The Hitman series is famous for its awesome assassination plots, and is sold as a cold and calculating murder game, but most of my time spent in Hitman 3 has been with my heart in my mouth, which I mean in all the best ways.
Hitman is kind of like this, but also not in the most important ways. It’s designed to elicit excitement but not a scare. It’s a thrill, one seemingly programmed to make me feel actual feelings, and I love almost every moment playing this game.
Allow me to explain. Video games are a deeply derivative artform, especially at this more expensive end of the market. They’re often content to simply be influenced by other games and walk a well-worn path, which is one of the main reasons your experiences playing games are so similar, and why it’s so easy to compare one to another. A shooter is a shooter is a shooter. Driving is driving. A game about a sad dad is another game about a sad dad.
Not Hitman, though. I am loving this shit. By reliving memories of childhood games and other important experiences, it’s using memory and impulse to trigger a response while I’m playing that gets me going.
Think about it: what are you spending most of your time doing in Hitman? You’re playing dress-up. You’re playing hide-and-seek . You’re even playing tag.
These aren’t abstract actions that a game is simply doing its best to simulate, things I’ve never done and will never do, like fly a jet, or jump over spike-filled chasms. We can relate to the sensations and emotions of playing these games, on a primal level, because we all played games on the playground and we can all remember what it was like.
So the things I’m doing in Hitman don’t pull at those ho-hum video game feelings. Its harder, and elicits a response that’s based as much on my memories of real-world excitement as what I’m actually doing on the screen.
Hitman 3, like its immediate predecessors, is just full of these moments. I’ve never been to a rave in Germany, or a fancy gathering in Dubai, or a vineyard! These are places I shouldn’t be, and don’t belong, either as myself or the character—but I am, and it’s just so exciting.
The whole point of all this heightened blood pressure is the immense satisfaction of a job well done afterwards. Here, tension will ratchet up, but also at several points blow off in the most exhilarating way.