Writing on video games by Steve Hernandez

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Hitman 2: Clumsy Assassin

In Hitman 2: Silent Assassin, my Agent 47 is not a cunning professional who is able to eliminate his target without leaving a trace. He is not a “Silent Assassin” (the highest rating you can get in the game). On the contrary, my Agent 47 is actually pretty bad at his job. His first move often involves blowing his cover. As his body fidgets from the endless gunfire of the opposition, he pulls out his signature pistols and starts murdering everyone, until he dies, or is able to kill his target during the bloody spree. 
Then, a strange time warp occurs. After failing the mission, everything resets and Agent 47 finds himself back at the start of the mission, and given another chance to take out his target in a way that isn't utterly embarrassing for a clone, whose only purpose in life is to be the best Hitman in the world. He retains the information from his first attempt, and uses that knowledge to help him do a little bit better the next time. 
Hitman 2: Silent Assassin is part of a series of ‘third-person’ stealth games, in which the player controls Agent 47, an emotionless, bald-headed hitman, with a distinct barcode on the back of his head. Each mission contains at least one specific target that must be eliminated, with several other objectives that must be completed. Players can take a ‘stealthy’ approach, or, just constantly engage in gunfights. However, the game grades the player on stealth and aggression after they complete a mission. The stealthier you are, the better your grade will be. To get the Silent Assassin rating, you must:
  • Have no more than one alert.
  • Fire no more than one shot.
  • Kill no civilians.
  • Kill no more than one guard.

Anathema, the first mission, is a great example of something the series does very well; it puts you in an enclosed place and gives you the freedom to kill your target in a variety of ways. The mission begins with a scene in which Agent 47 uses a pair of binoculars to observe a villa owned by his target, Giuseppe Guillani, the man responsible for kidnapping his mentor, causing him to come out of retirement. 
Agent 47's mission is to eliminate Giuseppe and free Vittorio from the basement of the villa. From then on, you’re free to approach the mission in any way you want: you can murder your way into Giuseppe's office and gun him down, you can steal a sniper rifle from the garage and shoot him while he’s on the balcony, you can strangle him, or beat him to death with his own golf club. Lastly, you can either: escape on foot, or hijack a car from a garage and drive away. 
To do the mission stealthily, you must disguise yourself as: a postman, a delivery boy, or one of Giuseppe's guards. Each disguise is its own route into the villa. Attempting to enter the front gate disguised as the postman, results in a frisk-search by a guard. If you haven't dropped your weapons beforehand, the guards will see right through you. Posing as the deliveryman gives you access to the villa's kitchen. Lastly, disguising yourself as a guard seems to be the easiest way to get into the villa. However, disguises in the game can be risky. Running and going into places you're not supposed to be, will blow your cover immediately. This creates a strong feeling of tension, as you're forced to slowly walk around in the sight of armed opposition.
I played the PlayStation 2 version of Hitman 2 years ago, and can't remember if I ever completed it. I decided to revisit the game recently, and my first play through of Anathema was a perfect showcase for my Clumsy Assassin. I alerted the guards a few times and didn't hide any bodies. There were moments in which I was under fire, as I frantically tried to select a gun from my inventory. I managed to eliminate Giuseppe and escape, with little to no health left while being shot at. The cut-scene, ending the mission, depicts 47 carefully vaulting over a fence, as if he completed the hit with perfection. My performance spoke otherwise. My rating ended up being ‘Henchman’, the second-to-last rating out of the game's 23. 
However, I managed to do a bit better on my next attempt, but not enough to get the ‘Silent Assassin’ rating. Posing as a guard, I went into the villa and used my binoculars to look into the garage to see if a sniper rifle was there. I heard some unusual noises and realized that Giuseppe was hitting golf balls on the balcony right above me. I seized this opportunity by taking him out with a silencer pistol, but now, had to retrieve the basement key from his body. I killed two more guards, retrieved the key on the balcony, unlocked the basement door, and then, snuck out of the villa. This time my rating was ‘Iceman’
My last attempt at Anathema ended up being my best performance yet. I immediately dashed to the wall and waited for a guard to leave his post and come to the door. He began urinating on a bush, so I quickly subdued him and stole his clothes. Disguised, I went into the back entrance of the garage and nabbed the sniper rifle. I quickly ran back to the rocky hillside and executed Giuseppe while he was on the balcony. I dropped the sniper rifle and entered the back entrance of the mansion. Luckily, I was able to enter Giuseppe's bedroom on the second floor, as the guard in front of it left his post. I went onto the balcony through the bedroom and retrieved the key from Giuseppe. I snuck into the basement and unlocked the door. Vittrio wasn't here. Diana, Agent 47's correspondent, informs me that he must've been moved. My objective now, was to leave the area. For whatever reason, the postman that was on his way to deliver the flowers, was now running around in a panic as he repeatedly yelled the same words in Italian. Fortunately for me, none of the guards seemed bothered by it at all. As I back-tracked my way outside of the villa, I noticed that the guard I had incapacitated earlier, was now wide awake, wearing only boxer shorts. He just stood there, facing the door I needed to get through. I pulled out my bottle of anesthesia, and once again, put him to sleep. A nearly naked man, and a panicky postman, shows the Hitman series is capable of many funny situations. 
Once outside the walls surrounding the villa, I sprinted to the exit. Building upon failure and repetition, my Agent 47 finally went from Clumsy Assassin, to Silent Assassin.


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