Underrated assassin game where user has freedom to complete level however they want.

User Rating: 9 | Hitman: Blood Money X360
I decided to write this review because I feel like this game is one of the most underrated Xbox 360 games out there.
In Hitman: Blood Money you take up the role as Agent 47, a genetically-enhanced cloned assassin hired to take out targets with money on their heads. Although, there is a story included in the game that is presented with cut scenes in between missions, it almost feels like it was added for the sake of having a story and the game would have survived just fine without it.
Missions begin with a briefing about your targets and where you are going. No two environments, or levels, are the same, you go from a Chilean vineyard to a French opera house and even to the White House, among many others. You also have the option of choosing a weapons load-out before you start, but depending how you want to complete the level determines which weapons you want to bring.

Your goal is to assassinate the target(s) however you like and that there is the beauty of the game. As an assassin, you generally want to go unnoticed, sneaking in and quietly killing your targets. That is certainly an option, but its by no means necessary to complete your mission. As mentioned before, you also have the option of choosing a weapon load-out that consists of every weapon available and you can go in guns blazing not leaving any witnesses. You can choose these game play styles and anything in between to complete your missions. Another important option is making a kill look like an accident. This can help with stealth missions, but also is necessary if killing a civilian is required for your play through and you want to minimize your violence. This can include pushing somebody over a ledge, rigging a chandelier to fall on somebody or poisoning somebodies food, but there are plenty more available in each level. There are even multiple accidental ways to kill a target in a single level, giving each level re playability.

Your are given a limited inventory to begin with (a remote mine/detonator, poison/sedative syringe, fiber wire, etc). Many areas of levels are "off-limits" to you, which allows you the ability to disguise yourself as somebody else. Lets say only police officers are allowed in certain areas, you go find an officer isolated from everyone, knock him out (or kill him, if you please) and steal his clothes, all of a sudden you are no longer restricted from entering the area. Of course, you also have the option of shooting the guard right in the face and walking in.

There is also a feature called "Notoriety", which is the NPC's suspicion of you as you progress through the level. It is represented by a meter right next to your health meter. Leaving dead bodies around or brandishing a gun in public will arouse peoples suspicions and all of a sudden they are less trusting towards you, when your notoriety meter reaches red, guards begin shooting on sight. Notoriety is pretty fair, but occasionally will raise for seemingly no reason and causes you to fail the mission.

The AI in the game is almost comically bad. Surprisingly enough, it takes very little away from the game, that is at least if you are trying for the stealth approach. Hordes of guards will run up in front of you and start spraying their guns without thinking of going to cover. They are also on a fixed path and don't add any variety or changes to their along their paths.

Each level ends with a rating depending on how you went about the level. Complete stealth with no witnesses and no gratuitous killing, awards you the "Silent Assassin" rating, while going in, killing civilians, leaving witnesses and being seen on camera will give you something along the lines of "Psychopath". Less stealthy approaches will raise your notoriety and allow NPC's from other levels to immediately become more suspicious regardless of whether you did anything to warrant it or not, but the ability to pay people off or change your identity can lower your notoriety in between levels, assuming you have the money to do so. Another cool feature, at first, is the newspaper article detailing the events of what happened in the previous level. After a while, you realize its basically just a template that fills in the blanks and it loses its appeal.

Considering this game came out in 2006, the graphics are very good and are still bearable to this day. The animations aren't great and often times will lead to rag doll physics and awkward positioning.
As mentioned before, the story is forgettable and not necessary to follow in order to get a good experience out of the game. There is very little dialogue throughout the game and is usually only used in minor cut scenes throughout the levels.

This game features an array of amazingly unique and creative levels. The ability to choose how you want to complete levels is really what makes this game different and allows for immense re playability. With 4 difficulty levels, each one including increased AI awareness and less save opportunities, it allows the player more chances to replay the levels, especially if they are going for complete silent assassin and especially if they want to try out a different approach to completing the mission. The AI, lack of voice acting, minor bugs and forgettable story are all that prevent Hitman: Blood Money from gaining a perfect score, regardless I still highly recommend this game.