Half-Life 2 - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (RPS)

Those of you chained to the churning wheel of the internet might have seen this facial recognition algorithm thingo doing the rounds. It’s called ImageNet Roulette, and it’s basically a website where you feed in a photo of your human face and see what the cybergods of our terrible future make of you. But it’s probably not safe to show the neurohive your real face. So we showed it 13 pictures of videogame characters instead, to see if the machine lords of the net realm can tell who they are and what they are all about. The short answer: not really, but sometimes. The neural net, it turns out, is a dangerous idiot.



There's something special about bank levels. Whenever a stealth game or an immersive sim asks me to sneak into a bank of any description, I find it hugely exciting. Walking into the gleaming marble lobby, taking a mental note of the armed guards, security cameras, bulletproof glass, and laser grids. Looking for holes in the security that I can exploit. Vents to creep into, keycards to pickpocket, loot to snaffle. Then pulling off the perfect heist without being seen or heard by anyone and strolling casually out of the front door.

A bank level is a puzzle, really. A seemingly impenetrable fortress you have to figure out how to infiltrate, using your imagination to game the systems, cleverly navigate the level, and outsmart the AI. The Palisade Bank in Eidos-Montréal's Deus Ex: Mankind Divided is a recent example of a great bank level, being a colossal, monolithic citadel filled with sensitive data to steal, complex, interlinked security systems to bypass, and heavily armed guards to outwit. Much of this level is optional, but spending time there is enormously entertaining.

Back in 2017 I interviewed Clémence Maurer, lead designer on the Palisade Bank map, for a making of feature. In the interview she described the level she designed as a "tough, rich, and super dense map" where players are given all the tools they need to infiltrate it, but never a way how. "The bank rewards smart, adventurous players who explore every corner of the map," she says. "The pieces of the puzzle are not meant to be given away, but earned."

And that's a big part of why I love bank levels like this. Those moments when you're standing back, hiding in the shadows, or even in plain sight, and just figuring the thing out. Observing the guards, studying their patrols, and looking for interesting ways to navigate the environment. In a lot of cases you can just brute-force your way in, but for me the best bank levels really shine when you slip in and out unseen and unheard—doubly so if you've managed to fill your pockets with loot, because why infiltrate a bank and not take anything?

These levels are also appealing to me in the same way heist movies are. A period of meticulous planning leading up to the big caper in the final act, and that simmering tension of whether the plan will work or not. Except, in the case of videogames, this feeling is more pronounced because you're the one actually doing the job. The heists in games like Payday and Grand Theft Auto V are dramatic and undoubtedly loads of fun, but I prefer it when staging the crime is left entirely up to me, rather than prescribed by a developer.

A grand, temple-like financial hub catering to the city's elite

I spent hours gutting every corner of the Palisade Bank. Opening every safe, rifling through every desk, and hacking every computer. And when I slowly strolled back out to the streets of Prague through the lobby, the security staff oblivious to my crimes, it felt amazing. Immersive sims always turn me into a terrible kleptomaniac, and I guess this loot-stuffed map is the natural conclusion of that style of play. And let's be honest, it's just fun to steal things in games and get away with it.

Which leads me to the latest level released for Hitman 2. This new assassination, titled Golden Handshake, takes place in the New York branch of the Milton-Fitzpatrick Investment Bank: a grand, temple-like financial hub catering to the city's elite. It's the perfect setting for a Hitman level, with tight security, a target whose every move is shadowed by a team of guards, and IO Interactive's usual high standards of atmosphere, world-building, and architecture.

Grand Central Station seems to have inspired the bank's lavish, ostentatious architecture, with shafts of light streaming through tall glass windows. The sense of scale in the main hall is dizzying, and I like how Miltzon-Fitzpatrick has augmented the old building with modern elements. Dotted around the lobby are modern metal cubes containing meeting rooms, lit by the old chandeliers above. IO is particularly good at this kind of spatial contrast: see also, the glass structure sitting atop the crumbling stone castle in the Isle of Sgàil map.

