Scar Boy and the Heart of Stone

LEGO Harry Potter is an experience. A one I thought I should get a reward for finishing as I was in an unfortunate position of playing it single player. Toffi, being a cat and completely uninterested in video games besides sitting in front of my screen and blocking the majority of it whilst I play, couldn’t really hold the other controller and thus I was stuck playing the games on my own. I finished them both. Years 1-4 and 5-7 and what a journey it has been! From cheerful running around, chills down my spine thanks to the amounts of nostalgia I was getting, all to mindless wiggling of my analog stick and yelling, “What am I supposed to do now?!” But you know what? Let’s forget all that and focus on something I’m known for. LORE! Or rather, the way the story is presented in these games. You see, adaptation is a tricky thing, as we’ve learned watching and analyzing both of the Hitman movies. It’s even more difficult if you adapt what was first a novel to a movie and then to a video game… considering that you’re making a video game for a younger audience than both of the previously mentioned source material. This is the struggle we will be looking at today.

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Even Toffi’s questioning my life choices.

And as a fun fact, I was actually planning a similar piece on the topic of old school Harry Potter games. You may or may not know I’m a huge Harry Potter fan. The series helped me out on multiple occasions and I still do replay the old PC titles every now and again. We’re talking the Philosopher’s Stone and Chamber of Secrets, mostly. What made those stand out on their own, however, is that even though they were created as movie tie-ins, they were loosely based on the book source material. We see characters like Norbert and Peeves in the games even though they were clearly missing from the movies. And as there is a handy narration accompanying the visuals, the story can be pieced together, albeit very lacking. Obviously. LEGO Harry Potter doesn’t have a handy narration. In fact, there is no voice acting whatsoever. A trait all LEGO games of this era share. Also, both of the LEGO Harry Potter games are based on movies, which already had problems with their adaptations of the story. This is where my question originates from – what is the story told in the LEGO Harry Potter games? And can you actually make sense of it? Today, I’m willing to find that out – forget absolutely everything I know about the original series and use pure creativity and analytical skills to retell you the story of LEGO Harry Potter. Hang on to your chairs. This will be quite a ride. Maybe even wilder than travel via the Floo Network.

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The sky is dark blue as we enter a peaceful neighborhood. For our soundtrack, a twinkly music plays over a simple establishing shot, presenting us with flowers, street lamps and an almost empty road, if not for a black cat. A stark contrast of colors – a man with long gray hair, wearing a bright violet cape enters the screen and approaches the cat wanting to pet it, but he’s quickly interrupted by an elderly woman in a similar attire. She turns his attention away from the cat, leaving the animal with nothing but a taste and hope for some caressing, playing and petting. Destroying its dreams, they turn around as a motorbike flies in, ruining the beautiful flowers. A giant man came all the way here to ask the woman to go for a date with him! But after a bouquet of flowers doesn’t get him the desired response, he instead just whips out a baby. Guess what? Neither the woman nor the gray-haired man wants it either as he has a weird scar on his forehead, so they just leave him at a random doormat. Talk about child abuse…

It was either a dream or the boy suddenly grew a couple of years, as we meet him again in a cupboard beneath stairs. This boy really cannot get any sleep. He’s immediately woken up by some random way-too-angry-for-her-own-good woman who gives him a frying pan. Who knows, maybe the kitchen utensil was simply burning her hand and thus making her angry? Another shot presents us with a speed eating contest and the scar boy desperately trying to keep up the pace as he puts even more stuff on an already full table. This charade then gets interrupted by a few letters dropping in unannounced and that’s apparently all it takes for the eating contest to stop. The scar boy and mustache man fight for these pieces of paper, and we see that the back of the letter sports a pretty Hogwarts logo and seal. Mustache man tears up the letter so another one comes in. And soon enough, it appears this neighborhood has been taken over by owls. But our characters could not care less about an owl infestation. They close the door and pretend that nothing ever happened. More than the violent birds, they are scared about the letters. Those keep coming and coming and the family is forced to flee from their homes.

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I’m having Fallout 4 flashbacks here…

They run to a remote island which seems a lot more dangerous than the place they lived beforehand. As sudden interruptions are a theme, the giant man is back and he scares the living crap out of the family. Scar Boy finally gets his letter. It only took a thousand owls and a huge bearded man… who for some reason kidnaps the kid. Well, if you intended to do that in the first place, why pass him to this other family?

In the next scene, Big guy and Scar Boy try to appeal to some weird short creatures in order to get a free roller coaster ride. They go down to a cavern to look at some gold coins, interrupt a weird creature party and, ultimately steal a random sack. After that mission is over, Big guy points Scar Boy towards a magical stick store and they enter it together. Scar Boy wreaks some havoc in the store by pointing various sticks at various objects in the room until he finally comes across a stick that doesn’t go entirely ape shit. Happy to find a non-crazy magic stick, Big guy and Scar Boy leave the store. Big guy suddenly whips out an entire cage holding a white owl from his butt, as well as a black pointy hat. Scar Boy cosplays as a wizard but sneezes, ruining the moment. Thus, he decides to forgo that little charade as he enters a train station. Big guy is nowhere to be seen and Scar Boy has to care for himself for a change. His train ticket shows platform 9¾ but there isn’t one like it in sight. Thankfully, the moment of doubt has no time to settle and once again, Scar Boy is met with people to guide him. This time, two red-headed guys appear from behind him. Their sweaters say G and F, so let’s call ‘em G-man and F-man respectively. There is also another red-headed boy, in light green clothes, as well as even more red-headed people coming over! Another boy is stopped by a red-headed woman as he attempts to run towards a brick wall. Good thing she stopped him – he might have disappeared like the other guys! We don’t want to lose another red-head!

Scar Boy takes the lead, willing to take the risk of complete disappearance. There’s only a white flash as he enters platform 9¾. Let’s hope the flash doesn’t indicate that he actually hit his head so hard that he’s lying somewhere in a hospital room at the moment, dreaming about all of the following happening…

Red-head jumps onto the platform as well, knocking over Scar Boy and breaking his glasses. An attempt to repair it ends up changing guy’s hat into a frog, so maybe it’s better the spell ricocheted. A brown-haired girl comes to the rescue and helps out Scar Boy with his glasses. It seems all of them boarded a train, ‘cause we switch locations to Hogsmeade. A familiar face – Big guy – is already waiting for us. The guy gets around! The kiddos take boats and cross a lake to get to a huge castle as moonlight creeps in the edge of the frame.

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The classic scene, very badly rendered.

Big Guy and the kiddos walk into a hall, where the elderly lady from before puts a wiggly brown hat on top of children’s heads. The gray-haired man in a violet robe is also there, as are a few other folks, including a bitter black-haired and also dressed full black, dude. As well as a man with a purple ball on his head. Two crests – one featuring a lion, the other, a snake – battle it out as Scar Boy has the wiggling hat on his head but ultimately, they settle down and Scar Boy joins Red-Head and Brown-Hair by a long table. A short scene then introduces us to a hall with multiple moving staircases and our trio looks, understandably, pretty worried but also in awe.

It’s time to meet the Bitter Dude. Brown-Hair jumps up and down in her seat trying to get his attention, maybe to tell him that there’s a rat running around the table. He ignores her, tells a story of a guy who could suddenly pull chains and then becomes even more angry as stuff levitates in front of him.

