The Politics Of Hitman


#513

Morally ambiguous target =/= someone’s innocent grandma. I believe you can still have prominent, high-profile targets who don’t just club baby seals in their spare time. Sometimes the hit could be assigned based on the clients own selfish desires. I think the best example from the recent games is in A House Built on Sand, where 47 is hired to resolve a dispute between rival construction companies. There’s some actual intrigue there, making you question whether Kong and Mendola deserved their fate.


#514

Kong definitely deserved his death, Mendola did not and IO made sure you specifically felt that way.

Kong is alluded to being crooked, he is willing to destroy a heritage city block for profit and treats the party’s wait staff like ass. He also engages in a typical “Westerners are greedy pigs” rant.

Mendola is timid, he is shown to naive to an insane degree, he only felt stiffed by his firm, and even worse (narrative perspective) his bio goes out of the way to say he has a family. It is tacked on the end of his bio and it is never given a strict mention in the level.

And there are. De Santis is not evil she is doing her job and her paranoia is justified. Caruso is a psycho who killed his mother, keeps DNA of his co-workers for leverage and aims to kill his former bullies even though they have reformed or even forgot about him.

Dino Bosco is an ass but did not deserve to die for his art or for being an ass. His only negative trait is his general asshole behaviour. Stemming from his ego, a life of privilege and his perfectionism.

Penelope Graves was also innocent. She saw a system that was broken and set out to fix it. She was then sacked and resorted to joining the Militia and I am sure she disagreed with Sean’s methods. They even mention her potential to recruit her for the ICA but we miss out on some Dishonored style alternate option in order to perpetuate the “innocent or guilty” aspect of her character.


#515

He is largely the exception and Contracts was both Hitman’s “edgiest” title and also it’s least well performing one (along with the ambiguity that since it’s 47’s dream sequence… that one might never have happened… it’s a mess).

The Swing King was a man who had evaded justice for gross negligence that led to many deaths, then assisted a violent gang by letting them up a drug lab in the remains of his amusement park. A gang, I might mention, which had a member who wanted to burn a lawyer alive just on some sort of delusional power trip. He was pathetic, but he was also without morality and the mission was supposed to be arranged by The Franchise (hence why Parchezzi is

The reporter and the priest were essentially in the wrong place at the wrong time, much like the courier - which was largely to match Blood Money’s weird intro about how 47 will always get his target not matter how much collateral damage he needs to cause (even though players were encouraged to go for zero collateral damage).

Kind of - the Gators for instance, read as low level thugs in the context of the boat but were actually all supposed to be lieutenants in an impressive cartel. Those and the rival assassins though don’t really fall into morally ambigious or innocent by any stretch - they’ve basically consented to the risks by opting into the life of organized crime.

A large part of that is probably because people like to see a badguy go down and they like to know the important information - Diana relays it to the player so everyone gets it and starts getting emotionally invested in the outcome. From there, they can mess with that later - some playthroughs of Club 27 can leave you hating Jordan Cross more, some can leave you feeling sorry for him.

De Santis is a cut-throat corporate climber who thinks nothing of creating an assassination virus purely to please her employers and secure her next big thing - that’s pretty evil and she has no real explanation for it other than she will do anything to advance herself.

Caruso is a guy who poor health and being bullied as a child warped him into a monster who now is using a massive corporation’s funding to allow him to exact terrible revenge upon people who made his childhood miserable - that’s also overtly evil but more sympathetic.


#516

No it is not. De Santis’ meeting with the detective clearly states that the “bullies” he is targeting have fully moved on from being bullies and settling down as normal people. Caruso has even suggested giving the DNA specific virus to ANYONE which is just as bad Ether who have been implied to put a hefty price tag on the virus and pawn it of to first world peoples. In my eyes both Caruso and Ether’s reasons for the virus are both evil, I see Caruso as being a hypocrite as well. He was bullied for all his life and the first thing he does with newfound power? Bully his own bullies and enabling others to do the same. To me that makes him worse.

He may have my sympathies for his abusive childhood, he has my sympathies for being bullied all his life and he has my sympathies for lacking the will to stand up for himself but I
will never ever think his use of the virus as anything other than a shallow abuse of power.

You are right there, it has just been so incredibly long since I played WoT and I have forgotten most of De Santis’ as a cut-throat climber character. She has that thing some targets have where she is developed as a character but you interact with her in such radically different ways to how she is described.


#517

Like a lot of ego maniacs - Caruso credits himself with the ability to grow and become more than he was a child - but not others. Of course, he also refuses to acknowledge the ways in which he has failed to grow - even with the help of a therapist.

He is irredeemable, but he is a monster with a sad story so that makes him a bit more interesting. His idea of his exceptionalism and right to break any rules he pleases also makes him a pretty good representative of Providence in many ways.

