I’ll never forget the first time I was introduced to Agent 47. I had just received my copy of The Official PlayStation Magazine with its monthly disc packed with previews and game demos. There on the disc was a demo for a game titled Hitman 2: Silent Assassin. I saw the stylishly dressed bald guy dual-wielding a pair of hand cannons and I was immediately intrigued. The prospect of sneaking in to a highly guarded mansion, taking down a mob boss while rescuing a priest had me giddy with excitement.
Then I tried to play the demo.
Emphasis on “tried.” It was a total mess. The controls were not only WAY more complex than anything I was use to playing, the AI was absolutely brutal. I knew right away that I was in way over my head and that there was absolutely no way I was getting over the learning curve. I ejected the disc and went on to other things.
Or at least I attempted to.
The fact was that even though I was terrible at the demo, I found the concept fascinating. This was the character I had been waiting to play for a long time. So I went back, and I was still terrible. But I went back again and this time, even though I was still terrible, I actually made it into the kitchen disguised as a delivery guy. Then, I promptly took 2 steps in the wrong direction and all hell broke loose. This scenario played out dozens of times and each time I got just the tiniest bit better. Long before the first time I made it through the level with the coveted Silent Assassin ranking I was hooked, and I knew that this was a series I would follow for as long as it was around.
Fast forward 10 years to the first release of info on the fifth game in the series. I couldn’t be more excited. Finally! A Hitman game on “next-gen” consoles.
Then I watched the trailer.
This is NOT Hitman! It’s way too action heavy! Instinct mode? Are you joking? This looks like Splinter Cell: Conviction (which I enjoyed, but it wasn’t Hitman). I/O Interactive, you broke my heart. I suffered waiting through not one, but TWO, garbage Kane & Lynch games. And for what? For you to rip the very soul out of the franchise that I love? For you to bastardise a series so you can dumb it down for the masses of mouth-breathing Call of Duty “bro” gamers? To hell with this, I quit.
Or at least I attempted to.
I’d obviously been betrayed along with all the rest of the die-hard fans, but I just couldn’t believe it. I searched every article I could find in hopes that I was wrong, but everything I read just sounded like the devs doing a song and dance to distract us from the atrocities they had committed against their fans. I had all but given up hope and written the game off. Then a friend told me about a sniper challenge mini-game that you could download if you pre-ordered the game. I figured “Why not?” I’d pre-order the game to get the code and then go back and then move the money to Borderlands 2.
Then I played it.
I figured that I’d try it once and then maybe watch some tv. Two and a half hours later, I had to force myself to go to bed. The Agent 47 that I hadn’t seen since 2006 was back and better than ever. The defining moment came when I shot an elevator control box to open the doors and then made a member of the main target’s security force disappear down the elevator shaft. After dozens of replays I finally achieved Silent Assassin rank, but with the addition of a friends leaderboard, Silent Assassin is just the beginning.
I know that the latest trailer has sparked plenty of uproar, and people are jumping to all kinds of conclusions and continuing to rage about “the absence of stealth” and “too much action” but now I just shake my head and smile. I’m confident that when the game launches it will be the naysayers, and not the devs, who will be seeking “Absolution.”