Later on, it’s time to get punched in the face with a broom. That is, when you are Red-Head. One of the other kiddos carries around a small blue ball and a blonde smart ass makes fun of it, which somehow ends up with the kiddo gaining height on his broom and flying away. He violently crashes into a brick wall as well as a couple of moving statues and ultimately falls down a good couple of meters, losing his blue ball in the process. Blonde Smart Ass gets a hold of the ball and throws it onto one of the statues, and it’s up to Scar Boy to take it back! He succeeds and people are impressed.

One day, walking up the moving stairs, our trio sees Violet Ball Man doing something suspicious, but they don’t care enough to stop him and ask questions, instead more enthralled to see a small man with glasses play with a stick. He uses it to make a cube of some bricks and then levitate it. Then, Brown-Hair dares Red-Head to do it. Instead of the cube, however, he makes other kiddos levitate, which seems to not faze anybody.

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STOP YELLING AT EVERYBODY!

The trio enter the previously mentioned hall with long tables, where now, pumpkins are flying near the ceiling. Blonde Smart Ass throws some chocolate at Brown-Hair, which makes her sad and she runs away. The immediate reaction of being offended is getting interrupted, however, as Violet Ball Man rushes into the hall and starts growling with a piece of chicken leg in his hand. Panic ensues. Scar Boy and Red-Head are tired of it so they just run after Brown-Hair. And she is crying! They find her in a bathroom, as is a giant blue troll who was simply taking a nice chill piss as some kiddos entered his private bubble. Obviously, this makes him very mad and he starts smashing around the entire place. It seems like everyone in this universe has some anger issues… And violence is best combated with violence. Scar Boy and Red-Head knock him out with a mace. Elderly Woman, Violet Ball Man and Bitter Dude enter the scene. Elderly Woman swings her stick to have flowers appear in the air. They all leave the troll lying down on the floor, but Violet Ball Man seems to be unamused about the state of affairs.

The next scene takes place in a greenhouse where the kiddos are making fun of a woman whose hand gets grabbed by a plant. She uses her stick to make some pretty colors happen and the plant gives in… but it’s vengeful! It sneaks from behind and takes her stick away, kidnaps Red-Head for some reason and pins him to a wall. Guess they are all okay though as Scar Boy takes his broom and joins others dressed in the same clothes. They all jump on their flying broomsticks and enter a giant pitch. Red-Head, Brown-Hair and Big Guy are watching them. Scar Boy wants to show off but is interrupted by a bunch of green-robe guys flying towards him at high speed. There’s also a tiny golden ball with sticks going to the sides which appears next to him. Scar Boy rushes after it! He sticks his hand out to catch it but is violently interrupted by his broomstick as it stops in midair and wants to shake him off! Maybe that wouldn’t happen if you didn’t try to show off, eh?

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Who let this dude on the field?

Brown-Hair looks at the crowd through binoculars and is very unamused as both Violet Ball Man and Bitter Dude are speaking. So she takes Red-Head and they make their way to that side of the crowd. Brown-Hair whips out her stick and sets Bitter Dude’s robe on fire making him even more bitter. This stops the talks and, in the time it took them to do it, Scar Boy manages to take control of his broomstick once again, and he finally catches the golden ball after some battles with a green-robed individual. What I truly mean by “catching,” however, is literally falling on top of the golden ball, as Scar Boy’s broom hits the ground and launches him forward. Seriously, he might just be the clumsiest of kiddos on this pitch.

Back to the short man with the glasses as this time he gets out his stick and a dance ball emerges! Red-Head uses this occasion to show off his dance moves, to the dismay of people sitting next to him. Even the magical dance ball has enough and it shatters itself, freeing some pieces which then the short man with the glasses scatters around the room. I guess that dance was horrible…

It’s time for some proper management in this place and this starts up with the Big Guy bringing in a few large trees. As we’re all well aware, plants produce oxygen and thus improve the quality of life. This, in addition to new red hats forced upon kiddos by the Elderly Woman, makes for a hopefully more relaxed environment and refuses further anger issues. To commemorate this occasion, Red-Head and Scar Boy also receive gifts. Red-Head’s is some random bits and a spare torso with an R on it (R for Red-Head!), whilst Scar Boy gets a dirty coat which makes him disappear. First left on some random stairs, then moved to an island, then kidnapped, then left at an old castle… they really want this kid gone!

With the new set of rules in place, it is time to break them! Scar Boy shows off with his new coat whilst Red-Head is much more badass and sneaks in without it. They watch what seems to be a self-insert romantic comedy with Red-Head getting kissed by Brown-Hair. Scar Boy gets both a woman and a man, albeit appearing much older than him. Not as old as the Elderly Violet Robe Man, who catches them red-handed!… before deciding on checking out the screen himself…

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Hold ya horses, that stick is worrying enough.

Even though Elderly Woman was all about setting the right mood, she scares the living crap out of one of the kiddos. To reflect on the scene, the trio of Scar Boy, Red-Head and Brown Hair leave the castle to confront Big Guy who really is all over the place! This time, it seems that he has brought a mysterious ball which Red-Head immediately recognizes as a dragon egg. Thankfully, Big Guy has a manual! Egg and fire make a dragon! Handy little tip for those who wanted one. But that’s not the only animal Big Guy has under his care. Inside of his shack reveals a sleeping dog and a unicorn which has a terrible fever! The dog wakes up at a sound of Blonde Smart Ass breaking some glass outside. It’s very expensive glass, you see, so Big Guy violently opens the door and the impact sends Blonde Smart Ass flying! Other animals also aren’t amused. The dog jumps out of the shack and so does the unicorn which runs into the forest which was supposed to be resting in bed, goddamnit! They gotta find him!

The crew of Big Guy, Blonde Smart Ass, Scar Boy, Red-Head, Brown Hair and The Dog enter the suddenly dark and evil forest. They split up in groups. Scar Boy, Blonde Smart Ass and The Dog come across a mysterious flying dark figure with a knife and fork, ready to attack our lost unicorn! They interrupt it and the other group runs to the rescue. They’re too slow. The figure escapes, chased off by a half-horse half-human creature. A friend of Big Guy’s as well as the unicorn’s.

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This is a rubber duck. You wouldn’t know it is if I didn’t tell you.

Adrenaline-rushed and adventure-inspired, it’s not the end of the weird creature land as the trio of Scar Boy, Brown Hair and Red-Head suddenly encounters a three-headed dog who seems to be asleep. Violet Ball Man appears and destroys a very expensive instrument with his stick, which wakes the dog up. Maybe dogs in this universe just simply don’t like things getting destroyed. Red-Head saves the day once again with his musical talent. He pulls out a trumpet and plays a few tunes. Shame Brown Hair isn’t keen on music and the trio has to bribe the dog with a new squeaky rubber duck toy before they can pursue their imaginary adventure. Unfortunately, people met on this journey are pretty awful and they litter everywhere! The incident goes as far as Red-Head tripping over a sword, and he sadly cannot participate in the secret screening of a new romantic comedy, hosted by Violet Ball Man. This doesn’t go as planned. Scar Boy refuses to pay for the event and the plan to release some of the stress of this castle backfires as Violet Ball Man gets angry and literally sets the place on fire. Fighting violence with violence, Scar Boy removes his limbs and kills him but this puts way too much pressure on him and he ultimately passes out. The dark mysterious figure from the forest appears to get the payment anyways, but it’s just a ghost so it gets laughed at.

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THIS PLOT TWIST!

Scar Boy wakes up in a hospital, and decides to offer the payment to the Elderly Violet Robe Man instead. For that, he releases Red-Head and Brown Hair who both look terribly worried and tired. All of this is circumvented by literal chests of pills, however, so it’s all good. The moral of the story is, if you can’t get the stress levels down naturally, you better medicate.


