Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Hitman (computer game)
Hitman is a video game franchise available on most formats. It revolves around 47, a genetically engineered assassin for hire, whose skills place him in high demand for jobs. The games have a considerable amount of violence and are rated Mature by the ESRB.
The games were developed by Danish developer IO Interactive, now a division of Eidos. Three games have been released in the series: Hitman: Codename 47 (2000), Hitman 2: Silent Assassin (2002), and Hitman: Contracts (2004). A fourth installment, titled Hitman: Blood Money, has been announced for a spring 2005 release.
Hitman could playwise be described as an intermediate between Thief and Max Payne, having a control system similar to Max Payne (although the first Hitman game was released earlier) and the stealth element from Thief. In Hitman, the player usually has more than one way to solve the missions. However, a straightforward attack with an assault rifle will usually get the player killed except on the easiest difficulty settings. The game encourages player to think about quiet ways of killing the target person. Normal guards and policemen will usually let 47 walk around in his suit at will unless he pulls a gun. Bigger guns, like shotguns, cannot be hidden at all if carried. In many missions 47 will have to get a disguise. This happens by drugging or killing some innocent driver, guard, chef or delivery boy and snatching their clothes. Although 47 is supposed to be a cold-blooded killer, the game encourages players to kill only when necessary and penalizes whenever innocent bystanders or police officers are killed. In fact, the anti-social 47 often accomplishes the same results as much more "patriotic" killers such as in Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon or Splinter Cell, with significantly less bloodshed and commotion.
Weapons featured include the trademark Hardballers (custom Colt 1911 .45ACP pistols), silenced Beretta pistol, fiber wire used to strangle victims, and variety of submachine guns, sniper rifles, assault rifles, machineguns as well as knives, golf clubs and other more exotic weapons.
The character of the Hitman may be at least partially inspired by the villain Necros from the James Bond film The Living Daylights. Like 47, Necros was a Hitman with a fondness for disguises and garotting his victims. His most memorable moment was when he infiltrates an MI6 safehouse disguised as a milkman (having killed the real milkman), then proceeds to dispatch the MI6 agents using milk bottle bombs.
The gameplay revolves heavily around disguises, which 47 uses to fool enemies and gain access to restricted areas. Unlike other stealth games like Thief or Splinter Cell, the focus of the Hitman series isn't hiding in the shadows from the enemy, but rather blending in amongst them (although sneaking behind guards and avoiding patrols becomes more prevalent in the gameplay of later games in the series).
The Hitman is not particularly manueverable; he cannot jump at all, let alone scale walls or mantle up ledges (there are a couple pre-scripted places where he can jump from one balcony to another, but these are rare). This generally limits the Hitman to a single plane of movement, although he is often presented the opportunity to move to higher or lower areas through the use of ladders, stairs, or hills.
In terms of action, the Hitman series runs a middle ground between pure shooters such as Quake or Doom and stealth games such as Thief or Splinter Cell. Unlike most stealth game protagonists, 47 can survive considerable damage before dying. Combined with the game's impressive arsenal, this allows for some high-action firefights. At the same time, you are unable to heal your health in the middle of a level, which tends to encourage the player to avoid as much damage as possible (especially in later levels, where enemies begin carrying high-powered weapons such as shotguns or sniper rifles that can kill you in one or two hits).
The game also maintains a "realistic" atmosphere in terms of the abilities of you and your enemies. The genetically engineered Hitman can survive a couple dozen bullets to the chest, but a single sniper rifle shot to the head or a couple of shotgun blasts will quickly kill him. Almost all of the game's enemies die after only 2 or 3 pistol bullets, and even heavily armored SWAT troopers die after 5 or 6 shots. Sometimes, at the end of the game, the player will encounter a special "boss" character who, like the Hitman, can survive a few dozen pistol shots to the chest, but even these special foes die in seconds from headshots or automatic rifle fire (most can also be strangled, poisoned, or sniped without a fight).
Hitman: Codename 47
Published in 2000.
The Hitman, Mr. 47, wakes up strapped to a sparse bed in a padded room, dressed like a mental patient. A disembodied voice over a PA loudspeaker releases him and sends him through a series of obstacle courses where he is instructed in firearms and murder techniques. 47 is eventually led to a pair of guards, whom he murders in order to escape captivity. A few years later, we rejoin 47 as a professional assassin in the employ of the International Contract Agency. 47 is sent around the globe on a series of mission to eliminate 4 global criminal masterminds, all while trying to unravel the secret behind his origin.
The first game in the series. Unlike most games where the player is thrust into a hostile world and must kill to survive, Hitman: Codename 47 mostly takes place in neutral environments such as hotels, restaurants, or city streets, and the impetus is on 47 to initiate the violence. On a technological note, Hitman: Codename 47 was the first game to use the now popular ragdoll physics.
Compared to later games in the series, Hitman: Codename 47's gameplay is more simplistic. There is no "suspicion" meter, so guards will always leave 47 alone as long as he's wearing the right disguise and not waving a weapon around. This is true regardless of your behavior, whether you're running around, dancing on the furniture, or breathing down their necks in preparation for a quick strangulation from behind.
