PC Gamer

The first couple minutes of Hitman: Agent 47 are pretty much a video game cutscene, with grainy video and voiceover talking about secret and bad human research. The segment s purpose is to explain, Hey, this is a video game movie, and it s about genetically modified hitmen, and you re just going to have to deal with that. It s cool if you re late to the movie, though, because they explain all this in the clearest terms possible again about halfway through.

But who cares about the story? I watched Hitman: Agent 47 to judge whether or not Agent 47 is a good hitman. A good hitman, at least in the Hitman games, is one who succeeds at killing his targets with as few witnesses as possible, ideally without killing anyone but the targets. Sure, you can go nuts if you want, but stealth is encouraged, so that s the standard I m holding the movie version of Agent 47 to. With that in mind, I've graded his performance in the film's major action scenes. He did badly, as you'll see. 

Obviously, reading about every action scene in a movie is going to lead to some spoilers, if you care.

Nighttime fight

As the movie starts, Agent 47 is out to get some bad guys, and you better believe he s gonna get them. First off, why can no one in the film industry design a UI that anyone would actually use? Agent 47 literally presses a button that says upload virus at one point. Then he tracks the bad guy cars with the Watch Dogs companion app while they all fumble with their infected, also stupid interfaces.

Pretty quickly, it s clear that our friend 47 is doing a bad job. He kills so many dudes he doesn't have to. He even shoots two guys sitting at bad-UI computer terminals and then props them up as if they re still working just so the other bad guys will get mad at them for not responding, discover that they re dead, and then see him emerge from the shadows. That s just rude as hell, and not very sneaky at all. F.

"Hm, looks good, looks good, can we get thirty more red squares though?"

Subway fight

This showdown is set up when the camera pans through the ground, letting the audience know that subways are underground, as Agent 47 chases Zachary Quinto. So, Agent 47 and Zachary Quinto (who I ve decided is a character in the film for simplicity s sake) are fighting in a subway station, on the tracks, and the camera is shaking big time. We know martial arts, they yell into each other s faces at the same time, but they don t really. They just know how to work with direction that obscures the details of a bad fight.

There is a cool bit where Agent 47 almost, but doesn t, get killed by an oncoming train—remember that, from The Matrix?—but as a hitman he does very badly. Everyone in the subway station sees him. He shoots bullets into all kinds of crowds. There s no way he isn t being chased by law enforcement. F.

Mass panic doesn't typically indicate a stealthy approach. 

Military fight

Next there s a part where Agent 47 walks into a heavily guarded military complex covered with guns. The metal detector and X-ray scanner detect all of these, another thing that happened in The Matrix, but instead of killing all the guards with sick moves, he lets himself get captured so that he can use his sick moves on everyone later. Getting captured is not a good hitman thing to do, even if you plan to escape later, but especially if you plan to escape later by loudly shooting people. F.

Look at my guns, I have many.

Jet engine fight

This is a prolonged fight involving a jet engine, and it isn t bad. Some dudes even get sucked into the jet engine, which almost approaches the creativity you'd see in an actual Hitman mission. And Agent 47 is a little stealthy here, sneaking up behind people and killing them with stuff he finds lying around, which shows improvisation and stealthiness. Still, he almost dies and is only saved by the villain s fatal flaw: pride. You can t always count on a villain to have a fatal flaw, 47. Sometimes they re just regular guys. D+.

This is a little bit sneaky!

Audi RS 7 chase

This is the best scene because it stars an Audi RS 7 drifting around the bends of a parking garage and killing the hell out of a bunch of motorcycle jerks chasing it. I guess Agent 47 is driving it, but let's just pretend the Audi is its own character with its own motivation.

