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The diary of an RNG Hitman, part 1

(Image credit: Io Interactive)

This diary was originally serialised in PC Gamer magazine. For more quality articles about all things PC gaming, you can subscribe now in the UK and the US.

The rules

1. Weapons chosen via a lotto spinner.
2. One weapon per target.
3. No reloads except upon death.

I never get the most out of sandbox games, because I’m always looking for the ‘right’ way to do something. If a game like Deus Ex has optional stealth, I will do everything I can to ghost that sucker, while if a game suggests a way of completing an open objective, I will follow that method to the bitter end. Nowhere have I struggled with this more than IO Interactive’s recent Hitman games. Their sandboxes are bigger and more choice abundant than most, yet I cannot bring myself to mess around with any of it. 

In a bid to make myself think creatively, I had an idea. I bought a cheap bingo set that includes a spinning lotto machine. My plan is to look up every weapon on every Hitman level, assigning each a number corresponding to the numbers in my lotto machine. At the outset of a mission, I’ll spin the machine once for every target on the level. Whatever number falls out, that’s the weapon I must use to eliminate that particular target, no matter how noisy, conspicuous or absurd it may be. 

For the purposes of this escapade, I’m playing Hitman 2 with the legacy pack installed, mainly because it’s tidier. I’m playing the vanilla Hitman campaign in sequence with the exception of the tutorial mission. I’ll start each mission with the same equipment, a silenced pistol, fibre wire, some coins, and whatever the default disguise is for the mission. I’m also adding a sniper-rifle as a smuggled item, as they tend not to appear in the game. 

While I can only kill targets with the specified weapon, for non-targets I can use whatever the situation requires. I’m also only allowed to reload a save if I die. As for the weapon list, it includes anything that can be picked up and used as a weapon in a Hitman level. 

I’ve also added ‘Falling’ and ‘Drowning’ to the list, as both of those can be performed on most targets. I’m going to get out of my bad habits if it kills me. Or at least, if it kills a lot of other people.

Sharp fashion

It’s Paris Fashion Week and my targets are Viktor Novikov and Dalia Margolis, who are using the show as a front for auctioning terrorist strikes. I’m here to put an end to the bidding, permanently. Time to spin the wheel. 

The first ball to roll out of my machine is number eight. According to my list that’s a kitchen knife, a long-standing Hitman staple that I’ll soon be using to staple Viktor Novikov to a wall. 

The second ball is 15, a wrench. Hardly the most exciting weapon in Hitman’s list, but it will mean getting up close and personal to Margolis, which I remember from my previous playthrough to be tricky. 

Novikov first. He’s wandering around the show floor with a bodyguard in tow, so I’ll need to separate the two. I also need to acquire the knife, so naturally I start looking for the kitchen. I head into the bar, where I notice event staff wandering around. I’ll need a uniform to get into the kitchen, so I continue out into the garden finding a flight of stairs leading to the basement. Two event workers are having a smoke break at the bottom. I overhear them chatting about how Novikov’s preferred cocktail is something called a Bareknuckle Boxer. I file this for later. 

One of the workers returns upstairs. The other walks through the door leading into the basement. I follow him and quietly knock him out, stealing his uniform and dumping his unconscious body in a crate. I wander through the underground vaults before stumbling into the kitchen. After a minute of poking around I find a kitchen knife. I also find a wrench in a storage area adjacent to the kitchen, which is nice stroke of luck. 

(Image credit: Warner Bros Interactive)

I head back upstairs, a plan forming in my mind. Behind the bar is a food-prep area. In the far corner is a box of rat poison. I pick one up and head to the bar, making up a Bareknuckle Boxer with one extra special mixer. Then I wait until Novikov arrives for his drink, and dash to the nearby men’s room, hiding in a cupboard. It isn’t long before Novikov stumbles through the door and deposits several ounces of featherweight champion into the toilet. The rest is easy. Knife. Throat. Dead. I stuff the body in the cupboard and leave. A clean job. But if I’m honest, that’s roughly how I offed Novikov the first time I played, only that time I drowned him in his own sick.

In truth, I’d forgotten about the bodyguard, and trying to navigate that problem threw me back into my old patterns. Hopefully Margolis will spur me into being more creative. She’s upstairs at the auction.

I found an invite to the auction earlier, so I get my tuxedo back and pass through the security to get upstairs where there’s another checkpoint frisking people.

I don’t want to lose my wrench, so I carefully knock out a patrolling guard and steal his uniform. I also pick up his pistol, a Bartoli 75-R.

I head upstairs and find Margolis. Like Novikov, she’s being trailed by another bodyguard, and she’s constantly surrounded by other people. I spend ages following them around, looking for an opportunity where I can, ahem, wrench her out of existence. Eventually I decide to just try my luck, but as I’m selecting the wrench I notice three words beneath its icon “Non-lethal melee”.

Ach! I’d forgotten you can’t kill people with blunt weapons in Hitman. I consider how to resolve this, concluding the only fair way is to spin the lotto machine again. The number that rolls out is one, which turns out is a Bartoli 75-R.

