Sunday, January 20, 2008

Hitman: Codename 47

Ah, going back to the beginning of a series. The Hitman franchise has been around for some time for some time though my introduction came only a few months ago with Blood Money. Which was awesome.

Given that awesomeness, I figured I should investigate the rest of the series. And what better place to start than the beginning? Hitman: Codename 47, released in 2000 by Eidos Interactive.

This one opens in some sort of creepy basement with a voice yelling out directions over a loudspeaker (and I begin to suspect Rockstar's Manhunt borrowed heavily from this game...)

Basically, it's a tutorial, you learn how to move and open doors. Then in one room you find your first weapons and learn how to stab dummies or strangle them with piano wire. Then on to another room for standard gun training followed by an outdoor area where you learn to move around in an environment. Pretty boring, but useful to me since I played Blood Money on the PS2 and have no idea how the controls are going to work on a PC.

Finally, you get to some guards and have to make your first real kill. Feeling old school, I dispatch the first one with the piano wire. Then take his outfit. Then realize something is missing. There's a locker right beside him, but the game won't let me stuff his body inside...blah. This was so easy to do in Blood Money. Fortunately, no one seems to find the body and I escape undetected.

First mission - Hong Kong

The game fast-forwards to a year later in Hong Kong. The assignment is to kill a Triad leader...but can't get at him right away. Instead, the International Contract Agency informs me that they have a plan to weaken his power. First move is to take out a negotiator.

I select my equipment and start the mission. It begins on the streets of Hong Kong. Wandering around, I find an elevator that'll take me to the roof of a building...and I know full well there's usually a reason the Hitman games give you access to a rooftop. Get to the top, unpack the sniper rifle...and wait. After a few minutes, my target arrives by limo. He's easy enough to spot since he's a different colour from everyone else.

Look through the scope...take aim...steady the rifle and BOOM! HEADSHOT! My target is down...but there's a problem. A big one, in fact. An armed helicopter is heading right for me. I'm spotted immediately and gunned down. Shit.

Go through this a few times until I realize that skipping cut scenes in this game doesn't speed up time. What's happening in the cut scene still happens. So by skipping the little movie of the helicopter heading for the building, I manage to buy enough time to pack up the rifle and get off the roof. Woo!

Second Mission

Next mission is still Hong Kong. This time the target is another negotiator and a bunch of triads. But I get equipped with a car bomb at the very beginning, so this should simplify things.

Wait for the target's limo to come into view and chase it to a restaurant. First problem though. The second I get close to it, one of the nearby gang members tells me to stay away from the car. Clearly I'll need a disguise...and the limo driver seems to be walking away. I follow him through an alley and check my equipment...and am disappointed.

See, in Blood Money if someone needed to be neutralized for the purpose of borrowing their clothes, so there were ways to do it without killing them. You could stab then with a sedative-filled syringe. You could tase them in one mission. Or if all else failed, you could just head-butt them. But in Codename 47, it seems killing them is the only option.

So once the limo driver stops to uh, relieve himself against a wall, I pull a silenced pistol and double-tap him in the chest. And watch him fall into an open sewer. Shit.

I start over the mission and go through it again and strangle the driver with piano wire this time. Get his clothes, dump body in sewer (which is rather difficult in this one...I miss just being able to click "Dispose body" in Blood Money.) Then go plant the bomb. Wait for triads to get in and detonate. Of course, the first time, I detonated it too soon and didn't take out everyone who supposed to be blown up. Blah. Replay until I get it right....


I think this is one of those cases where I'd have loved this game if I'd played it when it came out but going back after having all the glorious features of Blood Money makes a good deal of the game play seem like a chore.

The Grand Theft Auto series is pretty bad for this, with each new game adding features that SHOULD have been in the previous ones. I mean, really, after San Andreas I can't bring myself to play the earlier installments since they don't have the nifty feature where I can manually tag a location on the radar to get to it.

In the case of Codename 47, I'm missing many of the interesting methods of eliminating targets, the means of hiding bodies (come on, there's an open dumpster RIGHT THERE, WHY CAN'T I PUT THIS GUY IN IT?!?) Oh, and weapon upgrades. Being able to customize my weapons was one of the coolest parts of Blood Money.

So, will I keep playing? I really don't know. So far I've had to re-do each mission close to five times each before I got it right, which makes it pretty frustrating. I'd have probably loved this game in 2000 (Not that I had a computer that could run it back then) but now it'll probably sit around until a day I've got nothing else to play.

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