I really felt the Audi s pain when it was being shot full of cables from rooftop bad guys, who held it in place with their evil grapples, and then tried to zipline down the cables to kill Agent 47. No one mourns the Audi, but I suppose they don't have time what with bad guys coming from every direction. It turns out, those zipline guys made a bad mistake. They could have just shot at Agent 47 from the relative safety of the rooftops, but instead they get all plugged by his dual handguns while slowly descending. This happens in the middle of the street. Everyone sees it and Agent 47 is not stealthy at all. Also, he picks up Hannah Ware and carries her through streets full of people and no one cares and that's dumb. F.

Holding one gun is hard enough, two is just impossible!

Skyscraper fight

This is a cool scene, because it involves helicopters and the roof of a skyscraper—you might say that the final gunshot was an exclamation mark—and Hannah Ware finally becomes the badass she secretly was the whole time. It s also the most visually arresting scene, with 47 s white shirt losing its edges against the impossibly white walls of an evil office building, which was the signature technique of one of my favorite American illustrators, Coles Phillips. Meanwhile, most of the rest of the movie oozes with all style of stock art: Bald man uses laptop. Depressed woman s empty pill bottle rolls across the floor. Establishing shot of car.

Anyway, it s fun to look at, but is Agent 47 finally a good hitman here, at the end? No way. He comes up with a convoluted plan to hit his man, sure, but everyone is looking at him like, I know who you are, you are a hitman, and I have seen your face. That s just not good hitman work. F.

None of this is very sneaky at all.

So, is it a good movie?

Not really. I ve tried not to spoil the details of the plot because the only thing it has going for it is a couple misdirections. Other than that, it s pretty boring. Turns out an emotionless dude with a moderately close head shave is not very exciting to watch any time he s not shooting people.

Zachary Quinto is also boring, and doesn t convince me that he is a tough man, though he tries. Hannah Ware plays the best of the characters, because she s allowed to express feelings with her face, but the story doesn t let her be much more than a human MacGuffin. She appears at the beginning in a movie-ready state: a woman whose only defining qualities are plot points, like Lisbeth Salander if all we knew about her was that she has a dragon tattoo, and that the tattoo is a treasure map.

And that d all be fine if Agent 47 had James Bond or John Wick or The Raid levels of style and choreography, but it only timidly approaches those films to ask if it can borrow some of their stuff, and then breaks their stuff. Daniel Craig s contemplative rooftop swim in Skyfall, for instance, said a little about his headspace, and was a damn cool establishing scene. In this movie, Ware takes a nighttime dip in a hotel pool for no reason. I guess she s swimming because she s… upset… about the hitman?

This important scene establishes that the hotel has a swimming pool.

Meanwhile, even with John Wick's David Leitch on staff, the action is good but never exceptional. Hitman is so concerned with making sure its characters look badass that it s often cut like a trailer, obscuring the greater form of the fights, and the complete windup and follow-through of each movement. The Matrix, on the other hand, shows us the full breadth of every dumb flip, kick, punch, block, and grimace in that subway scene. It s silly, and not really convincing, but it's still a wonder to watch all that continuous action and reaction. In Equilibrium, Christian Bale looks super dumb doing gunkata forms, but he doesn t give a crap, and not giving a crap is what makes him so cool. There's no attempt to obscure his choreography, allowing the action to be unreal and goofy and way more fun to watch.

There is some cool action choreography in Hitman, for sure, and I spotted not one but two helicopters in it, but that s all it has to offer. Helicopters, a good car chase, and a bit of good gunplay. Otherwise, the sentimental bits are entirely inert, the plot consists of cutscenes I'd skip in a game, and rather than being cool and effortlessly badass, Agent 47 seems like a self-conscious Bond impersonator. Check it out, guys, I just got out of this big fight, and what do I do? I just casually adjust my sleeve. Is that cool? It was cool when Bond did it but is it cool when I do it? Ah, it's cool, yep. I'm cool.

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Graham Smith)

Alice is on holiday, leaving it to me to ask us and you that timeless question: whatcha playin’ there buddy?

