Ever since I was but a lad, the prospect of my first virtual hit a mere glimmer in my eye, I’ve had a dream. Oh, alright then, ever since I finished Blood Money. Anyhoo, that dream is of a world where Scotland always qualify for the World Cup. An existence where Back to the Future II's hoverboards are both affordable and in plentiful supply. And, most importantly, a world where the next Hitman is announced at this week’s E3 as an open world game.
Read below to find out why Agent 47 doing a Niko Bellic would be a murderously good idea.
47 wakes up in a grotty hotel. Stepping out onto the balcony, he equips his binoculars and sees his target in an apartment across the street. The slaphead sociopath waits until the man finishes his breakfast, exits his building and starts driving to work. After hotwiring the most inconspicuous vehicle he can find, the assassin starts to tail him, keeping a safe distance until he gets to work. It’s a non descript office building, though handily, sits across from a nearby clock tower with a handy sniping spot.
Above: A sandbox-style Hitman would be all about watching and waiting
Trouble is, 47’s employer has specified the job needs to look like an accident. So he can’t just pop the poor chap from across the street as he checks his morning spreadsheets and struggles through a shitty vending machine coffee. It's then 47 realises he’s going to have to watch this guy's daily routine, waiting for an opportunity to make his death look like an accident.
Maybe this’ll take days. Perhaps he’ll strike on a Tuesday when Jimmy Office Drone decides to treat himself to a salmon and cream cheese bagel from the snack van in the car park. 47 could sneak in while nobody's looking and inject said cream cheese carton with Columbia’s finest neurotoxin.
Or maybe he waits until Thursday, when the hit does his weekly yoga in a secluded park during his lunchtime. It would be the perfect opportunity to syringe him full of drugs that’ll simulate a heart-attack.
Above: That's it, Jimmy. Enjoy your stretches while you can, chump
But it’s not just this hit you have to worry about. As 47 in this open world city, you’ll have to juggle your schedule. You might have three jobs you have to complete in a week. With the key to taking each one out successfully, managing your time and analysing their schedule, so you can murder each in the stealthiest fashion possible.
It would open the game up like never before, requiring the sort of patience that Hitman titles have always demanded, but over a much longer timescale. But c’mon, just imagine how rewarding the payoff of finally whacking someone would be if you’d been tracking their movements for a fortnight. Eat poison cream cheese, Jimmy!
Above: Next time you enjoy a bagel, best check it for poison syringes
Right, my creative writing and… eh, slightly homicidal fantasies placed to one side, Hitman going open world wouldn’t mean the series would have to ditch the mechanics that have made it such a success. 47’s games have always centred around scripted environments, which are open enough to let you try multiple murdering tactics, but still focused so you don’t feel lost.
The key to making Hitman work in a sandbox world would be keeping pockets of the environment focused and full of semi scripted moments. Say you had to infiltrate a prison or a shopping mall. These locations could be every bit as tightly choreographed as the best levels in Blood Money. But driving to each when they both exist in a fully operating city would only make the experience that much more atmospheric.
Above: A shopping mall would be a great location for a hit
GTA IV showed glimpses of the formula during a couple of its better missions. The best example is probably when Niko enters a building, nabs a sniper rifle then shoots the poor bastard who’s in the adjacent building. Here, you could look through his window with the rifle as he watches TV, read the number off his phone and ring him so he stands up, making himself an easy target. Or you could simply shoot the satellite dish on his roof so he goes up on there to investigate, then BAM!
Now imagine this on a much grander scale where you might be juggling several of these jobs at once. Excited yet?