Tag Archives: Agent 47

2017 Game Review Haiku, #62 – Hitman (2016): Prologue

Assassinations
Are easy, just follow prompts
47 knows

I can’t believe I’m still doing this. I can’t believe I’ll ever stop. These game summaries in chunks of five, seven, and five syllable lines paint pictures in the mind better than any half a dozen descriptive paragraphs I could ever write. Trust me, I’ve tried. Brevity is the place to be. At this point, I’ve done over 200 of these things and have no plans of slowing down. So get ready for another year of haikus. Doumo arigatou gozaimasu.

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2016 Game Review Haiku, #44 – Hitman: Absolution

2016 gd games completed Hitman Absolution

Hide Victoria
Hide Agent 47
Until plans go wrong

Here we go again. Another year of me attempting to produce quality Japanese poetry about the videogames I complete in three syllable-based phases of 5, 7, and 5. I hope you never tire of this because, as far as I can see into the murky darkness–and leap year–that is 2016, I’ll never tire of it either. Perhaps this’ll be the year I finally cross the one hundred mark. Buckle up–it’s sure to be a bumpy ride. Yoi ryokō o.

Turn-based trial and error assassinating with Hitman GO

gd early impressions hitman go

The Hitman series and I have not exactly clicked over the years, which is strange, seeing as these are stealth-based games with multiple paths and ways to succeed, with one often using the environment or disguises to get jobs done than simply firing a bullet from a sniper rifle miles away. It’s that whole “this sounds better on paper” thing, seeing as I could barely get through the opening parts of Hitman: Blood Money and walked away from Hitman: Absolution fairly early on, though I’d still like to return to the latter eventually and give it a second shake.

Good news, everyone–Hitman GO rocks! In fact, it’s my favorite Hitman game so far. Yup, this turn-based, puzzle board game version of Agent 47’s stealth assassination missions is basically everything I do like about these games, but with a super strong aesthetic and enough challenge to get me scratching my head, but returning for more after every level. I bought it the other night for $0.10–that’s ten cents for those with eyesight problems–through Microsoft’s online store as part of their weekly sales for Black Friday, though I’m playing it on my laptop and not a tablet/phone as it is probably intended to be experienced. Too bad, so sad.

There’s no story in Hitman GO, and there doesn’t need to be. Instead, each world, represented by a vintage-looking board game box, collects a handful of themed levels together, with the main goal either being to reach the exit unnoticed and alive or kill a specific target, often draped in red attire. There are side objectives as well, such as collecting a briefcase or completing the level in a set number of turns, and those go towards acquiring stars, which will help you unlock future sets of levels. Every character is represented as a tiny figurine, even mimicking the “toppled over” effect of taken chess pieces when knocked down. I liked this in Crimson Shroud, and I like it once again here.

Truly, it’s the board game aesthetic that has me transfixed. Here’s a true fact about me: if you are ever looking for me in a bookstore, you can generally find me at the board games shelf, ogling just about everything, fascinated with all the games and possibilities, saddened over the fact that I don’t have anyone to play these things with. Recently, I gave Machi Koro a good hard look, amazed at the colorful, friendly artwork. If a real, tangible version of Hitman GO existed, I most assuredly would be staring at it for a while, as i do when I play. You can rotate the board around for a better view or to simply admire the small, off-to-the-side details.

I’m currently in the middle of the second world’s levels, which have introduced new, tricky mechanics like hiding in potted plants or using trapdoors to teleport around the screen at the cost of a turn. My biggest struggle right now is with the knife-wielding enemies in teal shirts that turn 180 degrees, as I still don’t grok when it is wise to move towards them. Strangely, it’s when they are already facing you. It’ll take some practice, though I’m sure there are other elements down the road that will be just as hard to figure out.

A negative, sadistic part of me wonders if I’ll hit a wall when I get to the Blood Money-themed levels–yup, I know they are forthcoming–and tasked with tossing coins to distract guards, but we’ll see what those ultimately look like when I cross that path. Until then, may all your puzzles be murder.