Unlike later games in the series, violence is mandatory and there are several levels where getting into a massive shootout against dozens of guards is inevitable. This is particularly true concerning a level that takes place in the Columbian jungle where you battle South American drug soldiers, a level criticized by many players as being inconsistent with the "stealthy" tone of the game. The final battle, a deathmatch-style showdown against a "respawning" opponent who moves and fights like a Quake bot, is a particularly large departure from the game's stealth gameplay.
Despite being generally praised for its novel gameplay and good graphics, the game was heavily criticized for having an overly complicated control scheme. The menu system used to manipulate objects in the world was criticized as being unintuitive and difficult to control. Additional, the control scheme deviated from the standard FPS control formula, including separate keys for walking forward and running forward, as well as a button that toggled your aim from a standard mouse-look to a practically useless aiming mode where you moved the cursor around the screen without affecting 47's movement. Finally, the inability to save within a mission was a major point of complaint, especially since PC gamers are generally used to being able to save anywhere they want.
Hitman 2: Silent Assassin
Published in 2002.
After learning all about his dark past and unnatural conception at the end of Hitman: Codename 47, Mr. 47 seeks refuge in a monastery in Sicily, attempting to put his murderous past behind him and begin a new life as a simple church gardener. Unfortunately, 47 is brought out of his soul-searching retirement when his host and friend Father Vittorio is kidnapped by the Mafia. 47 attacks their fortified mansion in an attempt to rescue him, only to find the priest has already been spirited away by Russian thugs. The Agency who gave him info on the Mafia want a job in return. Soon 47 is once again performing hits for money, initially to fiance the search for Father Vittorio, but eventually simply because he's fallen back into old habits. As in the previous game, the hits form an overall pattern, as a single influential client sends 47 across the world on the trail of components of a Nuclear Weapons System.
Hitman 2 was a significant step forward in terms of the series' gameplay. Many of the criticisms of the original game were addressed in the sequel. The control scheme has been streamlined to be more along the lines of a standard FPS game. In fact, an optional first person perspective was added for those who want to play the game as a straight shooter. The stealth element was also improved with the addition of a "suspicion meter" that showed enemies become increasingly suspicious of 47 based on his behavior (such as running indoors, carrying a weapon, or trying to sneak up behind their backs), causing them to attack him when the meter went high enough. Hitman 2 also introduced the "Silent Assassin" system, in which the player is given a different rank based on the way he plays the game. A highly aggressive, non-stealthy player who kills everyone on the map will be branded a Mass Murderer, while a stealthy player who manages to complete a level without being noticed and only killing the intended target will be rewarded with the highest rank, Silent Assassin.
Despite the general consensus among critics and players that the game was significantly improved over the original, some points of contention remained. Many players complained that the new suspicion system was too sensitive, as guards would often open fire on you for little things like running indoors. Additionally, some features from the original game, such as reflective surfaces and physics that allowed bodies to float in water, had apparently been removed to allow the engine to run well on a console system.
The game caused controversy on its release due to a level featuring the killing of Sikhs within a depiction of their most holy site, the Golden Temple. After a campaign by international Sikh groups for the game's recall, Eidos announced that it would modify any subsequent releases of the game to remove the offending elements.
Published in 2004.
The hunter has become the hunted, as 47 is seriously wounded by one of his own targets, who seemed to have been expecting him. Taking refuge in a nearby apartment, 47 drifts in and out of consciousness as an army of heavily armed SWAT units converge around the apartment complex. In his stupor, 47 is bombarded with hallucinary flashbacks to previous assignments. These flashbacks to the past make up 11 of the game's 12 missions, with the 12th and final mission involving a newly motivated 47 attempting to escape from his predicament.
Unlike the first two games in the series, there is no over-arching plot tying the missions together. Instead, the game is a series of independent missions. Hitman: Contracts is about 50% new content, and 50% "remixes" of old missions from the original Hitman: Codename 47 redesigned for the new gameplay style. Almost all of the major missions from Hitman: Codename 47 have been re-made and included in Contracts. Essentially, Contracts appears to be a way to give console gamers a way to play most of the content from the original, PC-only game. The presentation is also considerably darker than the previous 2 games, most levels take place at night or in the rain and even indoors the environments are dimly-lit and dreary.
In many ways, Contracts is akin to Hitman 2.5. The general gameplay is more or less the same as Hitman 2, but minor tweaks and improvements have been made in response to complaints about Hitman 2. The "suspicion" meter is less twitchy and unpredictable than it use to be, enemies generally won't see through your disguise unless you stand right next to them for several seconds or enter a restricted area, and will no longer start shooting at you for little things like running indoors or brushing past them. The graphics have also been polished and improved somewhat (although the engine is still clearly the same).
Hitman: Blood Money
Not yet released.