A big thank you to my Patreons for their continued support.
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Hitman’s best levels according to the series’ community

Everyone has their favorite Hitman level. It’s a game about player choice, where you, as the best assassin in the world, have to figure out the best of ways to go about solving a problem presented to you. In many cases, this will involve pushing an unsuspecting NPC off a cliff or silently taking care of them with a fibre wire after getting them into a favorable position. But that introduction is useless. You already know what the Hitman series is and why you, as the player, love it so much. You may even have a favorite level yourself! After all, it is the player who is the target (pun intended) of the overly thought-out level design and whom all of the kinks and details are polished out for. Having that in mind, let’s see which levels succeeded in being the most memorable. And whom better to ask than the Hitman community?

HITMAN Season One – Sapienza:

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GuLe:

Hi! I’m GuLe, I do HITMAN videos. I can’t really remember when I started playing Hitman, but Absolution wasn’t out yet, so it was probably like 2010 or something.

What I do remember however is that once I played a game about a bald killer (spoiler alert: it was Hitman 2: Silent Assassin) at a cybercafé. I was impressed, so I looked it up and found out that the series actually consisted of 4 games. I played all 4 of them in order and loved them!

I didn’t join the community until HITMAN came out and I made an account on HitmanForum and started using the subreddit. I did lurk those places before though – well before HITMAN! I just played the damn game, no specific playstyle, but after HITMAN came out and I started making videos, I decided to focus on style points more than anything. And with that, speed usually comes naturally. You’d think I always go for speedruns, but that’s not the case. But teabagging the leaderboards is always fun!

As for my favorite level, for me it’d be Sapienza. Here’s the thing about HITMAN – when you’re evaluating a level you have to consider the entire map, and the potential for contracts you can play on it. With the other Hitman games, you’re only talking about the main mission. I have 2470+ hours in HITMAN right now so the main missions are pretty dead to me (even though I’d still pick World of Tomorrow if we were only talking about the main mission, and I think Silvio’s story is the most interesting out of all targets). But I still mostly play Contacts mode, and as Sapienza has huge potential for it, I tend to visit it a lot. It’s also the best looking map! Huehuhuehuehue.

Hitman Contracts – Traditions of the Trade:

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RadeR:

Hello, my name is RadeR. Sometimes I’m a fiction writer, half the time I’m a music producer, but most times I’m just RadeR. The first time I heard of Hitman was back in 2002, when my dad brought a bootlegged Hitman 2 copy back home. We’d play with “the bald guy” all around, and I remember bits and pieces about what I’d soon know as Hidden Valley, Basement Killing, Anathema, and the Gontranno Sanctuary. And whenever dad left the computer unattended while 47 was in the garden shed, I’d go and waste all the ammo on the pigs outside. Don’t sue me, PETA.

At some point in 2016, I really wanted to record gameplay of Hitman and a friend of mine said that I should share my videos on the Hitman subreddit. That’s when I discovered White’s blog and spent the next week reading it and being mesmerized at both the details I’ve missed and the passion displayed in those writings. So I sent White a message on a whim, just to express my opinion and I got a Discord link in exchange. That’s how I met a lot of key members of the community, with whom I’ve kept in touch ever since, and it’s safe to say the people I met form one of the most balanced and friendly communities I’ve ever been a part of.

It’s also the most diverse as we all play video games for different reasons. Personally, I play games for the story and the vibes. Graphics or mechanics are usually neglectable for me, as long as the journey I’m offered is rewarding, compelling, or simply beautiful. Sometimes, I try and speedrun games for fun, mostly obscure titles like Disney’s Tarzan and something like that. But even so, the vibe of that particular jungle is what makes me look another way when the controls break my run.

This is how my list of favourites is the way it is. Bjarkhov Bomb is one of my favourite levels of the Hitman series. There’s something about that freezing isolation, in that “dangerous environment”, that no snow engine has yet managed to replicate for me. But honestly, it’s hard to pick a single favorite. I did have one for a very long time, but then, a contender surfaced, as both these levels influenced the book I am writing in terms of destinations my character visits. I have the visual aspects of Rotterdam from Deadly Cargo engraved in my brain for when the time comes to paint a scene in that city, but I have already envisioned myself and my characters visiting the Thermal Bath Hotel over in Budapest. So I’ll have to go with the remade Traditions of the Trade.

Hitman Contracts has always attracted me for its dark and gritty theme. I can’t begin to describe how immersed I was when playing it. By the rain, by the visuals, by the music, the Budapest Hotel is not just my favourite Hitman location, but it may as well be one of my all time favourite locations in gaming altogether. In terms of gameplay, there’s not much I can say that hasn’t been said. Quickly go and pick the pool lock, drown Fritz, time it so you can steal the bellboy’s key, sneak into Frantz’s room from the other balcony, dress as his goomba, steal the bomb, #winning. My own personal input? Just load a saved game and walk around, listen to the great tracks that flood the hotel, go through the forbidden corridor, explore and lose yourself in the hotel. Oh, and if you happen upon the roulette, ALWAYS play on black.

HITMAN Season One – Paris:

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Lilith:

Hey, I’m Lilith. Probably better known for heading the Hitman Discord server.

I bought HITMAN on impulse and then decided to venture into the subreddit and HitmanForum for a bit. Now it’s just Discord. White actually got me to pick up the other Hitman games and play through some of those.

My playstyle really varies. Had I been asked this while I still had a fondness for the HITMAN game, I would’ve said immersed pistolero. SO/SA, taking it slow. Times changed. Eventually I started mowing down everyone as a means to pass boredom while waiting for the next episode down the line and that turned out to be fun.

I almost wanted to put Patient Zero’s Vector as my favorite mission but I don’t feel like GOTY edition. Honestly, though, it’s the least clunky level and still, you just snipe. So, I guess Paris, simply due to the sheer time spent on it thanks to signature IOI delays, and also having the 2015 leak to see how it evolved. Also pretty sound Swiss cheese design philosophy that was executed well. Going back to it now I can’t find anything really memorable. My sentiment for the game shifted majorly. There was one or 2 times I got escalation speedruns done with one try but in hindsight, there weren’t many “wow” moments.

HITMAN Season One – Sapienza:

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Introvert_:

I’m Introvert_. I’m a Hitman enthusiast though I don’t pretend to be good at any of the games. I upload game content regarding Hitman to YouTube.

Hitman first came to my attention in 2012. Blood Money was a game I was aware of through videos on YouTube I stumbled across, namely TheAuzzieGamers’ playthrough which I was a huge fan of. I got the game on Steam around October of the same year (unaware that Absolution was to be released only a month later) and was instantly hooked by its open-ended playstyle and puzzles. It was a style of game I had never played before, and one to this day I still struggle to find emulated as well anywhere else.

As for the community, I got into it around 2 months before the release of HITMAN’s Paris Level — creating a profile on the HitmanForum and slowly learning more about the games, the lore, speedrunning community and the people. Some of them I already knew about, such as Kotti — I had seen his Blood Money run from AGDQ 2014 and was blown away by what he could achieve by manipulating the AI and seeing him complete the entire game in the time it took me to half complete 1 level.

Personally, I love trying to achieve Silent Assassin in the most absurd way. I don’t roleplay the game, though I sometimes try to speed-run my own strats. The puzzle element motivates me to play the game more than anything else — how to get from A to B while killing X in a sneaky way, and all the elements that come between that. It’s a hard act to balance though, as if the puzzle is too easy, it’s not a fun challenge, but if it’s too difficult, it becomes tedious and a chore. I think for the most part, the level design of the series has been pretty superb, and definitely adds to the fun of exploring and having that “oh, I can complete this challenge differently now” moment.

