Here’s the second part of me three part series, looking at the best locations in all of the Hitman franchise, HITMAN – Season 2 aside. If you missed Part One, don’t worry… You can find it right here! For the rest of you, let’s get back to it, shall we?
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – Hitman 2: Silent Assassin
…And what a place to get back to this list with. Over three levels, we explore the famous Petronas Towers (Which, although obvious in appearance are unnamed in game, presumably for legal reasons). Even 47 himself remarks on how impressive the buildings look before entering. We’re here to kill one Charlie Sidjan, on behalf of the US Government; Sidjan hacked US defence systems and obtained a digital key that, if it were given to other missiles, would make the automated defence systems worthless as the missile would register as American and left alone. In addition to killing the hacker, we’re to place a dongle onto Sidjan’s company systems so that defence experts have a backdoor to purge any copies of the code they discover. He’s expected to be working in a personal office just below one of the Petronas Tower lobbies, so it sounds like an easy score in theory… But then again, don’t they all?
The lobby area is busy, even in the late afternoon – There’s various business people and security going about their day, a small pizza place to service the tower’s staff, and the base of one of the tower’s fire response units. I didn’t know it til researching this article, but the in game version is actually really authentic looking to how the Petronas lobbies look in real life; the metal pillars, the wood panelling, and even the weird blue light fixtures are all accurate. This level also made me appreciate how IO Interactive used to go the extra mile for languages and that – although the receptionists speak to you in English, they do so with Malaysian additions. The release of HITMAN – Season One marked the first time that we visited foreign locations and everyone just spoke in a broad American or English accent, even when it didn’t make sense. Thankfully, though, it seems that could be both the first and last time that happens: although we’ve transitioned to mostly English language, Season Two made a compromise and gave everyone region-appropriate accents (Well, for the most part). It’s something, I guess. Anyway…
Long story short, getting into the basement is a hassle and you’ll likely do it by triggering a fire alarm and going down as a fireman. When you’re down there, Sidjan can be found snacking at his desk, half-heartedly working in his messy office. Sneaking up on him requires careful avoidance of the strewn about potato chip bags, or you’ll have to deal with him attempting to alert guards. Once he’s taken care of, you just need to head up to his company offices – Carniwarez Inc. – to set that dongle.
After waiting for it to become late, you take the elevator the rest of the way up, and enter the mostly empty offices of Carniwarez. That’s when two interesting things happen – the first is that you learn that Sidjan has a twin brother – as 47 began to suspect from a photo he found last level. The guy you just killed was Brat Charliego Sidjan, and the brother’s name is just Charlie Sidjan, so there’s a bit of uncertainty as to whether you actually took out the right person. The second interesting thing is that Diana is busy, and you’re temporarily placed with another handler, Clera (She never appears again in the game, nor is spoken about in the franchise). Whilst there doesn’t seem to be any official explanation for Clera, it has been suggested that the exit of the level – crossing the roof of the skybridge connecting the towers – wasn’t obvious, and Diana’s voice actress wasn’t around at the time to record more lines, so they just got another employee to fill in. Makes sense, but honestly, I love that it happened – It helped make the Agency feel like a company, not just… ‘A thing’. Up until Absolution we never even saw other employees of the Agency! There’s also a small fan movement to get her to come back, which could be cool (If Soders survived the Franchise purge in Blood Money, surely she could have, right?). Hitman – Season 3, perhaps?
Anyway. The offices of Carniwarez Inc. are calm, if a a little spooky this late at night. But they’re also pretty easy to do – Really, you just have to get the access from the head of IT (Damaging the webcam will draw him into a vulnerable spot), slap that dongle down, and you’re good to go… And blasting out the window to cross the connecting bridge feels pretty epic. Once you get to the other side through all that wind and rain, you can take a window washing cart up to Sidjan’s penthouse.