It largely depends on how you review it or take it - De Santis is the one who is still in the dark on a few issues and who is more socially adept. So she can see more human if you say, pretend to be the golf coach or overhear her conversation with the detective - however she really has no qualms with the project and on real interest in it beyond her own advancement. When she talks to her lover, it’s to warn him that he’s in danger simply by being with her so he won’t turn on her if something goes wrong… and when she talks with the detective she’s outraged in the same way she would be if she found him embezzling.

Possibly also it could be a little confusing because there is a female lab assistant who is deeply regretful and introspective about the project - the one in the morgue who’s there to say goodbye to the guy who got died in the lab. She’s the type who’s not ruthless enough to prosper and climb to De Santis’ position.


#518

You are right, ultimately I see her as more sympathetic. She is most likely insecure and some of mannerisms suggest this. There is also the fact that she is scientific in contrast to her parents who were artists. She is most likely trying to prove something to her parents and is sharking her way to the top to do so. She though she was willing to do what it takes. Unfortunately whatever it took was designing a supervirus, killing people she had pity for and living a loveless life. It is clear she is reticent about the latter two and is guarded about the former, in fact her true feelings about the virus are unknown. Hell I don’t think she has what it takes to do so.

I disagree with this part only. Caruso has a legitimate reason for being an exceptionalist. He has poor social skills, his comprehension and obsession with science means he alienates himself from “normal people”, he was psychologically browbeaten to loving his mother only and solely relying on her alone and he rarely travels beyond his house. Simply put he does not know any better and never stood a chance. Providence are exceptionalist simply because they are a club of rich people, not even geniuses for the most part. They are rich people or politicians neither are smart people for the most part. Providence is a cross between the Illuminati and a yacht club. They are that way because they just cause.


#519

Happy New Year’s you fools. Politics is ass


#520

Finally this is the most sensible comment on this thread. Only took 166 prior comments but we have one non-the less.


#521

It seems like some of us are making a distinction between implicit politics and intended politics. Surely all art is political and it’s possible to read politics into any element of any of the games. I’ve already written much in my enduring “political correctness” thread about how certain depictions in the games have political consequences. But most of the time— and I think this is what @Franz was trying to say— IOI seems unconcerned with these politics and doesn’t seem to have anything to really say about the political circumstances it depicts.

I’m just about the most pathologically political person I know and I agree that “Murder of Crows” takes place during a political event, but I’ll be damned if I can decipher why it takes place during a political event or what, if anything, IOI is trying to communicate through the congressman character. Sure, I can extract a political message out of it if I strain and bring my own biases into it: something like “politicians are naive and liable to be disposed of when they upset special interests.” But is that enough to call it a political intention or a political game? Sure, in the sense that all games are political. But not when you compare it to the few times Hitman has deliberately ventured into political satire (always in an overt, ham-fisted manner), or compare it to any game made by people who really do intend a political message.

In fact it’s somewhat remarkable how often IOI depicts scenarios and characters with political connotations, only to say nothing about them. Sometimes it borders on poor taste: some critics would argue that depicting a brothel or a strip club comes with an obligation to comment on brothels and strip clubs, lest you normalize or fetishize a certain treatment of women. Playing Silent Assassin, I would be forgiven for believing that UN peacekeepers are incompetent at best and murderous at worst. Is that what IOI intended? I doubt it. They simply don’t care. Someone probably saw an 80s action movie that had UN peacekeepers in it and said, “hey that looks cool let’s put it in the game.”

You might think I’m being uncharitable to say that IOI really doesn’t concern itself with this stuff. But this is actually extremely charitable: the alternative is to hold IOI accountable for all its inadvertent political messaging and to presume, for example, that the gay jokes in Absolution were indicative of actual animosity towards the LGBTQ community.

Edit: I will say the recent games have kind of embraced satire a bit more, especially in NPC dialogue, and could be seen as a broad social commentary much like the GTA series. And “The Ark Society” included some deliberate themes that were downright woke. I guess I’m writing more about the older games and challenging the specific examples Jarbinger has mentioned, and questioning what we’re talking about when we debate whether or not the games should have “politics.”


#522

If there is one thing I am sure of - it’s that this thread has had more than enough of people dropping in to try to clarify what other member said.

I can think of several reasons.

  1. Setting it at a political event allows the designers to front load of a lot of story information by incorporating it into the speech of the politician.
  2. The core story of Blood Money was inherently political, it was about the idea of policing and regulating the concept of science and that was topic because at the time there were regularly articles in the paper about Intelligent Design and where Cloning would go now Dolly the Sheep had passed away.
  3. Hitman, being about assassins, pretty much always has to have a backdrop of criminal conspiracies and secret societies that influence the world. A political assassination certainly accomplishes that and setting it at a political event re-enforces that it’s political.
  4. It being a political event justified the timer (kill the assassin before he kills the politician) and the security in the public venue - as well as lending the whole thing a feeling of stakes.

I really don’t get why people think this is the only way games can communicate politics and political messages. There really are a wide way of communicating it.

Lack of intent doesn’t mitigate the message, though it is pretty a pretty popular political opinion that the UN peacekeeping forces are 1. not peaceful and 2. not effective.

