Five Things We Learned From Hitman: Codename 47

By Aaron Matteson in Five Things, Humor, Lists!
Tuesday, September 13, 2011 at 1:00 pm

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Hitman: Codename 47 -- or, as it is known in its Czech release, Hitman: Revenge of the Furious Bald Man

If you are ever in a heated argument with someone who thinks that video games are nothing more than evil, morality-destroying killfests, you can bring up a multitude of games to counter their position. You could talk about Shadow of the Colossus, which makes a compelling case that violence, even in service of something as noble as love, can corrupt the soul. Or you could bring up puzzle games -- only the sickest of the sick could see anything shady in Tetris.  If you're really grasping at straws you could go with, uh, Heavy Rain? Sure, there's some violence, but much of the game is using your awesome sunglasses from the future to make your office prettier.

But please, whatever you do, don't bring up Hitman: Codename 47.

At a time when the tone of the next generation of video games was being decided, Hitman was an unabashedly bloody entry into the Eidos canon. You, as the titular Hitman, go on what could charitably be described as a hellish quest to end human lives.

But just because it is an anti-gaming crusader's dream doesn't mean Hitman is without merit. In fact, our favorite steely protagonist taught us a lot while hunting down his targets.

1.) It's clear when people are overcompensating.

 

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Did they make me without hair so I wouldn't leave forensic evidence behind? Or are they just dicks?

Even though Hitman (or "47") is an utterly capable, shockingly efficient slayer of men, one gets the sense that he's trying a little hard. The impeccable suit, the unswerving commitment to the job, the cold, direct way of speaking, it all seems kind of... put-on. But what could such a formidable person be trying to make up for?

Oh. Right. The luminous, white, mega-bald head.

Look, it's clear that 47 had several choices in life. One: say, "Well, I guess I'll make this work," and be comfortable with his lack of hair. Two: Break out of the sanitarium he wakes up in at the beginning of the game and become a highly paid hitman. Or three: call up representatives for Rogaine and offer to do modeling for the "before and after" pictures in their ads. 47 would play the part of "before."

Option one is probably the healthiest choice. Option three would require a lot of hard-selling by the Eidos marketing team to convince the Rogaine executives that video games are the best way to get their message out. Which leaves one option. 

 

2.) Wayward children often return in dramatic ways.

 

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Hey bros! It's me, your bro!

(Spoiler Alert -- if you are worried about spoilers for entertainment released eleven years ago, don't read the following paragraphs.)

Now that that's out of the way, let's get right to the spoilers. Hitman, it turns out, is a result of cloning experiments done by the very people he's been offing. These men, all part of the French Foreign Legion at some point, are attempting to create the perfect human. The last of his "parents" is Professor Ort-Meyer, who greets his returning experiment with the ominous phrase, "ah, the prodigal son returns."

At this point, there's either going to be a tearful reunion where 47 talks with his papa about that one Christmas when they both went sledding, or 47 is going to do battle with an army of clones and then end his creator's life. Based on the direction of the game so far, perhaps you can guess which route makes sense?

And since we included that spoiler alert at the beginning, let's ruin the ending of something else made in the year 2000! Uh. Let's see.

Uh, Maximus dies.

 

3.) Those with tough jobs have to find a way to laugh.

 

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47 has a tough job.  He's got to entertain himself somehow. Sometimes that means playing Scrabble on his phone. Other times that means throwing corpses on toilets.

  

4.) Intrigue trumps violence.

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47 decides to be subtle. Ish.

 

Have you heard of the World War II espionage action called Operation Mincemeat? It was an elaborate ruse by the British to convince the Axis Powers that the Allies were planning to attack Greece and Sardinia from their newly-acquired stronghold in North Africa, while the real plan was to mount an assault on Sicily. Essentially, the British got a body from a morgue, dressed it up as a British officer, gave the dead man "top secret" papers indicating that the Allies were planning to attack Sardinia, and then dumped him off the coast of Fascist Spain. When the body washed up, German spies got their hands on the papers and assumed they'd just stumbled upon vital information, and positioned their forces in exactly the wrong places. 

Why the sudden detour into WWII trivia? To illustrate a point -- the most engrossing part of conflict can be the deception and strategy of the thing as opposed to the actual combat. The most entertaining bits in Hitman actually aren't the ultra-violent bits. It's far more fun to stalk around in stolen clothing, to poison soup, to be generally clandestine. While the action is certainly diverting, the best parts of the game come when you put on your cloak and pull out your dagger. Metaphorically speaking. 

 

5.) Never underestimate the animal kingdom.

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At this point, 47 begins to have flashbacks to that jaguar in 'Nam.

 

Hitman can take on a legion of heavily armed soldiers, but to get past one little jaguar he has to bribe it with a dead pig. Go figure. 

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