The penthouse looks nice – Generically swanky with wood and metal accents, with some eclectic decor, topped with a sexy bodyguard playing piano in the main room. The penthouse is also reasonably well guarded. This Sidjan is very different to his nerdy, mild-mannered brother, although they otherwise look exactly the same – 47 confirms that this does indeed seem like a twin situation, and the Agency confirms the request to assassinate. Just incase. To help cover tracks, the client wants it staged like a failed robbery, because I guess an assassination and a robbery-gone-wrong on the same night is less suspicious or something?
To ace this one, you’re going to abusing line of sight a lot – You have to get into the main room via the balcony, and run towards the doors on the other side, and wait for guards to come out (The open doors should stop them seeing you). Then you can sneak around into the hall before Sidjan’s ‘love nest’ – A bedroom with wine racks, indoor jacuzzi, and vibrating loveheart bed (Yes, you can turn the vibration on and off) – You can sneak in here and hide behind the divider, and wait for his sexy bodyguards go for a collective bathroom break (Understandably – ‘Come girls, make boom-boom with Charlie?’ is not a good pick up line). Choke the playboy, then drag his naked corpse to the door where the girls will re-enter. They’ll walk in, not see the assassin and their dead boss there, and head straight to the jacuzzi – I wonder if they even care their boss is gone? Drag his corpse to the bathroom, leave it, and go sabotage the fuses via the other door on the other side of the hallway. You can then go out in the pitch darkness with less fear as the darkness will severely reduce line of sight, go to the safe behind a very obvious painting, and open it (It was electronic, so now it won’t be locked – That’s why we messed with the fuses). Take the relic inside, and leave via the central elevator, all before the lights come back on.
These series of levels are nice in that they show the best of what old Hitman had to offer, really; cool locations, and a challenge (Well, sans the Carniwarez Inc. offices themselves, at least). That initial lobby is such a pain to get into without alarm, and killing the real Charlie will definitely mess with some inexperienced player’s heads. It’s cool. And that short, evolving story (Which, of course, does connect to Silent Assasin’s overarching plot) was nice as well.
Washington, District of Columbia – Hitman: Blood Money
The (pen)ultimate chapter of Hitman: Blood Money. You’re ambushed directly after A Dance with the Devil – the Agency’s last official contract – by Agent Smith, who has woefully underestimated your relationship as something remotely friendly. Convincing you to spare him, and indeed work for him using Blood Diamonds, you are tasked to save President of the United States Tom Stewart from an assassination plot. The plot has been orchestrated by the Vice President, Daniel Morris, and The Franchise – That rival organisation who has been attacking The Agency throughout the game. The hope is that, in exchange for giving Morris the presidency (Via Amendment XXV, from which the mission gets its name), he will pass the world’s first anti-cloning laws, which will delay research into this field and leave The Franchise the only organisation out there with access to clones. That’s pretty much their whole goal – ‘What Ort-Meyer did, but it’ll work out well, this time!’
The only way to stop all this, in Agent Smith’s mind, is to assassinate the Franchise operative and the Vice President himself. Just a bit of an ask, but apparently those Blood Diamonds will cover it in 47’s opinion.
The White House, as you might expect, is one of the most secure levels in the game, but it’s by no means impossible. You arrive as part of a tour group arriving at the adjourning museum that’s part of the East Wing. There’s a metal detector and a luggage scan, so don’t expect to get anything but your carbon suitcase through this – Instead, if you want to take a gun, stash it in one of the visitor’s suitcases (She’ll be escorted further in to the complex for interrogation, with her suitcase placed nearby that as evidence). Whilst the museum area is pretty (And alarms will trigger should the glass be smashed), and the entrance to the rest of the building looks well covered, there is a pretty easy way to get out of here – Just run straight through to the bathroom on the opposite end from the entrance after the staffer has left it, and hide. If you’re quick, Marines won’t have noticed you’ve gone slightly into a staff only area. Knock the staffer out when he returns, take his uniform, and leave – No-one will ever check the bathroom, and it makes for an easy access to your suit on the way out, too.