… [visit site to read more]

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Adam Smith)

I find his trigger finger terrifying

Absolution might be a fitting tag for what looks like a return to form and a casting off of the sins of the past, but since that subtitle’s already taken, I’m hoping I’ll be able to justify referring to this one as Hitman: Redemption [official site]. So far, the signs are good. I spent some time in the company of IO Interactive’s studio head, Hannes Seifert, as he played through a mission set at a Paris fashion show. As he manipulated NPCs behaviour and demonstrated some emergent possibilities, Seifert said all the right things about recovering the best of the series’ past. The game – this portion of it at least – backs him up convincingly. It’s looking good.>

… [visit site to read more]

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alec Meer)

Minute Assassin

We have Opinions about Absolution, the most recent Hitman game, ’round these parts. Opinions which not everybody shares, but everybody should because famously we’re always 100% Objectively Correct in all things. Despite some grasping at greatness, it seemed a disservice to Hitman as we knew it. Meanwhile, in Mobileland, whispers spread that there was, in fact, a pretty great latter-day Hitman. Its name was Hitman GO, it looked lovely>, and it was a sort of stealth-themed sliding block puzzle which looked like a miniatures wargame. Though mechanically very different to any Hitman game, as I understand it Go nonethless conjures up a lot of their spirit – perhaps more so than 2012’s Absolution was. It was also acclaimed as something of an original. Sadly, it was banished to portables. Until now: suddenly, it’s on PC. There is, alas, a catch. … [visit site to read more]

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Shaun Green)

Although winners have yet to be announced in the recent Make Arma Not War competition, the judges have published the shortlisted finalists. As a result a series of levels inspired by Hitman: Blood Money – far and away the best game in the Hitman series – have been brought to our attention. You can download ‘em over here.

There are eight Arma III [official site] levels in all, each inspired by one of Blood Money’s intricate scenarios. … [visit site to read more]

PC Gamer

I love Hitman: Blood Money. It's a game that gives you the freedom to come up with your own plan, it provides real satisfaction when your plan goes off without a hitch, and perhaps most importantly, it can turn into a mad, deliriously fun scramble when your plan completely falls apart. As  Phil pointed out earlier, you can now relive some of that fun in this series of Hitman-inspired Arma 3 scenarios by modder Helios.

There are a number of missions to choose from and many will feel immediately familiar to Hitman players. A father and son are hosting a gathering at a heavily guarded manor, and you've got to take both of them out separately. There's a opera being performed, and your target is one of the singers. A drug lord is throwing a party, and you're there to clip him, along with the guest of honor, if possible, while ducking members of his gang.

Got my target, got my poison. What am I forgetting? Oh yeah. Dozens of witnesses.

A lot of Agent 47's standard tricks are incorporated. You can steal people's clothing and wear it yourself, allowing you access to restricted areas, though the guards in the mod are pretty quick to sniff you out if walk too close to them, even disguised. You have a poison syringe you can use to quickly and quietly snuff one of your targets if you don't want to risk a shot with a silenced pistol. There are also things like weapons drops and uniform crates shown on your map, if you can manage to slip away and remain unnoticed until you reach them. And, of course, you can hide bodies.

Just gonna borrow your clothes and bury you under the concrete if that's cool.

Most importantly, these are freeform missions. Kill your target however you want, then escape to an extraction point. You start out in a safe area, usually filled with other, less-murderous guests, which gives you time to look around for your targets (they're marked by name on your screen), scope out the surrounding area and position of the guards, and find some way to slip away without causing too much suspicion. You may be able to switch off the power, giving you some additional stealth during night missions.

Man. I see soooooo many different ways to fail this mission.

As you can probably guess, blowing your cover doesn't quite lead to the madcap chases and fights you're used to in Hitman, because Arma 3 is much less forgiving in terms of bullets tearing into flesh. There won't be a long, frantic gunfight that slowly spins Agent 47 to the ground in slow motion. Get spotted and you'll get shot, get shot and your mission is most likely over right then and there.

