It makes me very sad that I haven't yet sniped anyone from this church tower.
Okay, so I am now three levels into Hitman: No Subtitle, and it's going
pretty well. There are bits of it that are tougher than others, but it's never
yet frustrating and insoluble. The nearest I got was trying to sneak into the
Swedish embassy in Marakesh. It took me three tries to get an unconscious guard
into a box unnoticed, and even then apparently Swedish diplomatic protection is
unusually hot on its security guards knowing each other's names and faces. Less
so on local masseurs, as they all took me for the man with the golden touch despite
the eight inch height disparity, lack of hair and bar code. So it goes; in
Paris I successfully masqueraded as the world's most famous male model.
For a game that is basically about killing
people in inventive ways (on one notable occasion in Sapienza I just left an
exploding golf ball in a box and walked away. Ten minutes later I got the kill
confirmed(1)) Hitman: No Subtitle
really appeals to the explorer type. The levels are huge and open, and full of
people discussing things directly or tangentially related to the main plot of
the game. There's this whole counter-blackmail thing going on in the Paris
mission with a magazine editor trying to get dirt on the IAGO blackmail ring to
keep from going under in the face of the advancing world of fashion blogging,
which frankly seems reckless, but you can also stumble on her agents and
overhear them bricking it, and on IAGO's models/spies discussing their
assignments, some of which involve people we'll meet later in the plot and a
so-far mysterious cult that seems to tie things together. None of this is
essential, but it's also never discussed in the cut scenes or main briefings;
it's purely there as background information that you can pick up if you want.
Well, I know what I'm doing this evening...
The other thing I've really noticed is that,
for a game about an assassin, it really never wants you to feel good about
killing people. Sure, most of your targets are bad people on one level or
another, but even the nasty ones are pretty nuanced. The least diabolical of
the six targets I've gone after so far, the least offensive are the scientists
devising a genetically targeted virus designed to infect and move from person
to person until it hits the one person it will kill, and one of them hired the
ICA to off a local right-wing politician in one of the seasonal special
missions. I guess the Wet Bandits from Home
Alone maybe didn't deserve to be killed in the Christmas special(2), but
you know how it is; play the gig, stay away from politics. Actually, the 'just
play the gig' attitude is challenged by this game as the arc plot shows that
the ICA is being manipulated into a series of seemingly unconnected hits aimed
at bringing down a group called Providence. Maybe it would pay to look at the politics
a little closer.
None of the targets are diabolically evil;
that's the point. The serial blackmailers are on some level trying to go straight, the
scientists are mostly in it for the science (evil science, admittedly.) The general angling for a coup de
tat and the banker who ruined thousands of people and destabilised the Moroccan
government I am less concerned about, if I'm honest. There's also just enough
detail to the supporting NPCs(3) that murder seldom seems an easy option. Despite
their apparent policy of sheltering wanted financial fraudsters who happen to
be Swedish, there's a definite lack of relish on those occasions when I screw
the pooch and just start capping off at consulate guards before reloading
(although I confess, when I finally got fed up of the one guard who flatly refused
to move, just stood there playing with his phone and waiting to witness you if
you attacked the masseur, and just beaned him in the bread basket with a thrown
hammer(4), that was satisfying.
Traversal in Hitman is definitely less satisfying than Assassin's Creed's signature free running, but the complete focus
on the business of patient, meticulous assassination more than makes up for it.
Played wrong it would feel like a particularly unsatisfying version of
Ubisoft's occult murder simulator, but if you embrace the nature of the game it
comes out more like a particularly strangley and non-judgemental game of Portal.
(1) I got two non-target kills for the
level, but I don't know if that was that the golf ball got the golf coach and
one of the guards, or because the box I later hid two unconscious scientists in
was – as I only realised as the second one vanished in a flurry of bubbles –
full of evil, biohazardous goop well above the tolerance levels of their hazmat
(2) Quite by chance I ended up putting them
in the same cupboard, which was satisfying.
(3) They really only ring false when they
react to seven foot of cueball muscle putting someone in a mistimed chokehold
by pointing and saying sternly 'you let him go now' rather than screaming for
the police or even throwing things at you.
(4) Throwable blunt objects are a godsend in
this game and I routinely load my pockets with hammers, wrenches, bricks and coconuts far more than guns or knives.