(Eidos; Xbox, PS2) Games do their part in teaching the ABCs of life: driving, solving puzzles, and so forth. This game, on the other hand, demonstrates how to strangle someone with a piano wire without leaving a shred of evidence. Your dad's pre-plasma Pong!, it is not. Contracts isthe third riff in the Hitman series, giving players a bountiful amount of freedom to kill any which way they can. You're Agent 47 - a suit-wearing, irony-spewing death dealer - and missions are what you make of them. From meat hooks to mini guns, no weapon is spared in the hunt for pricetag-pegged civilians. The Dolby Digital 5.1 mix for Xbox (Dolby Pro Logic II for PS2) makes the stealthy proceedings much more nerve-racking than average actioners in the same genre. Here, your prey's every step, giggle, and breath must be monitored to ensure maximum, deadly impact. Just call it assassin boot camp.
-Jon M. Gibson
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