Sapienza for me is my favourite level of the series. While it’s easy to say the level is good because it is “big”, I’m more a fan of intricate level design and the way everything fits together like a jigsaw puzzle. I see Sapienza not as one level per se, rather 3 or 4 sub-levels that are meshed together fantastically, all with the ability to feed off each other. It’s why I feel levels like Marrakesh and Colorado (while still a good level in its own right) dropped the ball for me, as while it has sub-levels, they seem entirely separate from everything else happening in the level and don’t talk to each other. I like to approach the level by luring the targets away from everyone else. I like the idea of the NPCs wondering where a certain character went, only to find a corpse, or an unconscious half-naked guard with no gun, or indeed nobody at all. It’s how I approach most of the game anyway, but there are some good setups in Sapienza that fit really well with the setting and narrative of the mission.

Hitman Codename 47 – Meet Your Brother:

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AlyMar1994:

Hello! I’m AlyMar1994, and known in some places as Nehpys. I play video games most of the time, and as of now I’m studying music at my high-school. I also run the HitmanWiki.

I actually started to play Hitman very recently. At minimum… five years ago? I knew of the series long before that; I’d watched lots of videos on YouTube and such before getting all the games, especially the Hitman: Absolution playthrough by an Irishman named “CallMeKevin.” I also got into the community more recently, in the last two years? Can’t remember all that well. I found it when browsing Google and such, and didn’t join it at first. I didn’t even get a welcome at first either! What assholes!

Since I don’t feel playstyles split up the community, I’d say I’m more of a roleplayer in Hitman (and really many other games as well). Now, I’m not a “look at pot plants”-type of player; I mostly like to walk around and take in the atmosphere and what the developers try to build, as atmosphere is incredibly important to a series like Hitman, but I don’t take it to the extremes of “stalking my target for 10 minutes because I conveniently forget the level every time I play,” or “I like to stalk my targets with a sniper rifle and not even kill them with it because that’s fun.” At other times I like to go the pure Silent Assassin route, because that’s kinda fun. Not Suit Only though. Definitely not Suit Only.

I enjoy how Hitman levels are built, and how they present the atmosphere. That’s what motivates me to play them. I really love Traditions of the Trade from Hitman: Codename 47, but I also love House of Cards from Hitman: Blood Money. Both equally have great atmospheres to me, even if the latter isn’t really that great in gameplay (but screw the haters, it’s still great). Pretty much all of Hitman: Absolution, too, is great at the atmosphere. While the gameplay wasn’t superb by any means (except King of Chinatown, but even that could use some polish), the game nailed what I feel should be the general atmosphere and feeling of a Hitman game if modified. The “how they’re built” part isn’t really mentioned here, as it’s not really something I can describe. It’s one of the “if it’s good, it’s good” things.

But actually, my favorite level has to be Meet Your Brother from Codename 47. While you can’t really take the level and play it in many different ways, I always find it entertaining. The mood, the atmosphere, and the feeling of obliterating all the No. 48s just to destroy Ort-Meyer himself is great. The ability to hold a Minigun and at the end of a corridor, shred down anyone who dares step a millimeter in your sight — it’s awesome! Definitely not something I experience in many Hitman levels. While Meet Your Brother is no Traditions of the Trade, House of Cards, Attack of the Saints nor Return to Gontranno, the level itself holds a special place in my heart for what it is and what it could be, along with all of Codename 47.

Hitman Codename 47 – The Lee Hong Assassination:

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Timothy Mark:

Hey, I’m Timothy — I am your average person with too much free time. I love games and have done for years, especially adventure games like the old Lucas Arts point-and-clicks and original Telltale games (in their Monkey Island/Sam and Max era of actual games with gameplay). I also love immersive sims like Thief, Dishonored, Prey, etc., and weird and unique games like Psychonauts or Firewatch or The Witness or Far Cry 2 (right there is a point of contention, I am sure). Other than playing games, I’m very active in online communities and have been for a long, long time now! Currently, I am a moderator over at Double Fine official forums and an active member of the Hitman subreddit and Discord communities.

I started playing the Hitman series sometime in the past 5–8 years. I began with Absolution, played the tutorial level, got completely bored and assumed the entire series was like that. BOY, WAS I WRONG. I purchased Blood Money on Steam after reading all over the place that the game was the best in the series and about fifty times better than Absolution, so I decided “ah what the hell, I’ll give it a go!” I fondly remember the first real level in the Vineyard overwhelming me in the most fascinating and beautiful of ways. Not understanding that one of the core goals of the game was to try and attain Silent Assassin, I fumbled my way through the level like a complete moron, killing plenty of guards in the way but ultimately completing the objective. The thing that struck me about Blood Money was that each level played its full hand with no strings attached and it was up to me to pick which cards I wanted to play with. I could bring in any assortment of weapons, access the buildings from many different angles, choose what disguises to wear, take as much time as I like, and the game allowed me to do so. No restrictions, no telling me how to play, no hints popping up. The game wasn’t scared that I was missing content, or taking too long to complete objectives. The self confidence it had in its own mechanics and design amazed me to no end, and I ended up playing that first level of Blood Money dozens of times before I even considered moving on to the next level.

I actually never completed Blood Money that first time playing, nor for many years after that. I ran into the ‘issue’ where I would play the first five or six levels so much that I ended up burning myself out. But it wasn’t a bad burn out, it wasn’t from grinding away at pointless crap. It was from the joy of experimentation that the game sits back and lets you experience. Sometime in 2015, I spotted at my local game retailer the ‘Hitman Collection’ for ten dollars. It came with games 1–4 and I immediately bought it, remembering my incredible experience with the first half of Blood Money. I decided I would play through the series from beginning to end to get ready for the release of HITMAN, which was announced at this point, and I did just that. I played from Codename 47 all the way to the end of Absolution. I even played Sniper Challenge and the Hitman Christmas Game, which is, obviously, the best Hitman game as all true fans know.

Games 1–4 of the series are easily the peak for me. Gameplay aside, the atmosphere of these games, the philosophies they explore, and simply observing the strangely interesting character of 47 work and evolve over these games was a very memorable adventure. Each of these games is so confident in itself and fully embraces its identity and tone. There were a couple of points in these games where I didn’t enjoy the gameplay completely; but the world, sound design and music made me want to keep playing. There is a reason why soundtrack composer Jesper Kyd is specifically credited in the opening title videos of Contracts even before the main menu. His music is phenomenal and his work on games 1–4 makes for some of my favourite soundtracks of all time, along with the music in the original The Sims.