The back end of the museum is unimportant, aside from a side room that has the Main Building keycard you’ll need to access the rest of the White House. You may as well disable security here too (That’s right, the White House’s entire video surveillance network is operated from the place that sells commemorative pins!). The patrolling marines are a nice touch to the area, though – Feel free to knock out the one in the crappy garden area on the far right, take his outfit, and continue on through the area. You’ll be in the residential part of the building, the Executive Residence (If you stashed your gun, the visitor will be under interrogation in one of the side rooms). It’s large, and filled with historic Americana appropriate to the real world counterpart, and it has a quiet gloom to it.
This building is also where the First Lady traditionally has her office – So, of course, she is in here too, on the second floor where a lot of renovation work is being done. She’s irrelevant to the mission (And the world at large it seems – In a bizarre oversight, should something happen to her, she’ll be referred to as ‘an innocent bystander’ despite her status). Her small dog, Justice, however, is important – Much to his chagrin, the Vice President has been ordered to walk it, and so will often head between the Rose Garden and the First Lady’s Office. You’ll want to wait for him to drop the dog off, then go into the adjoining (And locked) room to complain and take a call. Your window of time here is super quick – Mrs. Stewart will come for him if he’s late for Justice. Having picked the lock earlier, enter, fibre wire him, stash him in a nearby chest, and you should be good to go without anyone noticing.
Climb onto the roof of the West Colonnade (The connecting hallway from the Executive Residence to the West Wing) and wait behind an air vent against the wall right on the other end. Soon, you’ll see a carpenter – one of several in the West Wing – exit for a smoke break. Throw a coin so he goes around the curve of the Oval Office’s roof, and knock him out. If you want to be extra careful, you can take out the other smoker – a secret service agent – too. Drag whoever you get back to where you were hiding, for reasons I’ll get into later. I recommend the janitor outfit though because that one will have the least suspicion. Simply walk through the West Wing once you’re ready, and enter the Oval Office – Only to be ambushed via the Franchise agent in a cutscene. He detonates a bomb – presumably how he would have killed President Stewart – which knocks 47 over, and causes alarms to trigger throughout the building. Get up and immediately chase after that S.O.B!
He’s going to head up to the roof you just came from, and if you’re quick, you should hopefully be right on his tail. He’s going to run towards the ladder from the Executive Residence you climbed down from earlier, and is going to start a very loud and attention getting shootout (Which Silent Assassins will absolutely want to avoid). If you’re quick as suggested though, you can catch up to him as he’s running to the spot, and fibrewire him. There’s a small chance that an evacuated staffer may notice this, so be careful! Drag him to behind the little woodpile near the stairs, and either jump down into the Rose Garden or go back through the West Wing. The reason you stashed those bodies earlier is, shoot out or not, a guard will come and check out the doorway of the roof, and he can spot your bodies if you weren’t careful earlier. But in this outfit, you can safely make your way all the way back to the museum bathroom, change, and quietly leave.
This level is pretty good – It’s straightforward if you know what you’re doing, yet still feels appropriately epic (To date, the VP of the USA is still 47’s most prominent target). The building is well realised, too – Obviously not everything is exact, but it seems they did a good job getting the most known decor right, the rooms and that seem appropriate… The only thing I didn’t like was the West Wing itself. It felt kind of spartan and had way too many generic looking office cubicles. I mean, I know it’s an office, but surely the US doesn’t have grey separators in its head office..? There’s a few different ways to go about things too, but most will require taking care of Justice and the First Lady in regards to the VP, so it’s not worth it. Same for the assassin – There are sort of ways to avoid the assassin cutscene (You can’t shoot him through the Oval Office windows, they’re bulletproof), but triggering the alarms via cutscene doesn’t affect your score, so better to just avoid the faffing about there, too… And don’t worry about the guards finding the janitor the assassin offed; it’s very unlikely, and even if it does happen, it won’t affect your score. All in all, this level is a nice little way to cap off the (Main) missions of what is a very excellent entry into the series.
