Category: Articles

Agent Smith

One of the things I think makes Blood Money neat in respect to Hitman as a whole is the way they use Agent Smith.

Agent Smith is a CIA agent who finds himself stripped down to his boxers and needing to be rescued in every Hitman game. (As a sidenote, I find the amount of male bondage and torture in Hitman games inordinately great. I am sure there is some psychological angle of interest to that, given their target audience of STRAIGHT MALE GAMER.) They don't really go into how these things happen in the narrative, so Agent Smith comes off as a hapless failure of a spy and 47 treats him as such. I personally like to think that this is his specialty, though. I can't see why the CIA wouldn't get rid of him otherwise. Perhaps his allowing himself to be captured so often is a part of his missions. He’s obviously very hardy and can take a beating, although he starts to break down from it in Silent Assassin, taking to drinking on the job and becoming even more of an apparent liability.
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Contracts: The Concept Album

If you ask to most other Hitman fans, they tend not to like Contracts. This makes sense, as it’s atmospherically different from Codename: 47 and Silent Assassin (despite cribbing many of its missions from the former) and the difficulty was brought down quite a bit. In terms of scope, as well, where someone who’d played the other two might expect another epic globetrotting adventure, Contracts was very small and self-contained.

I think it’s sort of interesting that way in that the first two games, sprawling and grandiose with large conspiracy plots, were thematically about the search for self. Throughout Codename 47, as 47 is hired to kill each of his genetic donors off one by one, he’s given information about who they are and where he came from whereas before he knew very little. Silent Assassin follows through on that and 47 briefly tries to come to terms with his place in the world until the brother of one of the dudes from the last game kidnaps the preacher whose church he’s living in and he has to work for the Agency again for them to use their sources for information to find him. ‘Cause Diana loves you, bro, but this ride ain’t free. Read On…

Women of GTA: Asuka Kasen

So GTA gets a lot of shit for being, among practically every other social ill, sexist. And let’s not kid ourselves, it totally is. This is, if you’ll recall, the game where you can fuck sex workers and then kill them to get your money back.

But under that, it also has a lot of really good female characters. (I’m only gonna talk about ones from the III continuity, but IV has some gems as well.) I think sometimes it’s hard to see this because III’s overall tone tends to be outrageous and exaggerated so all of the characters, even moderately serious ones, come off as jokes. But if you look at a Donald Love without the knowledge that he’s a cannibal, you get a different picture and he seems like a ght guy.
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Touchy Feelly

One thing I’ve always thought was interesting about Agent 47’s character is that despite being a master of disguise and able to slip into anybody (or rather any man’s) role in a place, he breaks character when he enters situations where touch is expected.

For instance, in The Bjarkhov Bomb, you have to kill Franz Fuchs, steal his clothes, and then meet with Sergei Bjarkhov. When you do, Bjarkhov greets 47 warmly and expects a hug as if he and Fuchs were close friends. 47 allows this but does not hug back, instead sort of holding his arms out so Bjarkhov, whose own body language indicates that he finds this response unusual, can reach around him.

But most fans remember the part in Codename 47’s Ambush at the Wang Fou Restaurant where 47 is visibly repulsed at Mei Ling, a woman kidnapped and forced into prostitution at Lee Hong’s brothel, kissing him.

As a clone bio-engineered and “raised” in a sterile laboratory with not much in the way of normal human contact, these things make sense. I would not qualify 47’s behavior as full-on social anxiety, just a reluctance to get too close.

Interestingly though, in the remake of Ambush in Contracts, his disgust at being kissed is “retconned” into mild bemusement. Contracts is not strictly a remake though, as the missions cribbed from Codename are misremembered flashbacks, so I think the shudder of revoltion is still canonic. It is intriguing that 47 doesn’t remember being sickened by Mei Ling’s gesture though.

And, you know, it’s hilarious to me that this small detail of his personality is expressed the games, but there’s of course never any game-changing reaction to it. You never get a blown cover because 47’s pulled back from a handshake too fast. That would put a damper on his whole MASTER ASSASSIN THEY DON’T EVEN KNOW IF I FKN EXIST AT ALL I’M THAT DAMN GOOD thing.

Then again, this is a game where a bald white guy can effectively pass himself off as men of various not-white-at-all racial descent so hand-waving, yo.

Vice City Public Radio

One of the best things about any GTA, but especially Vice City, is the radio programming. And one of the best of the stations, I think, is the Vice City rendition of VCPR. Unlike the Stories one, which is modeled more after NPR with varied programming consisting of other discussions shows and recycled radio plays from yesteryear, the original one only had three episodes of one show. Pressing Issues is a roundtable discussion show, sort of like Crossfire, in which radically opposed guests discuss a single subject.

In each episode, three characters are introduced, each based on amalgamations of complimentary 80's events and tropes. In the two politically-themed episodes there's two conservative characters and one liberal. I would guess Rockstar perhaps has liberal leanings anyway, at least in reference to social issues, which is why these episodes usually portray the conservative characters as extremists with hangups that influence their bad ideas (although the liberals are also made fun of, though in a different tone). But it also reflects the overall conservatism of the 80's.

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How to Not Look Guilty of Murder (Particularly When You Are)

So I watch a lot of Investigation Discovery. A shitton. It’s the only thing I turn my TV on for. And I have noticed a pattern of frankly dumb behavior among people suspected (and probably guilty of) killing their relatives. So, while I don’t condone murdering your “loved” ones, if you’re gonna, follow these guidelines make so you don’t rookie mistakes:
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Ken Rosenburg’s Office

Ken Rosenburg, Tommy Vercetti's lawyer, works out of an office in the Hotel Harrison. This building is pretty dull and nondescript compared to a lot of Vice City's other locales. It doesn't have any neon lighting and it's painted, relatively, subdued colors (although they are still unique colors so that the place is easy for the player to remember and find). But then, Ken isn't exactly partial to 80's decor.

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Full Color: Budd Dwyer and His Impact on Journalistic Photography

You have R. Budd Dwyer to thank for color photos in the press being standard.

Budd Dwyer, warning onlookers against approaching him.

I will not hesitate to admit that I have an almost unhealthy interest in death in the media. But my heart rate won’t race for just anything. Anna Nicole Smith did nothing for me. September 11th didn’t even really do it. For me, it needs to be a personal matter, either to me or to the people directly involved.
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August 2022