Dang it! I knew I shouldn't have disguised myself as a hitman.

As difficult as they are, it's still a lot of fun to play these missions inside Arma 3, and they've been recreated very faithfully. Even as bad as I am at both Hitman and Arma 3, I did manage to take out my target in the opera mission and escape to the extraction zone, though it took more than a few tries.

Best of all, you can play these missions co-op with a friend. You can subscribe individually to these missions on the Steam workshop, and you'll find them listed in the 'Scenarios' section when you launch the game.

PC Gamer


In Why I Love, PC Gamer writers pick an aspect of PC gaming that they love and write about why it's brilliant. Today, stealthing around ships. We don't know why all the best stealth levels are set on boats, but they are.

Due to the popularity of military shooters, the ship level has become clich . It's the genre's lava level. Inevitably, it has a TV Tropes page.

I don't care. I love them. Specifically, I love them in stealth games, where they act as a setting, rather than a set piece. That bit where you're running through a semi-cinematic disaster movie, an invisible trigger sending the next wave of flooding water crashing through a door? I'm not a fan, thanks Tomb Raider. Scripting robs the setting of that sense of separation from the outside world; the idea of a small, confined, claustrophobic space with no escape and no backup. Not just for me, but for them—the guards.

Deus Ex: Human Revolution's Missing Link DLC opens on a ship, and it's one my favourite sections of the game. There is a very functional design philosophy to a big floating boat that sits at odds with the game's stylised futurism. In the open cities and sprawling office complexes, Deus Ex could lace its environments with high-tech design. The ship is just a ship. The scale is different—narrower, more linear. It's filled with plain, metallic walls. The doors are bulky slabs of mass. It feels solid. Real. 

See also: the original Deus Ex, or Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory. These levels stand apart as standalone vignettes contained with the overall flow of their respective campaigns.

It's pure coincidence that I'm writing this on the week of Alien: Isolation's release, but it's fitting. That is, to all intents and purposes, a stealth game set on a ship. But it occupies a different mental space than what I'm talking about here. In many ways it's the opposite. The film Alien is about a crew trapped in an inescapable place with a unstoppable killer. It is a film about being hunted. But take the opening Tanker chapter of Metal Gear Solid 2—it flips the concept. Your enemies are the ones trapped in an inescapable space, and you are the unstoppable killer.

I was about 17 when the Metal Gear Solid 2 demo came out. It was around the same time I was discovering horror films. The demo—containing the first section of the Tanker prologue—felt like a powerful, cathartic inversion to the stories I was watching. It manifested as a fascination with toying with the guards. First, I'd shoot out their radio, disabling communication with the ship at large. Then, I'd move. Give them a glimpse that something is out there. Finally I'd strike.

I should probably point out that I'm not a psychopathic monster. Games can, to the outsider, be horrifying. My repeated MGS2 playthroughs probably looked like sadistic torture sessions—another young mind corrupted by violence and giant seafaring transport vehicles. That's not the case—if anything, the experience felt more like I was directing a movie. None of it was real, so what story can I tell? How about a story where the monster wins.

In Hitman: Blood Money, the monster is even more insidious. He hides in plain sight.

In Hitman: Blood Money, the monster is even more insidious. He hides in plain sight. Here, 47 is essentially the Thing—another film based on horror in a remote environment. In the Death on the Mississippi level you discover members of different social strata scattered throughout compartments of the ship including workers, revelers, and, of course, your intended victims. With care, you can move through them all, a powerful subversive presence that, if you're playing as intended, passes unseen. I always play stealth games as perfectly as possible, often reloading if the fantasy of hunting through these spaces is broken.

The ultimate example is Coloratura, the winner of last year's Interactive Fiction competition. In it, you're a literal monster—pulled from the deep and tasked with finding your way home. The monster's actions are initially obfuscated by its alien thought patterns, but eventually, as you work out what you're doing, you'll realise the effect that you're having on the ship's human inhabitants. And then you'll keep doing it anyway.

