The Hitman series has always taken pride in being a bit odd. The wacky settings of Blood Money, for instance, range from a party based on heaven and hell to a hillbilly wedding where everybody has a gun. However, Hitman 2016 is easily one of the funniest games of this year - mainly because no matter how much you mess up and butcher your mission, you're still presented as a master murderer. It's almost as if developer IO has done this intentionally in order to allow for hilarity.
It's easy to be awful at Hitman. Hell, you can be absolutely abhorrent at it thanks to the fact that the only way to fail a mission is to die - although you will be penalised on points at the end of said mission. There aren't any difficulty settings with harsher punishments, and Agent 47 isn't even reprimanded by the narrator if he messes something up.
Of course, the reason that Hitman is such a lenient game is because it's all about experimentation: my past reviews have praised the game for its focus on testing out new ways of playing and using trial and error to orchestrate an assassination. Having said that, though, if IO wanted players to get better with every try and take every hit seriously, then surely it would have been a bit more obvious in reprimanding the player for mistakes and helping them out?
However, as mentioned, apart from losing points there's no punishment from the narrator at the end of a botched mission. Every ending cutscene is executed flawlessly, making 47 look badass and professional however badly the hit went off. Being spotted or killing innocents is never punished, and now matter how many people you slaughter, the only thing the game does to punish you is to withhold a few rewards and give you a bad score - and even then, many of the rewards are gained by killing targets in interesting ways, not by being silent.
This laissez-faire style of communicating to the player also preserves the image of 47 as the perfect hitman no matter what you get up to during a contract. The game takes what you did and presents it as a perfectly-executed hit. Again, this is what makes Hitman so hilarious at times.
During the Paris mission, for example, I decided to escape using an underground tunnel, but one of the chefs spotted me and started shouting. As the cutscene started and the triumphant music blared, 47 swaggered out of the building, while in the kitchen behind him the cook was asking who he was and why he was there to begin with. Perfectly executed.
In the Marrakesh mission I decided to push this joke as far as it could go while still executing the hit. This inevitably took me into the army-controlled school, running around with a wrench and dodging gunfire as I clobbered anyone close by. Once I hit one of the targets, the narrator said "Good work 47, one target left." and 100 corpses later, 47 flees the scene smoothly, as if it went off without a hitch.
If Hitman had the comedy aftertaste of a franchise like Saints Row or Grand Theft Auto - if you were encouraged to go nuts without thinking about the consequences - then the fun would wear off quickly. But since Hitman makes 47 out to be the perfect assassin and doesn't respond to blunders and butchery - like beating up a butler, stripping him, and dragging him down a flight of stairs - it creates a game with a dark, yet slapstick sense of humour that seems pretty intentional.
This is why I love the Hitman franchise. Even though the people you're killing are 'bad guys', the subject matter can get pretty dark. Yet you have the option to fumble your way through a mission like a bald Captain Quark; the absurd nature of the situations that 47 gets himself into only serve to make the game all the more entertaining. And sometimes, it's downright hysterical.
Do you agree with Sam on this one? Does Hitman provide moments of comedic genius? Have you got any of your own crazy assassination stories to tell? Grab the nearest blunt object and head into the comments section below.