Major or re-occurring characters
- Mr. 47: A genetically engineered assassin created from the combined DNA of five of the world's most dangerous criminal masterminds. A tall, bald, no-nonsense individual, who prefers a well-tailored suit and tie and who has a barcode stamped to the back of his head. Tailored from conception to be a ruthless killing machine, 47's strength, speed, and stamina are significantly above the human norm, and he possesses a single-minded, cunning intellect. Raised in the sterile environment of the labratory and trained in the fine arts of infilitration and execution, 47 gravitated towards the profession of Hitman upon his release into the real world, joining and eventually becoming the top assassin in the International Contract Agency. Yet, in spite of his creator's best efforts, 47 still possesses a fierce individuality and the spark of a conscience, a fact which greatly vexes his creator. Although he's usually cold and to the point in his dealings with others, 47 can at times be quite introspective, especially when he's contemplating his own existence. He has no qualms and will kill anyone for money (from corrupt crime lords, to unfortunate opera singers, to a Senator from Oklahoma), but takes a certain professional pride in not creating any collateral damage, and has demonstrated a degree of mercy towards those not on his kill list (for example, in Hitman:Contracts, 47 knocks out a butcher with the blunt end of a meat hook, rather than cutting out his throat with the sharp tip).
- Diana: 47's controller at the Agency. Diana gives 47 his assignments, briefs him on his missions, and occasionally serves as his guide over the radio. 47 has never actually seen Diana face-to-face, and is familiar only with her voice. She appears to have a serious, business-like demeanor, as well as a British accent.
- Dr. Ort-Meyer: 47's creator and the ultimate villain of Hitman: Codename 47. A brilliant and dangerous individual. Expelled from the scientific community for his radical theories on genetic manipulation, Ort-Meyer has spent almost half a century combining and manipulating DNA in an effort to create an army of perfect super-soldiers. He was responsible for raising and indoctrinating 47 at his Asylum, where 47 was kept as a virtual prisoner for most of his life. Ort-Meyer eventually engineered 47's "escape" from the Asylum in order to test his performance in the real world. The consummate megalomaniac, Ort-Meyer used his powerful hold over the Agency to manipulate 47 into killing the other 4 masterminds behind the Hitman Project, so that Ort-Meyer could have the fruits of his labor all to himself. Ort-Meyer then attempted to have 47 himself eliminated, having perfected Mr. 48, an improved, mindlessly loyal series of clones. Ort-Meyer underestimated 47's abilities, and 47 eliminated the Mr. 48s and Ort-Meyer himself.
- Agent Smith: A fairly inept American secret agent with ties to the CIA and the Agency. He has a tendency to be captured and tortured by the very people he's assigned to spy on. As a result, the Agency has sent 47 to rescue him on a number of occasions. His torture experiences have caused him to take up drinking on the job, making him even more ineffective. To be fair, we can assume he's at least partially responsible for all the useful intelligence 47 receives from the Agency about his targets. Like 47, Agent Smith dons a variety of disguises, but most often he's seen beaten and stripped down to his American Flag underwear. He seems to regard 47 as a friend, no doubt because 47 has rescued him so many times. For 47, the feeling is not mutual.
- Mei-Ling: A young woman from the Chinese mainland abducted and recruited into the brothel of Hong Kong crimelord Lee Hong. 47 rescues her in exchange for information about her employer in preparation for assassinating him. After escaping from Lee Hong, Mei-Ling ends up hooking up with Hayamoto, yet another Asian crime lord, and 47 ends up rescuing her again (much to his consternation). Mei-Ling is apparently the only woman 47 has ever kissed, an experience 47 did not seem to enjoy (47's conditioning apparently includes a strong disinterest in women in general).
- Sergei Zavorotko: The central villain of Hitman 2: Silent Assassin. An influential Russian crime lord and arms dealer specializing in the transport of chemical, biological, and even nuclear weapons. Sergei is the employer and older brother of Boris, one of 47's five "fathers", although he is much more powerful than Boris ever was. Sergei brought 47 out of retirement by arranging for the kidnapping of 47's friend Father Vittorio, then anonymously arranged through the Agency for 47 to perform a series of hits on his business partners. The hits were merely a diversion, however, and in reality Sergei was using 47 to assemble the parts of a Nuclear Missile System capable of penetrating the American Missile Shield, a system Sergei planned to sell to a wealthy Sikh doomsday cult for a considerable sum of money. Like 47, Sergei has incredible strength and durability, capable of smashing through wood walls and surviving a few dozen bullets to the chest. He's no superhuman, though, and dies after a single headshot or 3-4 shotgun blasts. He's very tempermental and often peppers his speech with Russian profanities. He also always carries around a large SPAS-12 shotgun.
- Mystery Man: A mysterious man in a black suit. Seen in Hitman 2: Silent Assassin as an advisor to Sergei, he is the one who brings Mr. 47 to the attention of Sergei. Ultimately, he convinces Sergei to put out a hit on 47, leading to 47 learning about and killing Sergei. A couple of cutscenes towards the end of the game suggest he is really manipulating Sergei for a higher power. May be related to the 'Rival Agency' in Hitman: Blood Money. Nicknamed 'G-Man', after the character from Half-Life.
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