To an extent you can pull this off in any remote setting. But there's something about the sea that makes the concept so irresistible. In every direction is a vast and inhospitable ocean, and I'm the most deadly thing on it.

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alec Meer)

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game recommendations. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.>

This one’s regularly cited as a cult classic that didn’t quite get the acclaim it deserved at the time, but it bears repeating: Blood Money is io’s stealth game at the peak of its powers.

… [visit site to read more]

PC Gamer
steam sale day five

The Steam Summer Sale is off to a good start this week. After good deals on The Wolf Among Us, Tomb Raider, and Skyrim over the weekend, a few more of our favorite PC games go on sale today.

Don t forget to check out GOG s summer deals, too.
Reminder: if a game isn't a daily deal or a flash sale, it could pop up later in the sale for an even lower price. If you want to be safe, wait until June 30 to pick up a sale-long deal.

5 - Surgeon Simulator 2013
75% off: $2.49 / 1.74 - Steam store page
To enjoy Surgeon Simulator, you have to like that the impossibly finicky controls and unpredictable physics game-breaking flaws anywhere else are by design, and that you ll occasionally stab your patient in the eye with a scalpel when you meant to pick up a saw. The jokes that endear us to Surgeon Simulator that QWOP-like surgery is hard, that throwing a heart into an open chest cavity qualifies as a transplant are used up pretty quickly, but there is some joy to mastering all the operations, especially when taking turns and laughing at the failures of your friends.
4 - Risk of Rain
75% off: $2.49 / 1.74 Steam store page Flash sale: Buy it before 8 p.m. EST
Where most roguelikes are slow and methodical, Risk of Rain is fast and frenetic. A constantly ticking clock increases the game difficulty every few minutes, until dozens of weak enemies turn into massive piles of bosses. Risk of Rain is a tough game, but it also strikes a great balance between skill and luck there are 9 playable characters, each with unique attacks and special abilities, and there are dozens of power-ups to memorize. Hunting for that perfect combination for a successful run is what a good roguelike is all about. Bonus: Risk of Rain's devs recently updated their blog to announce that they're moving the game to a new engine, which will fix some of the game's technical issues.
3 - Dark Souls: Prepare to Die Edition
75% off: $4.99 / 4.99 - Steam store page
Dark Souls often gets discounted to $5, but if you haven't picked it up already, you're missing out on one of the best action RPGs of the past five years. It's brutally difficult but rewards the determined with a deeply interconnected world to explore, precise combat to master, and so, so many secrets to find. Dark Souls almost never tells you where to go or what to do, which is so uncommon these days that it's initially daunting. Dig in, and you'll realize how refreshing it is to discover and defeat everything yourself. Just remember to install DSfix, the mod that fixes Dark Souls' terrible locked resolution and other issues.
2 - Arma 3
50% off: $29.99 / 17.99 - Steam store page
The sandboxy war simulator has never dropped below $35, so this is the cheapest Arma 3 has ever been. Bohemia has done some good work augmenting Arma 3 with the free Zeus DLC recently, and over 7,700 mods and custom mission content await in Steam Workshop. Make sure you re close to the recommended spec, but this is absolutely one of the highest-fidelity, open-ended, moddable, and malleable PC games you can own.
1 - Hitman Collection
80% off: $8.99 / 5.99 - Steam store page Flash sale: Buy it before 8 p.m. EST
Hitman: Absolution wasn't exactly our thing, but this collection includes the game that made us disappointed in IO Interactive's latest stab at the series: Blood Money. Blood Money, released in 2007, is where it all came together: the elaborate maps, complex AI, arsenal of deadly weapons, and the incredible varied ways all those pieces can come together. Take Tom Francis' word for it: "Hitman is a murder simulator, and that might be a terrible thing. I don t know. But if you re going to make one, make it as beautiful as Blood Money. Make it a dark and complex work of interactive art, a working model of the mathematics of lies. Six years later, people like me will still be too enthralled with playing it to care." Unfortunately this collection omits 2004's Hitman: Contracts (it's also on sale separately for $1.99 / 0.99) but it does include the first two games, which are a fun nostalgia trip that show how far the series has evolved.

