Hitman: Blood Money was, for a long time, a pinnacle of sandbox stealth games. Each level had a dizzying number of possibilities for assassinating your targets. For its time, the AI felt intimidatingly complex, and learning to navigate through all the layers of guards and NPCs and their various interactions was tense. So watching all of that fall to pieces as speedrunner 'Saintmillion' beat the game in 36 minutes by exploiting the hell out of the AI is one of the highlights of the Awesome Games Done Quick speedrunning marathon happening this week. I'll never see Hitman: Blood Money the same way again.
Adding insult to injury, Saintmillion demonstrated how utterly breakable Blood Money can be as a Silent Assassin on Professional, its hardest difficulty. The former means that he can't blow his cover, leave any witnesses, bodies, or equipment behind, can't be seen on camera, and can't kill innocents without making it look like an accident. The latter means he's doing all of that against AI enemies in top form—they're more assertive, aggressive, and do more damage. For someone like me, it's an almost unfathomable challenge. For Saintmillion, it's a walk in the park.
Twice a year, the best speedrunners from across the world gather to raise money for charity during the marathon week of Games Done Quick. Check out eight of the must-watch speedruns on PC from 2016's Summer Games Done Quick.
Although the first mission gets off to a rough start as Saintmillion gets busted by a guard, which takes place in a cocaine factory disguised as a winery, it's otherwise an effortless, two-minute sprint. With impeccable timing and understanding of where the some-odd 30 NPCs could be at any one time, Saintmillion kills his two targets and blitzes through the level.
But as the speedrun progresses, things go from impressive to downright ridiculous. Stealth games often depend on a sense of immersion. Players need to believe that the guards who patrol the area aren't just robots following an automated path, but people. That's why the Hitman series has always gone to great lengths in making characters seem unpredictable and human. Saintmillion's speedrun shatters that illusion in hilarious ways.
The metaphorical hammer breaking Blood Money's sense of difficulty is Agent 47's coin. While his guns might seem like his most prized tools, Saintmillion quickly explains that the coin is the source for his godly ability to infiltrate any level. "The coin in this run is really broken," Saintmillion explains. "When you throw a coin at people and they don't see you hold the coin, they just do what's next in their patrol scheme—or series of things they were doing."
Using this simple trick, Saintmillion is able to exploit just about any guard into doing exactly what he wants. One minute they're about to attack him for trespassing and the next they're fixed intently on the shiny piece of change laying on the ground as if nothing ever happened. My favorite use of the coin happens at 39:24 in the video above (25:16 in the speedrun) during the mission, A House of Cards. Agent 47's third target is Sheik Mohammad Bin Faisal Al-Khalifa who is followed by two armed guards everywhere he goes. But Saintmillion has a hilariously simple solution.
It's one of the few moments I burst out laughing during Awesome Games Done Quick. The way everyone in the room stops to look at Agent 47 holding a coin is just so ridiculous.
Saintmillion's speedrun is full of these moments that make the whole thing worth a watch from start to finish, like throwing a coin at a glass ceiling so that it shatters and kills two targets at the same time. But my favorite comes later, during the mission You Better Watch Out, when he is forced to cruelly gun down a small dog. Why? "I have to kill the dog," he explains. "The dog is a witness and I will not get Silent Assassin because the dog will tell the police." That's not hyperbole either, as this guide suggests players need to, at the very least, sedate the animal prior to the assassination. But hey, speed is a factor here. Besides, it fits nicely with AGDQ's inside joke of "kill the animals."
So far, this has been one of my favorite speedruns done at AGDQ. While speedrunning is always an incredible feat, it's especially satisfying seeing someone trivialize what was once considered an amazing stealth game. If you have your own favorite moments from AGDQ so far, let us know in the comments.