I don't mean to brag, but I'm pretty good at Hitman. I've got all sorts of level masteries, possess loads of exploding doodads, and can reliably bang out a Silent Assassin rating on any map from the recent games. At least, that's what I thought until about 45 minutes ago, when I began watching the entries for a $1000 Hitman 2 speedrun challenge, created and hosted by a YouTuber named Atrioc. I now realise my meagre talents mean nothing, and will retire in shame forthwith.
The setup was this: Atrioc enlisted Hitman speedrunner and contract creator davidredsox to put together the most "fiendishly difficult" Silent Assassin contract he could within the confines of Hitman 2's Miami map. The result was a mission that revolved around five targets: Miami's Mechanic, Medic, A/V Guy, Jogger, and Lazy Guard.
Those guys are all either hard to reach, hard to kill inconspicuously, prone to moving around, or some combination of the three. And they're spread out all over the map. Speedrunners had seven days to submit their best runs, with first, second, and third place getting $500, $200, and $100 respectively, plus an extra $200 in creativity prizes.
The results were equal parts absurd and impressive. The showcased runners exploit aspects of the game I didn't even know existed, pulling off capers with granular precision and delicate timing that I wouldn't be able to accomplish in a hundred years. They're all pretty amazing—I have to shout-out the guy who abused the fact that Hitman's mission timer resets after 24 hours to clock in a (technical) 47 second time—but special mention has to be given to the second place run by TuplaPekoni. The runner managed to launch Agent 47 into orbit using a broken violin and a remote mine, setting up the perfect opportunity for a sniping triple-kill as they hurtled back down to Earth.
It doesn't make much more sense in context, impressive as it is, which is why it's worth sticking around for Atrioc's explanations of the techniques that go into each run. It's a great opportunity to learn exactly what the speedrunners are doing in each of their videos, and deepen your understanding of the various weird systems that produce Hitman's clockwork world.
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One of Josh's first memories is of playing Quake 2 on the family computer when he was much too young to be doing that, and he's been irreparably game-brained ever since. His writing has been featured in Vice, Fanbyte, and the Financial Times. He'll play pretty much anything, and has written far too much on everything from visual novels to Assassin's Creed. His most profound loves are for CRPGs, immersive sims, and any game whose ambition outstrips its budget. He thinks you're all far too mean about Deus Ex: Invisible War.