Hitman : Impressions from a terrible stealth player

I'm pretty bad at stealth-based games. They normally end up with a pile of bodies, and mine on top, while various enemies reload their guns in a circle around me. I almost lost patience with Hitman...I was really struggling to get to grips with the mentality behind it, and whenever I looked for help I would come across videos of people doing perfect runs, elegantly slipping through lines of sight, and getting massive scores. I was clearly useless...

...and then I saw a video from Eurogamer, showing their first play of the new Marrakech level. They were awful...they were making all the same mistakes as me, and generally ended up leaving a trail of poorly concealed corpses in their wake. With this new appreciation, I've been able to head back, and actually get a good feeling for it. I did a video of a run-through tonight, showing the different ways you can go through missions. I did a very simple process in the video, but the go before I had probably spent a couple of hours exploring, finding various things, and piecing together a way I could kill 2 men, and then escape.

In the 3 episodes to date, the game has tasked you with killing 2 people in a location, and then escaping. The levels are pretty big...the Marrakech level has 4 large areas (a market, a main square, an old school and an embassy), and there are various items/people/routes through each one. As you wander round you find "Opportunities", which are quasi-set piece events that can help you progress towards one of your kills. These are incredibly useful if you're not a natural stealth player, and also quite often there is a level of comedy to them (such as pretending to be a corpse in a morgue, or taking the place of a male model in a catwalk show). I used one of these in the video, to pose as a cameraman for a news reporter to gain access to the embassy. I had previously attempted (unsuccessfully) in get inside by jumping over a wall, into the basement and through a car-park full of soldiers. Needless to say, I didn't progress beyond the soldiers!

For the other kill, I had been doing some parkour exploring, and found myself on a rooftop with a view of the school where I could see (via Instinct Mode, which gives you a sort of X-Ray vision of key items and people) one of the targets wandering around...I saw him stop briefly at a window, and thought "do you know what...f I had a sniper rifle I could totally pop him from here". I then started working backwards...I could stow a rifle at the agency drop-off, but that was across town, and a tourist wandering round with a gun is going to draw attention, however a soldiers out fit may alleviate that.

I think it's a game where the episodic nature actually helps it. As I've been wandering around the map, I've thought "I wonder if I can get a shot at the other guy from the roof-tops. Could I snipe both? Then you look at the challenges, and they hint at ways of killing that you haven't even seen (for example, one challenge is arranging for the 2 targets to meet in a secret underground tunnel, and then blowing them up with an oil tank). In the previous level (Sapienza, in Italy, which is a beautiful level), I got the chance to kill a mad doctor, dressed as a Plague Doctor. It really encourages you to re-visit the levels, and try new things....the levels help out by being immense, and very rich in detail. It can also be quite funny, when things start to go wrong. On more than one occasion I've found myself in a room, with all the cupboards full of dead bodies, with a small army trying to find me. There is an immense satisfaction from "subduing" someone from distance with a thrown wrench (I do it a couple of times in the video).

I'm starting to really enjoy it, great combination of exploration, action and puzzle solving.


Yes I can't say I was the silent assassin of the gameplay videos more the bumbling hitman who gets spotted drugging the wine and then had to hide in a toilet and knock out anyone that came in and stack them in a cupboard. Or I press the wrong button and rather than silently taking out the guard I smash the glass display case full of weapons next to him and then have to run away.

I did love the almost puzzle game nature of it the multiple solutions and things like on the paris level there is an option to kill one target with the other by pushing one off a balcony to land on the one standing bellow. Or how on the Sapienza level you can kill the guy with an exploding golf ball.

The little details you overhear some mission possibilities others just colour and the scale of the levels is great.

Some of the stealth action genre have gone overtly into the action path like the assassins creed games where you can just blast your way through killing everyone in sight. Here you can't get away with that sort of thing you'll get mowed down and the stealth is much more of a factor.

Evilmatt's picture

Some of it has a feel of Monkey Island but with many multiple paths. I laughed when I saw you dump a woman in a bin while dressed as a handy man and then again with the cameraman. Those bins are everywhere! I very much liked your To Do list too, that helped a lot with me understanding what went on.

Is the grey "intuition mode"?

brainwipe's picture

Yep, when the screen washes out that's Intuition Mode. It highlights any possibly useful objects in view, and the location of people (the people in red are targets). There is an option to turn it off, but it's far too handy to do that!

I actually think you need a do-do list of sorts, it's a game that rewards planning. I've also worked out that if you whip out the silenced pistol and start shooting people, you've probably gone wrong!

babychaos's picture

When you know you've failed early on, it must be tempting to go all RAMBO and start gunning people down.

Is there much opportunity for taking initiative or do you need to follow your plan?

brainwipe's picture

You can wing it if stuff goes wrong, and recovery is possible, especially if you bork it up early on in a run. I tend to find that once you've run out of corpse-storage in the immediate locale, you're normally in trouble.

I've had a couple of sketchy moments...one springs to mind where I took down a soldier, and his partner down the road saw me decking him. I quickly swapped costume, and stuffed the body into a nearby bin. His partner came round the corner just as the legs vanished, and was immediately happy I was indeed his colleague, and got on the radio reporting a large, bald gentleman was going round punching people, while I picked up the rifle on the floor (how did that get there?), and wandered into the army base.

babychaos's picture

LOL! That kind of AI logic makes the game cool in my eyes. Although it is a bit daft, it allows wallpapering over the cockups.

brainwipe's picture

Quite happy that I just managed to achieve the new Elusive Target (a timed content feature...you only get one shot, are not allowed to Save, and the target does not appear during Intuition Mode). This one was "The Prince", a priest who wanders around the grounds of the church in Sapienza, which is in turn locked down by security guards.

I spent ages exploring, checking out the sewers/catacombs etc, but they were all well guarded. I got into the morgue, fucked up killing a guard, but hid as a corpse while the fuss blew over, before stealing the dead guys suit...this got me into the grounds, where I could observe the priests movements (he had loads of bodyguards round him, including some who would spot I wasn't a real bodyguard, so I had to keep my distance), but I was able to work out some lines of sight. Finally, I went and picked up my sniper rifle, went to a balcony that should get a decent view of parts of the church gardens, and at the opportune moment...

...and then it was a matter of dropping the gun, walking out as the security detail stormed the building, and exiting the map before all hell broke loose. I almost felt professional...

babychaos's picture