Sitting back and taking a moment to soak in all the glory of a game just isn’t something that typically crosses my brain to do. I don’t just play games; I tend to burn through them. I mean with over 90 games played last year alone and over 80 the year before, what choice do I really have? Sure, I may take time to do a ton of side quests if it’s a particularly enjoyable game, but I have one goal above all else – to beat the game as quickly as possibly so I can move on to the next in my infinitely expanding backlog. On occasion I even find myself getting stressed out or angry when a game is taking longer than How Long to Beat tells me it should. Clearly, this isn’t the best way to approach my main relaxing activity, and I know this will only get worse with a second child on the way and my first beginning to rebel against the notion of frequent napping. That’s why I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed it when Hitman 3 made me take a minute and slow things down.
The story starts with a bit of folly on my part. Having refused to do the tutorial because, like I mentioned, expediting the completion of a game is the most important thing to my gaming habits, I spent the first 3 levels of the conclusion to Agent 47’s modern trilogy not knowing there was a button to run. Instead, my 47 methodically moved from story point to story point and contract to contract, scanning every inch of his surroundings like a Terminator seeking out the next random object that just might prove useful to eliminate a target in a pinch. Perhaps it would be an icicle or a banana, or maybe there was some promisingly set trap that could be sprung with a properly utilized screwdriver. Despite my expansive trappings, I found myself enjoying this approach so much that I made it a central feature of who my character was. Every now and then I might cheat and run if there was a long open path, but anything beyond a brisk walk was strictly forbidden if even a single NPC was present, as I had to exude coolness and calm to any potential eyewitnesses. Agent 47 would get there when he needed to, and no one could make him do otherwise.
All around you in the world of Hitman there are tons of little bits of backstory or secrets to uncover if you just take the time to stop and listen. Some of the most fun I had in the game was a direct result of pausing to learn more about what was going on instead of immediately blasting my way to the target. This is perhaps best exemplified by the game’s magnificent Knives Out style murder mystery second mission, Death in the Family. There are likely dozens of ways to take out the matriarch of a powerful, corrupt family, but the most rewarding one comes by first posing as a private investigator and helping solve the mystery surrounding the apparent suicide of one of the elderly family members, which just seems a little bit fishy. The entire time I knew my target was often feet away in the mansion and could be taken out at any point, but instead, here I was climbing drain pipes, sneaking into rooms, uncovering clues, and confirming every family member’s alibi before informing the doomed matriarch of my findings and eventually closing both the murder mystery case and my contract on her.
The entire game is filled with wonderful moments of discover and the chance to experiment. Even while carrying out my contracts, I found myself analyzing the environment and coming up with ways that I’d approach the scenario differently the next time I came through. Yep, I will indeed be coming through again instead of moving on. Thanks to some nice upgrades, you can play the first two games in the trilogy inside of the chaos engine of Hitman 3, as well, so, now that I’ve concluded the campaign, I plan to go through the other two games until I come up with a list of my favorite levels that I want to play over and over again to master and uncover the best ways to piece together this Rube Goldberg assassination machine. Maybe I’ll even take it slow and do so throughout the course of the year instead of powering through it all at once, so I can move on. Maybe, I’ll be able to keep suppressing my usual gaming behaviors and just keep enjoying that slow, methodical walk of Agent 47. Maybe…