning that later in the game NPCs may recognise you, ramping up the difficulty severely. When you complete a level you are given a front page newspaper article reporting your actions. These are often very detailed and add more realism to the experience.

For the first time in the series you are actually paid for your kills, hence the subtitle. This money can be spent on bribes, information on the target and, most interestingly, weapon upgrades such as butt stocks, silencers and different ammunition types.

And who knew that killing people had so much variety! The introduction of environmen kills ie. falling chandliers and accidents (a slight nudge) add to the gameplay and give it lots of replay value. Your new found agility means you can headbutt people, climb drainpipes and jump across balconies, making escapes easier and efficient.

So can Blood Money win over the hearts of new comers, as well as keeping fans of the series entertained? Well, for the Johnny-Come-Latelies among you, there is no better place to start. The AI has been tweaked to make it slightly less punishing and much more sensible than in previous incarnations . Not to say that it's easy, because if you try running through the level mowing down everyone in sight with an MP5 you will die very quickly.

Therefore this is the best Hitman so far. If you hate the series with a passion this is not going to convert you, but if you are curious or are a fan of the series then you can't go wrong.