St. Petersburg, Russia – Hitman 2: Silent Assassin
Some of you may be surprised by this choice; ‘But Chris, the main St. Petersburg levels are so fucking big and empty!’ And I agree. The main level everyone thinks of when it comes to St. Petersburg in Hitman is indeed overblown, with laughably easy to dodge, slowly patrolling guards, a large detailed building most players will never have to actually enter, and several very empty apartment buildings with many, many flights of stairs. But whilst this is true, so is the fact that the big level is also so atmospheric, and I’m very partial to atmosphere. The station with the lockers, those pillars by the central staircase, the broken escalators, and that little side room with the entrance to the sewers… There’s just something very pleasant about it all. The area is beautifully detailed (For the time), dank, and dark; it is a wonderful contrast to the snowy daylight that meets you outside in the area known as Pushkin Plaza. Many of the buildings out there look really nice too, and reflect pre-Soviet Russia construction well; and the view over the Neva River? Just an added bonus.
But admittedly, the main reason I’m including this location is due to ‘Invitation to a Party’. That level where you must infiltrate the German Embassy, assassinate the defecting Russian General, and steal a briefcase. I played this level possibly the most out of any Hitman level, to be honest; it was the level the developers chose to put out as a demo in one of those old PC Magazine CD compilations. I must have played this like, every day from discovery, until I ended up buying the game proper. So I won’t lie – There’s a lot of nostalgia in this pick.
I used to run from the dock, straight to the far side of the map where the party guest was entering, knock him out, take his invitation (And suit I think, I can’t recall actually ha ha), and walk into the embassy. I’d then sneak off into the corridor at the right side of the lavish mansion, knock out the maid in the north-west room, and wait for the target to come in in search of a flirt. After he was disposed, I’d explore the bottom floors for the Ambassador’s safe, and take a guard outfit so I could search the second floor if it wasn’t there (And thus was on the second floor). The suitcase we’re is locked inside this a safe, you see. After I was done, I exited the building, and headed back to the dock. The Spetsnaz agent that was also hoping to get the suitcase will go out here in an attempt to ambush you, but actually runs from one side of the building before the dock to the other, so it’s pretty easy to miss him; if you’re weapon collecting though, it’s also easy to sneak up on him with the ol’ anaesthetised rag and grab his gun. Either way, you’re done.
The embassy is pretty, and the main ballroom – where all the guests are gathered – is nice. It doesn’t feel like a very big party though; there’s like, what, 8 guests? And a musician on the piano, which always stuck with me as a nice touch. The offices throughout the embassy are nice, but very copy-pasted, with maybe a newspaper moved here or there. The kitchen/garage area is ok, but… There’s really no reason to go there, unless you want to mess about trying to poison the General with a box of chocolates or something, I guess. The patrols of the level are reasonable, but could be tighter; it’s pretty easy to break into the side corridors without anyone seeing. There’s also a ‘secret’ door leading out to a balcony with a sniper rifle, but such a weapon is utterly pointless in this level. Overall though, the level is small, but detailed and fun; a pleasant way to spend 10 minutes or so, especially in the early 00’s.
Regardless of whether you remember St. Petersburg for the Embassy level/the demo, or the two visits to the city at large, if you’ve played Hitman 2: Silent Assassin, you do remember St. Petersburg in general. Not having such an ever-present locale on this sort of list would be odd indeed, I think.
And that’s Part Two of Three! What do you think so far? Surprised by any additions so far? What levels do *you* like? Feel free to tell us in the comments. My colleagues have also previously provided their own best regarded levels in a previous club, if you’re curious, and Luke has also done a full review of Hitman 2 as well. Til next time!