This article first appeared in PC Gamer magazine issue 355 in April 2021, as part of our 'Why I Love' series. Every month we talk about our favourite characters, mechanics, moments, and concepts in games—and explain why we adore them so much.
Here are just a few of the objects you can seriously harm someone with in the recent Hitman games: a blueberry muffin, a cannonball, a cheeseburger, a feather duster, a frying pan, a bone (the meat still on), a snow globe, driftwood, a cowboy bust, a bag of sugar, a wet floor notice, an android arm, a dead fish, a didgeridoo, a Maori paddle, and the classic, everlasting brick. Remember, we're just scratching the surface of smack-a-dude tech. When you get to expired-can-of-spaghetti levels of blunt force trauma, you'll know you're playing Hitman for real.
I've yet to see what Hitman 3 adds to the mix, but in catching up on the Hitman 2 DLC levels before wrapping the trilogy, I fell into an inescapable vortex of desire, the desire to bash people over the head with everything I possibly could. I've gotta smash 'em all, and there are so many good things to smash 'em with.
But let's examine the act of bashing someone over the head with A Thing first. IO figured out how to make it feel good and precise without indulging in wild knockout animations or burdening the player with the need for a perfect setup and execution. When you move to knock someone out with a blunt object, Agent 47 either bops them over the head if they're close, or hits them from across the room with the aim and velocity of an MLB pitcher.
When the rotating aiming reticle pops up and locks onto an enemy's head, so long as the cursor is within a couple feet of their skull, and the arc projects the object's journey—that's the moment Hitman hands you a 20 dollar bill and says get yourself a treat, have some fun, I'm just a damn videogame. Agent 47 wouldn't miss, so neither will you. He never smiles either, but the arc every object travels on from 47's abyssal pockets to some dope's dome forms a big grin from some angle. I mean, here's an austere meat machine born to kill pulling a ceramic cowboy bust, a banana, and a pool ball from his pockets and knocking out three trained mercenaries in under two seconds. Watch them as they fall, folding over like parade balloons. It's pure videogame slapstick.
VIDEO: The joy of hitting men in Hitman, also available on YouTube.
I'm always hoarding objects, walking around with eight gold bars, three wrenches, a couple muffins, and whatever else Agent Roomba hoovers up just in case I need to put a room to sleep with some explosive juggling. I like to imagine Agent 47, total confidence and assertion in his perfectly measured gait, walking around a secret island resort for rich criminals with bananas, ancient burial knives, and Fabergé eggs spilling out of his cargo shorts. Well hello, Agent 47. Is that an auto shop in your pants or are you just happy to see me? There's no avoiding the physical comedy meta either: your most essential tools often double as melee weapons. They're great panic buttons, especially if someone catches you loosening a valve with one. But I look at wrenches differently now, and that's a problem. I perceive all plumbers as threats.
Even if most of Hitman's blunt objects function similarly, they each carry immense thematic weight. There's not a single target that can avoid my desire to knock them out with something perfectly ironic, which has evolved into its own list of personal, vindictive objectives for me. Sometimes you'll get a nod in the massive list of challenges associated with each mission, but I love how I'm intrinsically compelled to bash my targets over the head with something thematically appropriate, even without the guiding hand of an overt mission objective. I took out Milton-Fitzpatrick Bank CEO Athena Savalas with a gold bar, of course. Druglord Rico Delgado went down with a cocaine brick. Each implement must be joined with the head of a given monster with the utmost care and consideration (for how much it's going to make you laugh).
Hitman's head-bashing mechanics aren't complex. They're nothing new in videogames, violent verbs from the earliest days of PC gaming. But they're a perfect example of how visual and thematic variety can give the impression of many possibilities, even if the only possibilities are to concuss professional bodyguards and elite criminals. I can't wait to see what everyday objects I can take out the worst people alive with when I get started with Hitman 3.