Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.
The main way I used to play games was via demos on magazine coverdiscs, and the demo I remember most fondly was for Hitman: Codename 47.
It was the Chinese restaurant mission from the game, in which your target arrived at the beginning via a limousine, visited someone inside, and then returned to their car to leave. I spent hours pootling around in the small yet still impressive ‘open’ level, which encompassed the restaurant and a few city streets near it. At the time, in 2000, I was wowed by things I now take for granted, such as being able to go not only inside the buildings but on top of them. There was a nearby tower (which in reality was probably only a few storeys tall, but in my mind is much larger) onto which you could climb in order to get access to a sniper rifle. You could also get onto the roof of the restaurant to find alternate routes inside. I was used to strictly linear shooters and the freedom to go up and over as well as through bowled me over.
Yet I realise now that I never really made use of the freedom. I found a couple of methods I enjoyed and used them on the level again and again. One included garroting the driver while he was doing a wee, stealing his clothes and throwing him down a storm drain, then planting an explosive underneath the limousine and detonating it as the target returned to his car. I don’t know why I was hooked on this – though being fourteen-years-old and being thrilled by the subversive violence of the game probably helped.
Beyond the demo, I don’t think Hitman was actually a very good game. The controls were bonkers. The AI was temperamental. The rules in levels about where you could and could not go were often vague. I think it was Blood Money before developers Io Interactive (mostly) ironed these issues out (before reintroducing the crinkles again in Absolution). I loved that demo though, and it’s still a great little example of the promise of the Hitman series.