Picking my favourite level in the series so far is extremely tough. I have to weigh in on the gameplay, the tone, the atmosphere, the music, the level design and more to really choose my favourite. After much deliberation I decided to choose The Lee Hong Assassination from Codename 47. This level is the culmination of a series of levels all set in Hong Kong, where 47 performs assassinations in order to get Lee Hong in a position where he can be killed. The actual level blew my mind when I first played it. In my opinion, this is the first level in the entire series that really set the bar for a Hitman level. All future Hitman games have this level to thank for its design sensibilities. The level begins when you enter the lobby of a restaurant, from here you have a series of doors that you can attempt to enter, some guarded by guards. There is an easily attainable outfit nearby, but first-time players of the level are not likely to figure this out straight away and are instead drawn to the dining/restaurant area. You can talk to the barman, who provides something interesting I won’t spoil here, you can explore the restaurant, you can find outfits, you can discover an incredibly beautiful garden, you can find numerous strange little rooms, and weave your way through the beautiful and atmospheric maze that makes up this level. This is the first level in the series where it seemed that Io-Interactive really figured out how to design a level that just you figure it out. The level had confidence that you were smart enough to solve its puzzles and it respected you as a player. There is a lot more I could say about The Lee Hong Assassination, but much of it is best experienced first-hand. To summarise without spoiling; the joy of discovery is wonderful, the strange and memorable characters in this level have stuck with me, and the sandbox nature of the level has informed the series’ design over the years, so I see The Lee Hong Assassination as one of the most important levels in the series’ history, and my favourite Hitman level to date.

Hitman Blood Money – A Vintage Year:

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Vinnie_Sinistra:

I’m Rob, known online as Vinnie. I’m a veteran and printing pressman at a printing company. I’ve played the Hitman series for about 16 years now. I started with Hitman 2: Silent Assassin, fell in love and continued pursuing the franchise ever since. I never really got “involved” in the community until right before the release of the newest installment (HITMAN). I got pulled into the community by the Hitman subreddit and the HitmanForum.

My preferred playstyle is very realistic and Silent Assassin-like. I try and only use the fibre wire or other silent weapons and only use guns for shooting cameras or causing distractions.

My all-time favorite level doesn’t quite exist but it would be a perfect mixture of Blood Money and Contracts levels. When it comes to existing ones, A Vintage Year is amazing and Beldingfold Manor is thrilling. As far as level detail, HITMAN’s Sapienza is great.

Ultimately though, I think I’m gonna go with A Vintage Year. I remember when I first got the game and I replayed that level over and over… I was intrigued by the level design at the time. Over the years, I played it so much that I developed a distinct strategy I always use. Honestly, it’s muscle memory at this point. I start off by sedating the guard under Don’s window to get his outfit. I then enter the vineyard, climb the gutter near his window, and sneak through. I equip the fibre wire and assassinate him while he plays his violin. Afterwards, I climb out of the window and jump off to the roof back to where I sedated the guard from earlier. I change back into 47’s suit, make my way down to the docks and sedate the guard smoking by the wooden crates. This gives me his disguise. Then, I enter the elevator and head for the secret entrance in the wine cellar. I enter the room where Manuel will eventually come and snort his line of cocaine, and head for the door exiting the door. Upon the target exiting the room, I fibre wire him and hide him in the crate located in the room. I head back down to the docks, put back on the 47 suit, then leave by plane. I honestly think the scenery of this level is absolutely gorgeous and it’s amazing that you can see so much of it even when in reality, the level isn’t very spacious. It proves that the level doesn’t have to be huge to be great and is something IO should consider nowadays.

Hitman Codename 47 – Traditions of the Trade:

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FrankFuchs:

So I’m FrankFuchs and I guess I am here today because I rather like those Hitman games by IO Interactive. I’m the biggest Hitman fan in Finland, and if you disagree with that, you can come here and discuss it. Then we’ll have crêpes and beer, and I’ll tell you that I, in fact, hate basically all kinds of elitism, gatekeeping and bragging, and I don’t think I’m anywhere even close to being the biggest Hitman fan here or anywhere else; and I just wanted to have crêpes and beer with you.

My introduction to Hitman was in my teen years. I can’t be sure of the exact date, but most likely it was summer 2003, when my cousin was visiting. He had this PlayStation 2 game with him he was quite excited about: Hitman 2: Silent Assassin. I played the tutorial and he let me fail miserably on the Anathema mission. Despite that, the 3D world, binoculars, disguises, guards doing inspections at the gate, fibre wire, anaesthetic, real-time map, stashing items in crates, and that really slow, but oh-so cool, sneaking blew me away. Not to mention the music and voice acting!

Nowadays I’m easy to reach on HitmanForum and THE Hitman Discord, but it’s been a long journey. I’m quite a private person, and even as a fan of… anything, actually, I usually don’t feel the need to find like-minded people and form a community or any of that. I can just enjoy whatever it is that I like by myself and maybe a friend or two, although I can tell that getting older has reinforced that need to share things with others. It’s probably so my fragile memory isn’t the only thing recording my likes, and others can remind me in case I forget. It couldn’t possibly be anything deeper, like shared joy being a greater joy. I was rambling there a bit, but I was supposed to lead into how I found the online community between Hitman 2 and Contracts releases. I wasn’t really that active; I maybe browsed a few interesting topics every few months on the HitmanForum. I think I had two registered accounts, as I just forgot what the first one was, and these days I can’t remember either one. I’m fairly sure I made less than five posts between those two ancient accounts. That’s strange considering how used to I am to being called Frank these days.

When it comes to Hitman, I am a slow and methodical player. Why run if you can walk? Even if the game mechanics wouldn’t punish me, I like to play in a way that wouldn’t cause suspicion in the real world, though I do wish the game would take care of that for me, so I can do the minimum amount of pretending. That’s my preferred way of playing at least. Naturally I change it up a bit from time to time. Atmosphere and story are the things to nail down to get me to play, and interesting gameplay mechanics, and challenging obstacles and puzzles will keep me coming back. Or if the developers are lazy, just stick excellent music in there, and I’m stupid enough to play the game instead of listening to that song on YouTube.

So if I would have to name just a single level as my favorite, I think I would go with Traditions of the Trade from Codename 47. I would still like to give a special shout out to all the Russia missions from Hitman 2, however, as the atmosphere there is just unrivaled, and even the stricter missions with less freedom are just a joy to play. There’s tension there, which is severely lacking these days, I feel.

Traditions of the Trade has a bit of that, as in the nuke doesn’t have too many ways of getting to it, which is one of the few flaws the mission has. But this freedom versus tension and difficulty to me is one of those battles that is at the forefront of my Hitman experience nowadays. Hitman is a series that is distinguished by the social stealth element, and Traditions of the Trade is one of those missions which acknowledges that. It is public, yet guarded. The number of installed metal detectors, hotel room keys and the DO NOT DISTURB signs you can place on any door were all welcome surprises when playing the game for the first time (which for me was between Blood Money and Absolution, so fairly recently in terms of Hitman — curb your accusations of nostalgia!). I can’t even imagine how many movies do the “put the DO NOT DISTURB sign on the door to keep hotel staff away” trick, and here you can actually do that with any room you like. I should mention that I consider the scripted sauna kill the most gruesome in the entire franchise. There is nothing more cold-blooded than holding down the door and staring at your victim when he is struggling to get out to save his life. It says something about 47 too — he could easily have held down the door and not been visible from the inside, yet he watches.

Ultimately, I think Traditions of the Trade approaches the assassin fantasy in a convincing way that is easy for anyone to imagine. Enter the hotel, check in, get a sneak at the register, go to your room, and start thinking about how you are going to do this. Compare the location of your room to the target’s room. Maybe take an innocuous stroll past the target’s room. There’s a guard at the door, didn’t expect that. And he tells me to piss off, really didn’t expect that. Perhaps it’s time to track down the other Fuchs.

Hitman 2: Silent Assassin – St. Petersburg Stakeout:

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Mad Max:

Hi, I’m Mad Max. I’ve been a member of the HitmanForum since 2004 and Lilith’s Hitman Discord server since its launch in 2016. Like so many others, I was introduced to the series with the release of the Hitman 2: Silent Assassin demo disc (Official U.S. PlayStation Magazine, Issue 62, November 2002).