But the real meat of the level is found in the basement, where the vault is housed. You can actually get into the vault area without a disguise, as long as you don't have any illegal items on you. Here you can access the private lockboxes, a few of which can be lock-picked to find some interesting items. But to access the room where the imposing vault door is, you'll need to disguise yourself as an elite security guard and find a keycard. And even then there are several other steps required to actually get into the vault itself.

On the upper floors of the bank you'll find a bustling stock exchange

On the upper floors of the bank you'll find a bustling stock exchange with stressed investment bankers shouting into telephones, ordering people to buy or sell. The grease-stained, half-filled pizza boxes are a nice touch too: a clue, perhaps, that these people basically live here. Climb another floor and you'll find the office of the bank's director, the cruel and unscrupulous Athena Savalas. One of the best mission stories in Golden Handshake involves 47 posing as a worker who's being theatrically fired by the cold-hearted director.

Savalas' office is one of the highlights of the map, looking like something you'd see in a Bond villain's lair. A massive glass clock overlooks the main hall of the bank, and her office is located behind it. You can imagine her standing there, watching the staff below, making sure the business is running smoothly. When 47 turns up for his firing, if you choose that particular route, it's a genuinely intimidating place. But, well, the clock is made of glass, and there's a drop below, and… you know what I'm getting at. It wouldn't be a Hitman level if it didn't give you a satisfyingly brutal way to kill a horrible person.

The bank is something of a curio compared to Hitman 2's other levels, however. It's smaller than usual, which initially disappointed me, but after completing it a couple of times I realised that this is actually one of its strong points. In the bigger maps there's a luxury of space: large, unpatrolled areas where you can sneak, explore, and observe without being hassled. But because the bank is so tight and confined, you always feel on edge, under scrutiny, on the verge of being spotted—even when you've found a high-level disguise. That gives it a really interesting energy, and makes the bank feel appropriately secure. After all, breaking into a place like this should feel like a challenge.

The map is full of personality and detail, like the glimpses of New York you catch through the rain-splattered windows, or the nerdy posters pinned up in the IT department. I love the depth of detail in IO's environments—something I took a close look at for Kotaku—and it's always a delight to explore the places these artists build. Their genius lies not only in creating a palpable sense of place, and a memorable aesthetic, but in building levels that interplay beautifully with the game's systems, opening up countless possibilities.

Honestly, I'd be happy if they just kept releasing new levels forever. If Hitman became an ongoing, evolving service, for want of a better word, instead of a series with numbered sequels, I'd be into it. Hitman 2 is one of the best stealth games on PC, and now, thanks to the Milton-Fitzpatrick Investment Bank, it joins the likes of Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory, Dishonored: Death of the Outsider, and Thief 2 as a game featuring a great bank level. Seriously, if you're making a stealth game, put a bank in it, and let me rob that bank.


It’s time that Agent 47 had a break from the assassin life. But unfortunately, his superiors have other arrangements.  In this month's Hitman 2 roadmap, Agent 47 is jetting off to Haven Island, a tropical sun-soaked resort in The Maldives. But there’s no time for pina coladas, there are plenty of new missions that run from the beginning to the end of September that include new targets, unlocks, and missions. 

Kicking off September were two escalation contracts that have already been released. The Dalton Dissection contract will have Agent 47 return the New York bank to take out some new targets wearing his cutest disguise to date, the bank robber disguise with bonus bunny mask. The second contract, The Covert Dispersal, challenges Agent 47 to crash a quaint garden party by eliminating the undercover officers.

Next on the roadmap is the Dubious Cohabitation contract available on September 12 and has our undercover agent seek out an old assassin friend. If the mission goes to plan and your long-range skills are on point then Agent 47 will be walking away in a lavish cashmerian suit.

On September 13, the first Legacy Elusive Target of this month is The Blackmailer. The target will be walking the catwalks of Paris and Agent 47 will need to take him out and retrieve a secret memory stick.

Another escalation contract will be added on September 19 called the Merele Revelation which has Agent 47 infiltrate a cult disguised as a Shaman. Upon completing this contract you’ll unlock the Emetic Grenade that makes enemies vomit.

September 24 is when Haven Island will be available for expansion pass owners. Alongside the sunny resort are two expansion pass exclusive Special Assignments, the Bitter Pill and A Silver Tongue, the perfect holiday package. 