At least I don’t have to go scouting for the new weapon. But this is an unsilenced pistol, so not exactly a subtle weapon.

I follow Margolis around a bit more, thinking things over, when I notice that one of the rooms she goes in—overlooking the fashion stage—only has one other guard in it. I decide to knock out the guard and make my kill there. I’ll have to kill the bodyguard as well, but so be it.

(Image credit: Warner Bros Interactive)

Margolis leaves with her shadow, and I quickly deal with the bodyguard, hiding him in yet another cupboard. After a while Margolis returns with her lapdog. I’m about to pop the two of them when something unexpected happens. Margolis walks toward the windows, where I’ve mistakenly left the security guard’s rifle on the floor. “Isn’t it your job to look out for these things?” she sneers to her bodyguard. He walks up to the rifle, picks it up, and leaves the room with it. I silently thank the god of murder and raise the pistol. One loud bang later and Margolis is dead. I rush out the door and escape via a nearby window, sliding down the drainpipe and exiting the level via a helicopter at the back of the building.

Getting medieval

Sapienza, Italy. This medieval coastal village is the jewel in Hitman’s locational crown. I’m here to kill local crime lord Silvio Caruso, as well as a rogue scientist named Francesca De Santis. She’s developing a virus for Caruso that I also need to destroy. 

After what happened in Paris, I’ve altered the rules slightly, leaving out the non-lethal weapons on my deadly bingo card. I spin the wheel while 47 reads the local newspaper. The numbers that come out are 15 for De Santis, which is a sabre, and six for Caruso, which is a medieval battle axe. Two of the most conspicuous weapons in the game. This’ll be interesting. 

I’ll worry about the weapons later. First I need a disguise, and a good one—one of Caruso’s henchmen to be precise. I know I can get into the mansion via a crumbling tower of Sapienza’s medieval wall. There are two henchmen patrolling it, one of whom proves easy to grab for a new disguise. 

Suitably threaded, I now need to find the weapons. But Sapienza is a massive level, and I don’t have hours to spend scouting every corner. In the end I look up the weapon locations, and I’m glad I did, because both are hidden away. The sabre is located inside the town hall, while the battle axe is embedded into the ceiling of another old tower behind Caruso’s mansion. 

(Image credit: Warner Bros Interactive)

I grab the sabre first. The town hall is locked up tight, but I shimmy up a drainpipe and enter through a second-floor window. The sabre is above the door, and I have to shoot it down with my silenced pistol. I’m concerned about how I’m going to get the sabre out of the town hall, but it turns out nobody seems to mind a bald gangster wandering around town with a sword.

The obliviousness continues as I stroll through the mansion gate. This piques my curiosity, and I decide to grab the battle axe before moving against either target, which I do without too much fuss. I’m now walking around a heavily guarded crime-lords’ mansion with a sword on my back and an axe clutched in my right hand. Nobody bats an eye.

I can only assume the pattern of my Italian shirt makes me invisible to mafiosos. One guard holding a shotgun even waves to me and says, “What up, bro?” as I saunter past him armed like Robert the fucking Bruce.

Killing my targets still isn’t going to be easy. Caruso is flanked at all times by three bodyguards, all of whom have the dreaded white circle of suspicion hovering over their heads. Da Santis only has one lackey, but the room she spends most of her time in is absolutely swarming with guards.

I spend ages trying to figure out a way to get them alone. I could follow the mission stories, but the whole point of this exercise is to avoid the trodden path. I walk around for so long I get sloppy, and almost blow my cover by walking right into Caruso, arousing his suspicion. I run off and hide until the heat cools off.

I’m about to start exploring the mission stories, when suddenly Caruso walks alone into the ground floor lounge. I’m not sure what’s happened, but I can only assume that my bumping into him upset the AI’s routine, somehow shedding him of his protection. Without hesitating, I cob the battle axe straight at his head. Caruso goes down like, well, like he’s been poleaxed. A nearby maid I didn’t notice screams. I walk over and punch her in the face, then leg it as guards start to pour in from all sides.

(Image credit: Warner Bros Interactive)

I run up the stairs, somehow undetected, astonished I got away with such spur-of-the-moment madness. There’s an unconscious witness to deal with, but I’ll do that soon enough. Emboldened by my success, I set my sights on De Santis, gliding straight through the guard hive to the balcony on the far side. Now I notice that De Santis’s actual office has no guards in it.

I wait outside on the terrace for her to come around, toss a coin to bring her and her bodyguard out of the room, then slip into the office and stick the sabre through her back. I’m dust before the body is found.

Job done, mostly. I head downstairs, quietly drag the unconscious maid into a nearby bathroom, and put a bullet in her head with my silenced pistol. Then I head down into the laboratory underneath the mansion and deal with the virus. I escape in a flying-boat moored outside the laboratory.

I did it. I took a ludicrous chance with a ludicrous weapon and it paid off. This is the most free I’ve felt in a sandbox since it was actually filled with sand. There are three targets in my next destination, Marrakesh. It’s going to be quite the rollover.

Check back tomorrow for the second part.