Although it doesn't offer anything new, it doesn't have any games / substitutes to take its place.
What makes it so frustrating ??? Consider for example, a level in which I'm required to rescue a girl from a brothel to get a certain safe combination. Except, there seems to be no way to rescue the girl without blowing my cover for even though I sneak and walk silently around guards, the girl can't "sneak" if you know what I mean. So, rescuing her is certain to blow up my chances of completing the mission with maximum stealth. Somehow, I still manage to rescue the girl blowing my cover twice in the process. And then, the girl simply lands me (i.e. Agent 47), a kiss. All that trouble for a kiss and I'm not even sure if I got the combination or not. Of course, to find that out I have to open the safe. If I've got the combination, the safe will open. If not, it will set off an alarm which requires me to either play with my blown cover or start afresh. I can only imagine with so many permutations, how frustrating this would be if I would have been playing on the highest difficulty level (I currently played this on the Expert difficulty which gave me three saves per mission).
In that same level, one of the ways to kill a target is getting into a chef's costume and going to the kitchen to receive some "soup" from the chef there which can then be poisoned and taken to the target. The difficulty here was that despite me getting in the right attire and walking to the chef, the chef murmurs something like "Take this soup to the boss". I realize that no cut-scene has been triggered and even though there's a bowl of soup placed on the kitchen, I can't pick it or any other item up to take it to the boss. Assuming that I must have received the soup somehow, I walk to the boss's mansion only to have all guards firing at me as if I'm a trespasser.
These are just two of the many frustrating scenarios you'll encounter in the game. There are lots of other ones from the earlier missions which I can't recollect because the amount of times I've had to replay the final missions has ensured that those are the only ones that have stuck in my memory. Even the final mission where you're pitted against a whole SWAT team of 8 - 12 members outside your doorstep with only a useless sniper and two guns at your disposal ensures that stealth is out of the question and aggression will eventually turn to frustration. Bugs abound in the game, at times, the enemy A.I. will spot you even if you're behaving perfectly like one of them; at other times, no matter what you do, you won't raise any alerts.
The look and graphics of the game feel simply recycled from the old game. It looks as though Eidos took the old game's engine, textures and all relevant files and simply added new missions. This is a game that would have served well as a DLC instead of a standalone game. Being a rehash at least ensures that it runs well though (although there was significant lag towards the end due to plentiful of smoke on the screen; then again, I was running it on a laptop so I guess this comment ain't justified).
The game's plot is well, I'm not sure if there's any coherent story there. Agent 47 is injured in the first mission and as he recovers, we see how he got to that point and the targets he assassinated. Except the targets themselves are in no way linked to any central plot in the game, they're just standalone missions where names could very well have been replaced by alphabets like X and Y.
Despite my endless bashing of the game, there are a few positives too. For one, the kind of stealth gameplay that Contracts embodies is seldom found in other games (a rival I can think of is the Splinter Cell series but again, the only thing common there is stealth). Changing into disguises, entering areas, taking out targets without anyone knowing, and walking out - if done perfectly, stills gives that exhilarating feel. Music is decent but strictly decent. The game's dark decaying atmosphere where it almost constantly rains is also great. And of course, you have the voices of 47 and Diana who add some pleasing and welcome familiarity and play their parts well in the game's otherwise pathetic cut-scenes.
What I've said above is simply, my review and my opinion of the game. Many may not agree and some even claim to find this game better than its successor. I have nothing against them or anybody. I do not detest the Hitman franchise in any way; I've played Silent Assassin and still love it despite its similarly frustrating difficulty (since it felt genuinely difficulty instead of feeling difficult due to bad A.I. and other such buggy scenarios) and I still plan on checking out the successor Blood Money which I've already purchased. But still, no amount of love I have for this franchise can make me love this DLC-like installment which claims to be the successor to one of the best stealth games ever conceived. The only reason this might be worth a try is because there simply aren't alternatives that offer stealth at this level.