Then finally, another Legacy Elusive target is added on September 27 named The Angel of Death. Agent 47 returns to Marrakesh to take out an old retired nurse. You’ll be up against the clock with 10 days to take her down. 

IO Interactive will also be adding featured contracts, game updates and a live stream as the month progresses. With two contracts out already and the next one releasing September 12 it seems like the Summer holidays are over for Agent 47, maybe the Christmas holidays will be more relaxing.

HITMAN™ 2 - IO_Clemens
August in HITMAN 2 brings another content drop for Expansion Pass owners, adding the Smart Casual suit and 2 new items to Agent 47’s inventory. All HITMAN 2 owners will also get a host of quality-of-life improvements for various aspects of the game and numerous fixes and tweaks in this month’s update.

Read the the full Patch Notes here:

Game Update 2.60.0: What’s Changing?
Sniper Chamber Reload Speed
We’ve added a visual indicator for all Sniper Rifles (when scoped) to indicate how long it will take Agent 47 to add another bullet to the chamber (or the time it will take before you can fire another shot). This will be only be visible for Sniper Rifles but on both Sniper Assassin maps and campaign/sandbox missions. A similar indicator will also be visible to show the time for a full reload.

In the image below, you can see the ‘chamber load progression’ in the bottom right-hand third of the scope, as well as how many bullets are left in the magazine before you need to reload.
The image also includes some subtle hints to an upcoming Expansion Pass location, currently known only as ‘The Resort’.

Sniper Assassin SA
We’ve made a change to ensure that the ‘Sniper Assassin‘ challenge is unlocked when completing the necessary requirements and earning the SA rating. The SA rating is awarded even if a target spots 47 before they can share that knowledge, however this logic was not applied to the ‘Sniper Assassin‘ challenges. This meant that it was possible to earn the SA rating but not unlock the Sniper Assassin challenge.

Not That Fast
We’ve made a change to when the ‘Exit Mission’ prompt becomes available, as a follow-up to a change we made in April. After eliminating the final target, there will now be a 3-second delay until the ‘Exit Mission’ prompt appears and players can exit.

No Evidence
We’ve fixed an issue where the ‘No Evidence‘ challenge does not unlock if either; the body of a sedated NPC is found, or if a target finds a pacified/killed body – even if 47 kills the target before they share that knowledge.

Tag Team
When viewing items in the in-game inventory, we have simplified the tags. Instead of each item reading ‘Non-lethal melee’ AND ‘Non-lethal throw’, it will now have a single ‘Non-lethal’ tag. Same change for ‘Lethal’ items too.

Frisk Detection
When viewing your in-game inventory, we have removed the ‘Detected During Frisk’ tag, since it is no longer possible to get frisked with an illegal item in your inventory. Instead, we will now display a ‘Not Detected During Frisk’ tag on relevant items. This change will make those items easier to identify and remove redundant tags from many illegal items.


PC-Specific Fixes
Contract Crash
We’ve fixed an issue that could cause players with low-end Nvidia cards to encounter a crash when attempting to launch a contract.

DX12 Stability
We have improved stability when using DX12 on Nvidia graphic cards.

GPU Memory Usage
The Options>Graphics menu now displays GPU memory usage on DX12.

Category Navigation Shortcuts
We’ve added shortcuts for navigating between weapon and gear categories (pistol/shotgun, melee/explosives, etc) and challenges (feats/assassination/classics, etc). We’ve added two options: Use Home and End / Q and E to navigate left and right. (Note that these shortcuts will not have in-game prompts, so feel free to make a “PSA” thread on Reddit to share the word and we’ll give it some gold.)

Read the the full Patch Notes here:
HITMAN™ 2 - IO_Clemens

Expansion Pass Content Release Details

Owners of the Expansion Pass will be able to download the new Smart Casual Pack starting on August 27.

We recommend that you always search for it directly on Steam and download the content from there.

The Smart Casual Pack is out now!