Epic fail at tossing coins and strangling dudes in Hitman: Blood Money

I meant to write about Hitman: Blood Money some months ago, but I played it during an extended weekend over the summer where I hurt my lower back real bad and passed the days in somewhat of a fever haze. I mean, heck…I drew this comic during what I might consider my sanest moment. So maybe a part of me doesn’t believe how bad the controls were and frustrating the opening tutorial level was. Maybe I just wasn’t up to snuff with hitting controller buttons well. I’d try again, surely, and with all the talk about the newest Hitman: Absolution game hitting the market…well, I was in the mood for some stealthy kills.

On paper, these Hitman games sound like my kind of experience. They are described as a series of stealth action games, in which players are encouraged to use sneaking, disguises, and trickery instead of raw firepower to take out target assassinations. You control Agent 47, an assassin-for-hire, and take out targets using various methods. So far, all I’ve experienced of the franchise is the opening tutorial level in Blood Money, the hideout right after, and the beginning of the following level. I’m having a real hard time going the stealth route, instead skimping by on raw firepower, which is extremely disappointing and 100% less fun.

The controls are the biggest problem. Now, I’m playing Blood Money on the PlayStation 2. I picked this version up a long time ago for somewhere around $6, which seemed like a fair price. The beginning tutorial level, called “Death of a Showman,” is specifically constructed to show players all the different ways to be stealthy and crafty. Your assassination target is one Joseph Clarence, better known as “Mr. Swing King.” An accident at his amusement park caused the deaths of several children, and one parent seeks vengeance. The level is clearly divided into snippets, each one there to teach you a new trick: distraction, strangling, hiding bodies, wearing disguises, pretending to be someone else, messing with the environment, taking enemies as human shields, sniping, poisoning food and water, making the kill, and setting bombs. That’s…um, a lot of systems. Probably some I’m not even naming, such as using weapons (aiming, firing, reloading, figuring out how to equip/unequip) and hiding in closets. The two biggest hurdles for me are throwing coins and strangling dudes.

For tossing coins, you first have to hold the square button down to bring up the inventory. Yes, I wrote hold. You can then toss a couple of coins on the ground. The tutorial text tells you to do this. And so I do, over and over and over again. But the coins just drop at my feet, when clearly I need to get them out an open window to distract some guards nearby. You’d think the game would tell me how to aim, but no. I try using the R1 button, which is how you aim in first-person mode with a gun, but that does nothing. I try running and throwing the coins to no avail. It’s absolutely ridiculous. Eventually, I go online and learn that you have to hold in L3–which is the analog stick you walk around with–and that brings up an aiming cursor. Let me make sure this is clear: the stick you walk around with is also the stick you aim with. That means walking and aiming happen at the same time. Thankfully, Agent 47 is up against a desk, but otherwise I can’t see this working well one little bit.

Strangling dudes is just as hit or miss. Agent 47 comes pre-packed with some fiber wire. With this, he can sneak up behind someone, throw the wire around their neck, and choke them to death both silently and efficiently. Well, theoretically. I only had this scenario go down flawlessly once, and that’s the part where you’re supposed to do it anyways. Again, to bring the wire out of your inventory, you first have to hold square and then select from the items. To sneak, you hold down L1. However, to sneak with the wire ready to go, you instead hold down R1. Strangely, you can also do both if you love holding buttons down and hate your pointer fingers immensely. Then, to strangle a target, you have to get behind them and release the R1. That’s right. Letting go of a button creates the action, and what’s worse, there is no prompt so it is all guess work. Most of the time Agent 47 would just abruptly stand up behind the target, alerting them and other guards, forcing me to bust out a shotgun and blast my way to the next part.

The newspaper at the end of the level–which I think is a fantastic element–said that 28 people were slaughtered, one of them an innocent bystander. Well, that’s what happens when stealth fails and there’s no turning back. That’s not what I was going for, and without being able to play stealthy successfully, Blood Money is nothing more than a clunky, third-person shoot-em-up. After the tutorial level, you are in your hideout, where you can try other weapons and purchase upgrades for them. I started the next level, called “A Vintage Year,” but fell into the same problems previously mentioned when trying to choke a patrolling guard, thus throwing everything into shambles. Which, ultimately, is a big shame.

And no, you can’t change any of the controls. Trust me, I tried. Looked high and low and even in the middle. The most you can do is go inverted. So yeah: it’s either learn to play this way or go do something else. I think I know what I’ll be doing then.