If you’ve not played Hitman 3, or indeed any of the other Hitman titles, this article is not for you.
Click on the the header tab at the top of this site and move on – but not before downloading at least one Hitman game before you do. You’ll be happy you did.
For the rest of you, allow me to posit an idea: Agent 47 is probably one half of the best comedy double acts in gaming. The other half is the player. Stay with me now…
Comedy isn’t really something people associate with the art of contract killing – well, unless you’ve played a Hitman game or watched Grosse Pointe Blank – but with the Hitman franchise, it’s something of a key ingredient.
Consider this proposal: your job as the player (as Agent 47) is to wander into a hostile environment and then blend in to pick up clues on how best to dispatch your assigned targets. You do this with the full knowledge that Agent 47 is about as anonymous as a drunken sports fan crashing a funeral after their team just won the league. Agent 47 is a bald, pale bloke who moves about in a jerky fashion, sporting a bar-code on the back of his head and a thousand-yard death-stare. He’s hardly inconspicuous.
Hitman And You Are The Best Comedy Double Act In Gaming
This, incidentally, is before the player starts mucking about. In the player’s hands, this ‘straight-man’ can do all manner of ridiculous things. He can throw a fire hydrant into someone’s face. He can pretend to be a yoga instructor and then kick his quarry off a mountain top. He can strut his stuff on a catwalk at a fashion show before meeting with a target and then strangling them. Punch the phrase ‘funny kills Hitman’ into YouTube and you may disappear down a rabbit hole of hilarity.
The reason players can do all of this is because Hitman offers them a level of agency they won’t find outside of open-world games, where all bets are off. Hitman is not an open-world game, although its expansive levels may create a different impression. Instead, IO Interactive offers players a series of wide-open spaces and let’s them get on with exploring, killing and, to a larger degree, experimenting.
It’s this ability to explore and act on the fly that makes Hitman so funny – with the player as ‘the crazy man’ and Agent 47 – with his stoic veneer – as the ‘straight man’. It’s a dynamic that IO Interactive are reportedly well aware of and an asset the development studio plugs into every Hitman game going. Well, in a roundabout way…
“I can’t speak for the development team, but I feel like Agent 47 is the perfect vehicle for what I want to do as the player. Not that he’s a blank slate, but he’s more of a vessel. He’s the way I want to approach the game,” says Executive Producer at IO Interactive, Forest Swartout Large.
“When Agent 47 is being funny it’s because the player being funny. It’s because when the player has chosen to take this particular disguise and this particular weapon and run with a scenario,” she says.
A lot of these ‘scenarios’ can happen within seconds. There are pre-determined paths that exist in Hitman games, but in order to find them, players have to discover them (or find them online). Those who play the game without searching for tips online may take longer to complete a mission, but it’s more than likely their experience will be unique within the player base.
“I think it’s really about Hitman as a game allowing players to be operating with the tools it provides and be emergent and hilarious. I can’t think of another game that allows you to do the things you do in Hitman.”
The Things You Can Do In Hitman
Take for instance the fact that players can complete a level in Hitman 3 in under 10 seconds. No, that is not a typo.
Mere days after Hitman 3 was released, some clever soul managed to work out that it was possible to beat its opening level in under 10 seconds. IO Interactive saw this coming.
“We love it,” says Swartout Large. “The speed runners are outrageously clever. But we know that to get to that point requires hours and hours – sometimes days – of working through the maps. We believe in the game empowering the player and we know in that space crazy things can happen. We love seeing records broken and we’re also celebrating for these people.”
There really isn’t a game franchise in existence that offers the combines the elements of Monty Python and James Bond that Hitman does.
“I can’t think of another game like Hitman,” says Swartout Large. “It’s a very special game. When we soft-booted Hitman back to its roots, we accomplished what we set out to achieve.”