QUAKE II - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Katharine Castle)

It’s Gamescom this week, which can only mean one thing – more confirmed ray tracing games for Nvidia’s RTX and selected GTX 16-series graphics cards. Indeed, the big one that’s just been announced is Minecraft, which (like Quake II RTX) is getting full, real-time ray tracing support for everything from water reflections to its entire lighting system. That’s not all, though. Dying Light 2 will also be getting real-time ray tracing, while Tencent’s freshly-announced action survival game Synced: Off-Planet will be getting ray-traced reflections and shadow support.

In truth, the number of games on this list that you can actually play with ray tracing enabled right this second is still pretty small. A lot of the confirmed RTX games you’ll see below still haven’t received their promised ray tracing and performance-boosting DLSS support, so this is more of a complete ‘this is how many games will have it eventually’ kind of thing than ‘these are all the games you can play with ray tracing right now’. Still, if you’re currently on the fence about buying one of Nvidia’s RTX or RTX Super graphics cards as opposed to the new AMD Navi GPUs, this guide should hopefully help you decide whether ray tracing is something worth investing in. Here’s every confirmed ray tracing and DLSS game we know about so far.


HITMAN™ - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Emily Gera)

Thanks to a peppering of weird bugs over the years, Hitman has seen a few iterations of the killer briefcase come and go. Hitman 2‘s briefcase bug, often heralded in the form of long GIFs, turns your standard hitman briefcase into a homing missile that spins like a throwing star and bends gently around corners as it follows its prey.

Now, developer IO Interactive have brought back the bug as an unlockable weapon, leading to what is – I think – my favourite ever version of Killer Briefcase weaponry: Absurdly slow and tediously steady. Take a look after the jump.



IO Interactive recently brought back Hitman 2's briefcase bug, which turned briefcases into gently spinning homing missiles, as an unlockable weapon. It is simultaneously crap and brilliant, always finding its target... eventually. Now that it's in the game, you can take it for a spin yourself, but first a video demonstration!

D-ClassPersonnel posted a two minute clip on Reddit showcasing the briefcase's many wonderful features as it slowly—very, very slowly—hurtles towards its jogging target. There's a lot to enjoy. 

Unlike, say, a bullet, you can actually outrun the briefcase, but you'll have to keep running forever because it will never give up. Another person blocking its path? It will just pass right through them. Walls? Screw walls, it can pass through them as well. It's also extremely quiet, so nobody will notice it. Not even when it's clipping through their skull. 

There's a point where it almost looks like it's catching up, but no, its target turns a corner and gap increases. It's not until she stops for a chat that the briefcase strikes. Honestly it would be a great incentive for my jogs, which I usually end after 1 minute, heaving up my guts and melting in a puddle of sweat. 

If you want to kill in style, you can unlock it in the Best Case scenario, netting yourself the ICA Executive Briefcase MKII. It comes with a sticker. 

HITMAN™ 2 - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Natalie Clayton)

The most terrifying monsters are those you can’t escape. Time, for one, will make dirt of us all. In the right hands, luggage can be just as deadly. With a lumbering momentum and clockwork rotation, the briefcase will find us all. Turning corners? Useless. Hiding behind a wall? A joke. Even burying it in the “resolved bugs” folder didn’t keep it down for long – the homing briefcase is coming back, and there’s no getting away this time.



Hitman 2 is a fantastic game. But a small, hilarious development quirk discovered after launch - which caused any briefcase tossed by Agent 47 to glide languidly, yet majestically, around corners as it homed in on poor, unsuspecting victims - briefly turned it into the best game. It was a sad day when IO Interactive fixed the issue (if only by upping the speed to make it look marginally less ridiculous), but now the original case is returning, and officially too.

IO has just announced Hitman 2's content roadmap for August and, there, primed for the tail-end of next week, on 8th August, is the reappearance of the much-missed hover-luggage (as seen in the gif below). Now officially titled The Homing Briefcase, it will be made available as an unlockable gadget in the upcoming, and brilliantly named, Best Case Scenario challenge pack.

"With a throwing speed tweaked for maximum style," explains IO of its revamped, and newly slowed death-case, "there is no end to the possibilities this item offers. Of course, it sports the signature MK II look - the ultimate mark of superb craftmanship! Could be used to hide illegal items but that is clearly beside the point."

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