Why I Love The Hitman Franchise

I play a lot of games, if you hadn’t noticed. I’ve always been a fan of stealth games, since Metal Gear Solid, but one franchise has stuck with me more than any other – Hitman.

I played the original Hitman: Agent 47 on an old PC back in the day, but because it barely ran, I ducked out and then picked up Hitman 2 on the original Xbox. It wasn’t until Hitman: Blood Money on the Xbox 360 that it truly clicked with me.

If you’ve not played a Hitman game, consider them a reverse murder mystery of sorts. Players step into the shoes of Agent 47, and are set loose in sandbox-style environments with a specific target to eliminate.

The real joy, perhaps aptly, is in the execution. Players are graded more highly for arousing less suspicion, and making your kills look like accidents are key. Just in Blood Money alone, I made a chandelier fall on a target’s head, crushed someone under a bench press, and let someone else take the fall when an actor’s prop gun was replaced with the real thing. Players can sneak through each level, change disguises to blend in and access new areas, or just go shooting the place up (which isn’t advised).

It’s a puzzle that’s in constant motion, and while Hitman: Absolution added some more linear sections, the 2016 episodic reboot doubled down on what makes the franchise so addictive. Offering fewer locations, but each densely packed with more murderous opportunities than you can see in just one play through. That puts the onus on playing each location in multiple ways, earning currency and unlockables to attempt each in a different way.

Take the game’s first Paris mission, for example. On my first journey through, I poisoned one target to send them running to the bathroom before drowning them in the toilet, while another had a lighting rig drop onto his head. It’s dark, but Hitman always feels bizarrely slapstick, and earning the currency to pick up a sniper rifle or drop into a level at an alternate spot makes every level feel fresh whether it’s your first or fiftieth attempt. In fact, not long after, I was able to snipe one target from a balcony, their falling corpse eliminating the other. Like I said, slapstick.

It’s worth noting as well that IOI, the game’s developers, have spent years moulding the franchise into quite a technical showpiece. While Hitman: Blood Money hasn’t aged as gracefully visually as its core design philosophy, Absolution was a stunner on the PS3 and 360, while Hitman 2016 and its sequel offer exceptional detail in their sprawling environments.

With Hitman 3 launching on PS5 and Xbox Series X in January, I’m so glad the series will continue. There truly is absolutely nothing else like it, and just writing this short blog post has me preparing to start a new play through…

On that note, happy hunting!

L

Recommendations:

Apple’s iPad Pro Magic Keyboard: Remember when I said I couldn’t justify the iPad Pro’s Magic Keyboard? I’m currently typing this blog on one. I’ve been planning to write out my full thoughts in the coming days, so expect my thoughts soon. Apple really knocked it out of the park with the design, and while there are a couple of foibles functionality wise, I find myself reaching for it constantly.

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