Other great deals today
Remember that games not categorized as Daily Deals or Flash Sales may be reduced further later in the sale.

Castle Crashers (90% off) $1.49 / 0.99
Dungeon Defenders (75% off) $3.74 / 2.49
Saints Row 4 (75% off) $9.99 / 7.49
Rogue Legacy (75% off) $3.74 /
FTL: Advanced Edition (60% off) $3.99 / 2.79
PC Gamer

Twice a month Wes guides you through the hacks, tricks, and mods you'll need to run a classic PC game on Windows 7/8. Each Pixel Boost guide comes with a free side of 4K screenshots from the LPC celebrating the graphics of PC gaming's past. This week: our favorite bald assassin's first outing in Hitman: Codename 47.

2012's Hitman: Absolution brought Agent 47 back into the assassination business, though not in the way we hoped. Gone were the sprawling levels that made up Blood Money's brilliantly intricate murder simulator. Six years before IO Interactive perfected the Hitman formula, though, it tapped into that first spark of brilliance with Hitman: Codename 47. The first Hitman introduced the series staples that its sequels would build on: disguises, hiding bodies, observing guard patterns. Codename 47 doesn't love modern Windows, but with a few simple setting changes (thanks OpenGL!) it runs like a champ, even at 4K.

Install it

Hitman: Codename 47 is available on GOG for $6 and on Steam for $7. If you want to own the entire catalog of Agent 47's assassination career, the Hitman Collection on Steam is $45. Later games in the series are more polished and more sophisticated, so consider grabbing them after our Hitman 1 history lesson.

Codename 47 shouldn't require any special patches or downloads to run on Windows 7 or Windows 8. Simply install the game, then try running it once to ensure it populates its .ini file. The game tries to run in Direct3D by default. Most likely, it's not going to work for you. Let's switch to OpenGL.

Run it in high resolution

Once Hitman: Codename 47 is installed, navigate to its installation directory and open up Setup.exe. This is a small launcher utility for changing a few game settings--resolution, renderer, and so on. We only need to make a couple changes. First, untick the fullscreen option. We want to run Hitman: Codename 47 in windowed mode, because it tends to crash on launch in fullscreen. We'll set the resolution in a moment, so you can actually run the game at your full monitor resolution, even with fullscreen disabled.

Also in the launcher, change the renderer from Direct3D to OpenGL. Then close the setup utility--we'll set the resolution in Hitman's .ini file. There's a great forum thread on GOG that lays out these tips, which allow the game to be run without messing around with Compatibility mode.

In Hitman's install directory, open up Hitman.ini in Notepad. It's a small file. You should see the following settings.

If you already used the setup utility, DrawDll renderopengl.dll should be the only DrawDll line that doesn't have // in front of it. // means the other renderer options are commented out.
The Window line indicates that the game will run in windowed mode.
Now, change the numbers beside Resolution to the resolution of your display.
f you're running the game on a multi-monitor setup, you may need to add another line to the .ini file to make sure the window appears in the right place. Simply add StartUpperPos 0,0 on a new line.
Save and close the file.

That's it! Time to play Hitman. If you have issues with the game running at unusual speed, check the forum thread linked above. It has a fix.
Mod it
Unfortunately, there are no noteworthy mods for Hitman: Codename 47. If you find yourself itching for a fresh (or better) Hitman experience, play Blood Money.

Hitman: Codename 47 at 4320x2560 on the LPC

These screenshots were captured by running Hitman across three portrait-oriented monitors on the Large Pixel Collider. For more guides to running classic games on modern Windows and more classic game screenshots, check out Pixel Boost every other week.


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