But speaking of methods, we can also apply a method to this known as deconstruction. How would the game have been different if the UN Peacekeepers were highly effective, virtuous and non-lethal?

Firstly, the game mechanics would have had to have been changed, Hitman does not include means for NPCs to non-lethally subdue 47.

Secondly, the entire plot may have been derailed since it hinges on the UN buying twice-stolen nuclear warheads off a guy who is on the FBI’s most wanted list and lives in underground bunker where he tortures people.

So the entire plot of that arc of the mission hinges on the idea that the UN is not particularly efficient at maintaining international law, and not particularly effective at what they do in general - thus facilitating 47’s amazing feats of espionage.

Did the guys in the writing room go “Fuck the UN, let’s show them as stupid”? Almost certainly not. But they did create a piece of media that reflected a specific lack of faith in the UN peacekeeping forces - particularly at Afghanistan in a post-911 world.

There is a similar vote of no confidence in the US political system in that there is a Senator being manipulated by a pornographer who facilitates the worst vices of the senator’s son, and again when the whole conspiracy ends up resorting to just kill the President because then the un-elected Vice President will do what we say (not dissimilar to the attitude in the Netflix version of House of Cards).

Personally I find the argument between Diana and Olivia to be amazingly “woke” - particularly since IO Interactive is one of the rare studios that has hired black women to voice the black women characters.


#523

When Diana said “The ICA is Neutral, it does not take sides” and Olivia replied with “Neutrality is a side. It’s the side of the status quo” – It’s like she’d been reading Hitmanforum or something. I really liked that line. Shame Olivia didn’t have very much to do in Hitman 2.

Also, Zero Political Opinions present in this in-game Newspaper.


#524

i just noticed the “opinions now more valuable than facts” thing today. thought it was relevant here :^)


#525

On the topic of Morality, I’d say the Yardbirds hit is a bit grey, as yes, you’re killing criminals but only so another can get a paycheck


#526

And to service the whims of a master criminal so technically it is still a black area. The only thing that stopped Kovac was the fact that he was arrested trying to launder the money. Doubly ironic it was because of his ineptitude with technology which Kalvin tried to avoid.


#527

I still like the simple politics of 'House built on sand"

a treacherous employee is selling secrets to a corporate rival-kill them both and get the info.

same for ‘Landslide’ and the one where the movie studio hires you to kill the director.

I like the simple money motivated killings-less of the high brow Illuminati stuff.

gimme more cut and dry corporate murder.

Personally could do with more bankers as targets. Strauss was too big-gimmie a simple money manager.


#528

And it’s not like Mendola was a bad guy. Sure, he was a dick, but his only crime was selling out the company that wasn’t using him to his full potential. And Kwang could be bad, but it was all speculation.


#529

Mendola’s kind of interesting to look at in terms of actual consequences and because there’s the factor that his career was pretty much over anyway.

Literally nobody was going to hire the guy who sold his employer’s secrets, particularly since it would probably lead to a lot of disgruntled former coworkers floating about. The guy is a chief-architect and his main complaint is “creative differences”.

So while his “only crime” is turning on the company that failed to utilitise him and provide the opportunities he (probably rightfully) felt he deserved, he was basically putting himself ahead of all his (probably similarly underappreciated) coworkers for a single short term gain.

Kwang is apparently completely comfortable with destroying careers in order to let him undercut the competition, and his profile suggests that he has regularly left a trail of destruction in his ongoing quest to make excessive amounts of money.


#530

Still, they aren’t deranged maniacs or seem to be extremely amoral people. Night Marrakesh also bringed a peculiar target with it’s only ET, Mr. Giggles. You already know that he guy has a “circus” of snuff plays and his conversations on the phone just feed your disgust on how much of a degenerate he is, but what catched my eye was the List of Clients you have to recover from his assistant. I still debate if recovering it was because the client wants to bring all those sick people to justice or the client is in the same business as Giggles (maybe even worst) and the assassination was part of a hostile takeover on a rival business. ETs are a nice source of targets that involve that vibe of ambiguity.


#531

Kind of - having worked in two companies that were liquidated due to poor management and having spent the better part of a decade dealing with managers who never want to give me credit for accomplishments or allow me opportunities - I can sympathise with Mendola to some extent.

However, given that both companies where also heavily hamstrung by embezzlement, deals going sour due to personal interests, etc I would also feel very comfortable classifying Mendola as amoral: he’s basically throwing all his coworkers under the bus into an uncertain future of being potentially destitute so that he can get petty revenge at someone who already pays him handsomely.

With this part, I agree entirely.


#532

I said neither of them are “extremely” amoral. What they do is wrong and no doubt they don’t care about it, but still they don’t seem to me like the kind of people who will feed you to a hippo or get you whole family kidnapped and killed if you don’t do what they say. In fact, I’m more intrigued for Hamilton-Iowe charging this contract and the one for Standberg and Zaydan. Makes me wonder if they have a Friday assembly in the board to decide what “business complication” is getting wasted next.