I found H2: SA highly engrossing and wanted to read more about it. In the process of seeking out reviews, I discovered the HitmanForum. I would often check the front page for news, interviews, etc., before I finally signed up on December 12, 2004. By then I had also played Hitman Contracts. However, as I’ve played H2: SA more, and more recently, than the others, I’ll focus on that.

I tend to play missions somewhat loosely the first time to study the lay of the land. My goal is to be efficient; a Silent Assassin rating is ideal, of course, but Professional is acceptable. (When I was twelve/thirteen, I probably spent more time turning levels into shooting galleries than trying to complete my objectives in a manner befitting of Mr. 47’s skillset.)

Choosing a favorite mission is difficult, but one I’ve always been fond of is St. Petersburg Stakeout — the first mission 47 is sent on following the revelation that Padre Vittorio was not at the Villa Borghese in Sicily. “It’s seen its share of bullets and betrayal over the years and not an easy place for a comeback.” What an introduction! I like this mission because of the sense of urgency 47 and the player feels at not knowing for certain who the target is, as Diana feeds him information: “That narrows it down, but still no positive ID. My time slot is slipping — any additional info?” Furthermore, having to transport a weapon over half a kilometer of cold, hostile territory to a vantage point really helps set the mood. “I have to rely on the element of surprise — they don’t expect me, and if I keep it cool, clean and quiet, they’ll never know what hit them.” All of this amounts to a very memorable experience for me.

After deboarding the train, I retrieve the Agency pickup from locker #137, careful to avoid civilians in the metro with my new SVD Dragunov. Using the sewers to navigate, I change into the soldier’s uniform lying beside the truck next to the manhole north of the metro exit. I then board the truck next to the Neva River that takes me to the apartment complex across the street from the Pushkin Building. Once there, I head to the 3rd floor, pick the lock to the apartment facing southwest of the corridor, and set up. I wait until the patrolling soldier is either two floors above or below me before taking the shot to buy time for my retreat.

“I have visible contact and positive ID.”


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Firing The Torpedo

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The stenches felt overwhelming, even to him, who smells blood almost each and every single day. It was his blood, though. Maybe that was the distinction needed to be made to feel revolted. Tied to a chair, hurt and bruised, his mind was wandering. A predicament not the best for his current position, especially as his target was in the same building as him. But how to get out? His tools nowhere to be seen, armed just with his own bare hands?…

He closed his eyes briefly as a drop of sweat fell from his forehead. The pain was great, but he’s been in worse. His feelings were the culprit here. The lack of power he felt over his current situation. The frustration and lack of immediate solution. He took a deep breath once again and did a brief analysis.

The room was small and quite empty. There were only a few barrels in the corner but they were of no use even if he managed to somehow make his way to them. The door handle was one of those annoying ball ones, meaning there was no good ways other than the intended one to open it. The walls were splattered with drops of dark blood and various bodily fluids, after his head was hit against them. His own white shirt was wet from those as well. It felt uncomfortably sticky in front, and very itchy in the back, after a knife quickly entered and exited the area right below one of his ribs.

Suddenly, he felt very ill. The adrenaline was slowly lifting from his body and all that was left was the burning pain of his back and the throbbing sensation of his forehead. His neck was sore in places where his tie was sitting. He was quite a skinny man for his age but his weight was still enough to slice the fabric into his skin once the aggressor grabbed the other end of the tie and lifted him.

There were also scratches and cuts on his wrists and hands. After a few failed attempts at escaping the plastic cable ties, he felt blood dripping and mixing with sweat. Pain and trauma caused a fever and over the course of barely a few minutes, he was exhausted. The feeling of powerlessness certainly didn’t help it, either.

And then, he heard a loud bang. And then another. Three bangs coming from the corridor neighboring the room he was in. The gap underneath the door revealed a spillage of dark red liquid as it crawled onto the tiled flooring. Then, the door sprung open and a man wearing an olive drab uniform appeared. In addition, there was a hat on his head and the shadows it was casting hid the man’s facial features. His heavy black military boots stood in a pool of blood which, from what could be seen, originated from someone’s skull. The man in the uniform took a couple of steps, his soles leaving bloody imprints on the floor. His hand, covered by a black leather glove, shut the door behind him.

A few more steps and he was now by the chair. The man tied to it tried to look up but his neck interrupted the movement with a sharp pain. Who was this mysterious man and why did he kill people who were guarding the interrogation room? Was he here to save him? Was he sent by the Agency? Who was he?

The man went around and then behind him. He unsheathed something that sounded like a blade and definitely didn’t instill hope. Thus, cold chills went through the hot and sore back of the one who was tied to a chair before he realized his hands were suddenly free.

They still hurt, they were bloody and scratched. But they were free. He waved them around a bit to regain the feelings. His mind was racing but he didn’t want to show it.

“Returning the favor,” a voice sounded. It felt familiar but not exactly clear. Realizing that he was weaponless and the other man had a blade, the decision ended up being to stay calm and silent.

“47,” he heard. “Buddy, are you okay?”

He turned his head so quickly, he felt a painful pinch. Looking from below, the hat’s shadows were no longer covering the man’s features, and the one called “47” could now make out a big nose, square-shaped face, and maybe a bit overgrown ginger hair coming from underneath the headgear.

“You?” he grunted, genuinely surprised.

“Didn’t expect me, eh?”

“Can’t say I did,” 47 agreed.

“Well, I’m getting you out of here. Whether you like it or not.”

The second sentence was added after a short period of silence, meaning it was triggered by 47’s behavior. This awkward, wordless demeanor was almost too still, if this could even be said in regards to this man.

47 also noticed something was off. He was extremely grateful for helping him in this predicament before it could get any worse but he couldn’t go through with saying it aloud. There was a barrier stopping him from expressing his feelings in such a way, but then again – maybe something should be said once a man saves you from what might have been a certain death? He cautiously stood up and the ginger-haired man jumped to shake his hand. It surprised 47 so much he was left dumbfounded as his bloodied wrist was going up and down repeatedly.

“It’s nice to see you, man! Really! So happy I could finally return the favor!”

“You did me a solid, Smith,” 47 muttered.

“Oh yes, I have,” the ginger-haired man replied with a wink.

“Is there anything I could do?”

“Start by pulling your pants down.”

A strange request for sure, and the confusion was now thick in the air. “What do you mean?” felt like a wrong type of a reply, after all the message was quite clear. Thankfully, Smith was the one to open his mouth before 47 even could.

“If it makes you feel better, I can drop mine first.”

He was still holding the blade in his hand, and 47 could now see that it was a short and very sharp kitchen knife. Its tip cut the belt of the olive drab uniform, and Smith’s pants dropped to the floor revealing his red and white boxers.

“I have a new pair of undergarments,” he announced. “I’m being loyal to my favorite sports team, you see.”

Upon closer inspection, the elastic band of the boxers was decorated with three letters which 47 couldn’t quite make out. He was staring at them long enough for Smith to notice it, however.

“Wanna see it up close?” he offered.

“I think I’ll pass…” 47 replied. He was hesitant to come into physical contact with this man anyways and yet their hands were still touching in a more and more intimate handshake. Not only that, his arm was suddenly pulled towards Smith and he found himself in his embrace. He froze in confusion.

For the first time in his entire life, he was so close to another man in a way very different from violence. He felt warmth coming from Smith’s body and the stench of sweat under the uniform.

“I was waiting for this moment,” Smith said. “And I want to make it last as long as I possibly can.”

