Hitman Preview

Sly, Sneaky, and Bald, Baby.

Ever since Game Revolution failed in our last attempt to bump off Bruce Willis, we have been desperately searching for an adequate Assassin Simulator. You know - to safely hone our skills at clubbing, knifing, sneaking, sniping, etc. What respectable dot com doesn't have at least one guy who can be sent into the field to rub out anyone that mildly annoys the company? Luckily, every employee here at GR fits that description.

Yet Bruce Willis keeps eluding us. We need our assassins to be better, stronger, faster. Where's Oscar Goldman when you need him? Then again, we don't have 6 million dollars. Blast it!

The guys and girls over at Eidos Interactive must have some serious skeletons in the closet. Espionage and covert operations seem to be a growing trend with them this summer. This month they kicked off the conspiracy-driven action/adventure RPG Deus Ex(developed by Ion Storm). Later this Summer, Eidos plans to release the 3D action/adventure Hitman: Codename 47 (developed by Io Interactive). Could Hitman be GR's new Assassin Simulator of choice? If so, first we'll silence Bruce Willis...then it's on to Belgium.

Hitman: Codename 47 is set to pave new ground for 3D action shooters. With an all new 3D engine, Io Interactive has put together some of the most amazing graphics we've seen.

As the enigmatic Hitman you must use stealth and tactical problem-solving to enter, execute and exit your assignment while attracting the minimum of attention, but to the maximum effect. If there are witnesses to your crime, they may contact hotel security, which you would then have to contend with. If someone sees you walking down a hallway carrying an implement of death (knife, gun, piano wire, etc.), this too can cause problems. Confucius says: "Stealth is the key to fortune."

Your fee for each hit makes Donald Trump look like a charity case. But it really depends on how clever and sneaky you are. After each mission, a wetworks guy comes in to clean up your mess. This guy disposes of all the dead bodies, witnesses and careless bloodstains left by the hitman. Think of Harvey Keitell in the movie Pulp Fiction. The wetworks guy needs to be paid, and the more cleanup he has to do directly relates to how many zeros he'll find on his paycheck. Now guess where that money comes from? You got it, straight from yourpaycheck. Nothing is free - even in the virtual world of a hitman.

So it really behooves the player to be as stealthy as possible. Can you say "subterfuge," boys and girls? I knew you could.

Hitman: Codename 47 is chock full of cool features. Since you will be taking out terrorists and politicians all over the world (including China and the jungles of South America), it is often in your best interest to whip out your trusty piano wire, quickly strangle someone and snatch up some appropriate attire. You can then drag their lifeless body behind a garbage can or some other unsuspecting location. Nothing reeks of suspicion like a 6-foot tall bald white guy dressed in an all-black suit, wearing a pair of black leather gloves and sporting a nice barcode on the back of his head. Yeah right, like thatguy's a tourist.

Another interesting feature in Hitman is the use of money. Getting paid for hits is great, but what do you do with the cash? After you have earned enough loot you will have access to black-market weapons, traps, decoys and personnel. For instance, you can pay a waitress at a restaurant to spill a drink on one of the guys you need to rub out. This causes him to excuse himself from his table (and, most importantly, his guards) and go to the little boy's room to clean himself up. Now the player has a better opportunity to execute the hit. Tricky...tricky!

We received an early build of the game containing one full mission. About 95% of this mission takes place in a big, fancy-shmancy hotel. The level of detail put into this one locale is stunning. There has to be at least a hundred rooms, all fully furnished, not to mention a lobby, pool &sauna area, restaurant, florist, casino & bar, and even a dentist's office complete with X-Ray room. Quite impressive!

Our mission was to neutralize two terrorists (one of them being the dentist) who are staying at the hotel. We also needed to find a chemical bomb that was to be exchanged between these two terrorists. Sounds simple enough, right? Well, some jerk went and put metal detectors at every possible checkpoint and packed the hotel full of security personnel hopped up on an incredible AI system. All of a sudden our simple objectives were no longer such.

Despite the early build, it's quite obvious that this is a realistic game. I followed a bellboy into a room intent on strangling him and stealing his clothes. However, I missed him and he managed to exit the room - and lock the door from the outside, leaving me to sit on the bed twiddling my thumbs. Free hotel rooms are great, but not when the clock is ticking on a hit!

There will be no multi-player option in Hitman: Codename 47, although at E3 one of the developers did mention a unique type of "observer mode" that they were trying to implement. Players would be able to record their hits and send them to friends to watch via the Internet. Not quite as intriguing as a multi-player mode, but this option could truly inspire people to come up with some very well thought out ways of completing their hits.

The more I play it, the more I think that Hitman: Codename 47 could be Game Revolution's new Assassin Simulator of choice. We will know for sure when it ships in January 2001. Now I just have to figure out how to get my girlfriend off the darn thing so I can play. Well, maybe it's not that much of a problem. Female assassins are kind of sexy...