His hands quickly untied 47’s tie and wrapped it around his own wrist. Then, his fingers started unbuttoning the bloodied shirt. 47 wasn’t sure how to react and it took him a few seconds to regain his composure.

“Stop that,” he ordered. But Smith didn’t comply, going further and further down his shirt. “Stop it.”

“Maybe freeing you wasn’t such a good idea after all…”

He pushed him away. The movement was so sudden, 47 stumbled and fell back on the chair. Smith approached him once again and grabbed him by the arms. 47 was shocked by this series of events. Soon enough, he was bound to this position once more as his hands were tied by his own red and gold tie. The ginger-haired man circled around him letting out an upbeat humming sound. He was more than happy to have tamed the world’s best assassin now entirely left to his disposal.

47 could now very clearly see the letters on Smith’s boxers. FCK standing for FC Kopenhagen. Considering how patriotic towards his home country the man usually was, this was a peculiar change.

“What do you plan on doing?” the assassin asked cautiously. He wasn’t sure anymore if Smith was really here to help him. Maybe he double crossed him? Maybe 47 let his guard down too quickly?

“Something I wanted to do for a long time now,” Smith replied. “You know how Diana always tells you to keep it clean? I’ll try to keep this in mind.”

His fingers returned to the task of unbuttoning 47’s shirt. Once that was done, he was also freed from his belt and the buttons and the zipper of his black pants. They slid down his legs. Now, both men were in their boxers, albeit still fairly clothed otherwise. But the movements did not stop there as Smith’s fingers went down under his boxers and removed them, revealing a long erect penis and a bush of fiery ginger-colored pubic hair.

47 gasped.

There was nobody to help him now. No Agency, no Diana. In his head, he was begging for this to be just a terrible nightmare. One sprung to his mind by the fever as he was still sitting in this very chair, hurt and bleeding. But it wasn’t meant to be…

“I was waiting for this moment,” Smith repeated in a hushed voice. “I love you.”

Their bodies met once again, yet this time it was with their lips. Smith slightly gaped open his and tried to force his tongue into 47’s mouth but the reaction wasn’t what he was expecting. The assassin’s knee knocked him away. The ginger-haired man tried again, rushing at 47, embracing his bald head and joining him in a passionate kiss. His persistence was staggering and that’s why 47 dropped his guard.

A slimy hunk of meat found his way into his mouth, paired with Smith’s hums. The initial grossness turned into a warm and quite intriguing experience. A one 47 never had before and he had to admit, he was starting to get more and more into this.

The kiss stopped. The saliva of both men mixed together and its last drops were now stuck to 47’s lips.

“That was just our first step,” he heard. “Relax. We’re gonna get there. Slowly but steady. Now, let’s get you off this chair at last.”

Still tied with his own tie, 47 was pulled from the chair and dropped down the cold floor. He was now kneeling. Suddenly, a hand was rested on his sore back. He pressed it, getting the assassin into a proper position before removing his underwear.

“Fuck, I guess I’m not really that creative,” he muttered. “Okay, deep breaths now. It’s not gonna be long.”

47’s buttocks spread but before learning what was the thing not lasting long, they both heard a loud noise coming from the outside of the room. The adrenaline hit both men and the long, snake-like penis of the ginger-haired man approached 47’s anus. The noises were getting louder and louder, drowning out what’s been happening in the room. But as they were getting closer and the movements got faster, the men both realized what the noises were and the realization shocked them.

Smith pulled out and began to get dressed in panic. 47 was left on the floor. This time, they needed weapons to battle what was coming.

The noises were gunshots. They were distracted by pistols.

 

And if you couldn’t tell, yes, this was an April Fools joke.

The Black Wall

I’ve been writing for as long as I remember.

Whether fiction or editorials, my life consists of writing. Pen, pencil, keyboard. You name it. I used to have a pen specifically for my pet project. A few years ago, I lost access to my PC, thus losing access to most of my writing in digital form. As you can imagine, it was quite a big deal. Now, having it back, I dug up the most interesting stories I could find and decided to post them here. Below is a short story, paired with very simple visuals, circa 2012.

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Part 7

HITMAN (or H6 as I’m used to calling it) does things differently. Very differently. In previous cases, we could simply go through the main story of each of the games and be fine with it. We could disregard anything that happened in the meantime, any lesser side stories told within the missions themselves. Here we could, arguably, still do that. It’s just that we would be missing most of what makes the game interesting. H6 takes pride in its environmental storytelling. Every mission is a separate story, which ultimately makes sense as every mission is a separate episode. They all link up in the end, however. They are all important in one way or another, so we do have to make sure to round up the side stories told during the missions themselves for it to make at least a tiny bit of sense. Keep in mind, there are tons of little details that don’t fit anywhere in the grander scale of things just yet. These may be random name drops or mentions of events that don’t link up to the overarching story. We will also be talking only about Season 1’s main episodes. No Elusive Targets, no Bonus Episodes, no Patient Zero. None of that business. Main story only. So let’s not dawdle anymore. If you’d come here to read my ramblings on the game itself, I’m sure you’d just click the HITMAN Opinion Pieces button instead.

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H6 throws most of Absolution out of the window – apparently it still happened but forget about the leftover plot holes, sequel baits and all of that other jazz. It’s irrelevant now. The main story takes place in 2019 and we start out in Paris. More precisely – Palais de Walewska – where there are some shady deals going on in the background of a prestigious fashion show. Viktor Novikov – originally a man of many talents, such as corporate espionage, arson, kidnapping and insurance fraud – bonds with Dalia Margolis to create IAGO – a spy ring using models as their cover agents. In addition, the duo blackmails a famous fashion designer to work with them and use it as a disguise to hold a secret auction. The goal is to exchange information, albeit not all is well in the World of Assassination.

Speaking of a world, the crowd consists of people from all around the globe. The invitations were sent out to folks like Prince Po or Sheik Salmon al-Ghazali. Generally people with power but not the best of intentions. That’s not very surprising as IAGO holds some impressive information. So impressive, in fact, that Viktor Novikov himself is sought out by a peculiar mysterious man who is willing to help him in exchange for the IAGO dossier. Help with what, you ask? Even though Novikov ran away from the past and settled to be protected by Margolis, he has more problems than he realizes. A case against him was set up by the FSB and the news was picked up by an editor for the “Showstopper” magazine. If that’s not enough, Dalia herself plots his assassination. Viktor agrees to give up the dossier to quietly get rid of some problematic people. Someone (whom I’m going to be calling Our Main Bad Guy from now on) is now in possession of truly powerful information…

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Our Main Bad Guy certainly looks unamused.

Other shady deals are definitely happening in the meantime. The MI6 themselves ask International Contract Agency to get rid of Viktor Novikov and Dalia Margolis, as they don’t want precious information leaking out to the world. Given the high security of Palais de Walewska (currently crawling with employees of a security company called CICADA), the task seems impossible at first. But not to Mr. 47 himself, who succeeds in eliminating both of his targets.

Our next stop is Italy and the ever beautiful tourist town of Sapienza. It’s not all as pretty as it looks on first glance, though, as beneath the great residence of the Carusos lies a secret underground lab. In it – a deadly virus is on its way, developed by a pharmaceutical corporation called Ether. Invisible and impossible to detect, the virus has potential. To add to the list of greatness, it can be encoded with its target’s DNA, spread across the globe and leave hosts unharmed until the DNA strikes a match. 47 is to eliminate Silvio Caruso – a stem cell researcher, the lead of the project and probably one of the best characterized targets in the entire series – and Francesca De Santis – a research scientist who’s working on the virus. The ICA also has an additional objective for our protagonist. Sneak into the lab and destroy the virus. Seems easy enough… It definitely is for the best assassin in the world. But what’s with up with Our Main Bad Guy?

One week after the hit, Ether is still wondering what happened at the lab. Our Main Bad Guy uses information ripped from IAGO’s hands to follow a certain fella (who we later learn is one of the “Heralds” – we will learn about them later) to an underground parking in Johannesburg. A few names are brought up: Cobb, Providence. Our Main Bad Guy achieves his goal, gets a key and then straight up kills its previous owner. Classy.

Across the world to Marrakesh where heavy riots currently take place! Claus Hugo Strandberg – the former CEO of Morocco’s private bank has been accused of investment fraud after a reporter revealed his criminal activities to the public. He’s currently residing in the Swedish Consulate after mercenaries freed him from transport. Involved in his escape and manipulating the entire situation is Reza Zaydan – a military general and author of fake propaganda. Their original plan was to evacuate Strandberg via an underground secret tunnel, which doesn’t mean much as he would be eliminated during his flight to Argentina. All of this orchestrated by who else but the mighty organization we’ve heard of before – Providence – whose Zaydan is a part of. Unfortunately for them, 47 gets to Strandberg first and kills him and the general, ruining the plans of them both.

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You tried so hard and got so far but in the end it doesn’t even matter.

In the meantime, it appears someone else was quite busy. Previously name dropped dude AKA Cobb was found dead and with it, a secret door was opened and the insides of some very important room were exposed! Apparently that’s what the key was for. Who knew?! Anyways, we now learn another name – Director Fanin – and that Providence is under attack. Who do we know it from? Some guy who doesn’t get a name for the entirety of Season 1 so we will call him a “stereotypical wannabe mysterious” syndrome dude. Yes, I need to give him some name, he will be important later…

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This image is information. On the wannabe mysterious syndrome dude guy’s face.

Oh hey, we’re now in Bangkok where Jordan Cross and his band are recording their next single. His father is a powerful figure who ends up dead a week later after being kidnapped during the funeral of his son… whoops! Spoilers! Jordan gets killed, too, albeit by Mr. 47 himself. Interestingly enough, his second target of the mission is Ken Morgan – an attorney not just to the Cross family but also a representative of such giants as Hamsun Oil, Kronstandt Technologies (we could hear about them back in Paris but there was no point in mentioning them) and Ether Corporation. After the hit, 47 and Diana meet up at the airport to talk about some secrets in public. The ICA found out that the shadow client (or Our Main Bad Guy) had his hands in their recent operations but no need to worry as the analysts are already on his tail. Damn, the Agency works fast!

And if you thought this piece is going pretty fast as well… Colorado is where a lot of information comes into play all at once. In fact, it was this mission which holds the most worldbuilding and attempts to tie everything we’ve just talked about. So hold on to your seats. This will be quite a ride.

The trails led the ICA to a remote farm in the USA. A one which, conveniently, is currently used as training grounds for a private militia. One of the people involved in said organization is Sean Rose – a radical activist and bombmaker, responsible for several terrorist attacks and Thomas Cross’ (Jordan’s father) kidnapping. That’s not the only thing the Agency analysts managed to find. They also came across traces of a 24-year-old hacker by the name of Olivia Hall, who is actively working with Our Main Bad Guy, as we can see during a later cutscene.

As the stakes get higher, so does the target count. Besides the aforementioned Sean Rose, 47 is also to eliminate Penelope Graves, Ezra Berg and Maya Parvati. You can totally forget about the last gal as she’s completely unimportant but the other folks show potential. For example, Penelope was brought up to the militia for being “best of the bests” but no one really knows if she really switched sides. After all, she used to lead a manhunt against Sean Rose before inexplicably joining him in his fight. In reality, she is working with the shadow client behind the scenes, asking difficult questions and trying to get close to Mr. Rose. She is familiar with IAGO, knows about Cobb’s death and met Olivia Hall herself before coming over to the farm.

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Sometimes the pieces write themselves!

But she isn’t the only one working with the shadow client! Ezra Berg is, too! In fact, he is holding a hostage. A man only referred to as “Herald”. From their little investigation, we deduce that Heralds are Providence messengers and key holders. Other terminology includes a “Constant” – the leader of the Heralds – and “Partners”. Apparently, Providence has their people on every IAGO auction to contain information they deem important. They stay in the shadows, don’t intervene, only coming out of hiding when absolutely necessary. Our Main Bad Guy’s role in all of this is to destroy them. He is working with a group of people to make this happen. He is the one behind the kidnapping of Thomas Cross, tracking and eliminating Cobb for his key and ransacking Providence’s vault. In addition to all of this, he uses the ICA to do his dirty work, stay anonymous and yet still have problematic people taken care of. What a sneaky guy! Just as sneaky as our man 47 who ends up killing all of the Colorado targets and getting access to a hidden room in one of the houses’ basement. The ICA now knows all of the previous hits were connected – the targets were all part of Providence. Also, they have a Providence mole right in the Board of Directors.

This is also the time to reveal another huge plot point. Our Main Bad Guy was eyeing 47 all along, going as far as to follow him to Colorado. He and Olivia Hall are exchanging observations throughout the phone call, and we learn the shadow client is actually one of 47’s “brothers” from back in Romania. Not just that, he and 47 were quite close during that time, and he claims he knows 47 “better than anyone”.

…what?

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Touching triggers, you mean.

Before moving on, let’s look at one more detail now that we know Cobb was one of the Heralds. Eugene Cobb was a bank director in New York and apparently quite a hot topic. He died in an airplane catastrophe and the black box has gone missing. This led to many assumptions, one of them being that his successor wanted him dead. What was the name of his successor, you ask? Fanin. Why is this important now? One of the targets in Hokkaido recommended him as Cobb’s successor. Who was that?

Yuki Yamazaki – a secret operative of Providence… in addition to being one of the best lawyers in Tokyo. She has ties with the yakuza – being their go-to attorney – and Masahiro Hayamoto (whom you might remember from Silent Assassin). There is another familiar name involved in all of this. Erich Soders. You see, our Prologue guy Soders ended up joining the ICA Board of Directors. But that wasn’t enough. He also became a mole for Providence as they offered him money to prolong his life. We learn that he suffers from a rare condition in which his internal organs are reversed. He now needs a heart transplant and, as you might imagine, right-sided heart donors are a tiny bit tough to come across. Providence arranged the best medical care by getting him all the way to Hokkaido, Japan, where a weird futuristic robot called KAI is going to perform the operation. To tie things up, it was built by Kronstadt Technologies. The company, as well as Ether are what is called a Partner to Providence. They are working on technologies not available worldwide which Providence wants to control and use for their limited purposes. They also want to get their hands on the Agency. Why? Multiple reasons, I assume. One of them of course being 47 and his connections with the shadow client. Speaking of the best guy the ICA has, he completes the hit on both Yuki and Soders and flees. In the meantime….

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Dun dun DUN! It’s the guy!

Remember the “stereotypical wannabe mysterious” syndrome dude? He’s back, too. He just “happens” to be on the same train as Diana Burnwood and he uses this opportunity to strike a deal with her. He offers her a job for his organization but she isn’t interested. After all, that would be making Soders’ mistake again. A mysterious photo brought by the wannabe mysterious dude might change her mind though.

Might?…

You’ll have to wait for Season 2 to find out!