Why the Hong Kong remakes in Contracts were my least fav levels ever

Continuing the discussion from How did you get into Hitman?:

Hidden Valley was terrible execution and largely pointless, but it was at least an experimental level that tried to build up on framework set in Codename 47. It took the challenge of moving across a wide open area from Find the Uwe Tribe, and added elements such as moving vehicles and snipers on watch. Plus there was the “outsnipe the sniper” game you could play to try to get yourself a sweet silenced sniper rifle.

Compare this to Slaying the Dragon. It is literally a a complete recycle of the story, premise and characters from the very first mission in Codename 47 - but throws out everything unique about it in order to create a generic Silent Assassin level.

Kowloon Triads at war was simple, beautiful introduction to both the world and the mechanisms of Hitman. It has the obvious plan (sniper from the roof) where there was an unexpected twist (the helicopter) but also other methods available if you wanted to try them (including snipe, then snipe the helicopter gunner and grab his M60 if you wanted to go on a killing spree).

Instead of building that premise, Contracts threw it out the window. Now the relatively routine meeting which had fairly low security, indicating the relaxed feel of Hong Kong at the time - is in the most depressing park ever invented, has snipers hanging around it because… paranoia, and despite the fact that everyone and their dog know to stay away from the triads - there’s a garderner outfit.

Because now all hits should be performed through the use of obvious disguise and either fibrewire or some gimick such as poison or a car bomb - but do it with an SA and we’ll give you a gun that you won’t use because you don’t use guns.

The whole thing is a complete waste of everyone’s time.

Also, the briefing was ruined the story too. In the original briefing you’re starting a gang war because Lee Hong is entirely too powerful to confront directly, you need to create the circumstances by which his assassination becomes possible. In Contracts you’re doing it because the client wants you too and 47 is just so badass that you hire him to wipe out entire triads.

Hidden Valley very quickly becomes a waste of time, but it at least tried something interesting and didn’t try to ruin the original game.

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I agree that, in many ways, the remade missions from Hong Kong did not live up to the original ones, by all the points you brought up.

However, I think it is an exaggeration to claim they were the worst levels ever, specially since Absolution was released. I can understand that you might prefer Hidden Valley or At the Gates over the Hong Kong remakes, but would you also prefer stuff like “Countdown”, “Absolution”, and even the badly design of “Say hello to my little friend” and “Plutonium runs loose” over those remakes? And how about completely pointless shit like “End of the road” and “one of a kind”?

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All those levels blow Hidden Valley and At the Gates out of the water though…

Not ALL the Hong Kong remakes were inferior.

Even though Slaying a Dragon and The Lee Hong Assassination were inferior to their C47 counterparts, I feel that The Seafood Massacre and The Wang Fou Incident in Contracts are much better than the corresponding C47 levels.

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All but Countdown. That one’s just horrible and there’s already a topic about it aswell. I consider it to be the most awful level in the entire series. Hidden Valley is a masterpiece compared to Countdown!

Countdown was pretty bad, but it has the advantage of being really short. I’ve rushed through it in no time and never bothered to give a damn about it since. Hidden Valley though… let me just tell you that I’ve once literally had a dream about being sent to Siberia and everything looked exactly like that level :>

As for At The Gates, it’s pretty much a cover stealth mission, and with Hitman 2’s sneaking mechanics, it’s not hard to imagine what that entails…

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I can’t really fault them for making Slaying a Dragon more complex than Kowloon Triads, which was a simple introductory mission meant to ease players into Codename 47. With Contracts’ forgiving gameplay mechanics (even on Professional), a straight remake would have been ridiculously easy, especially for one of the last levels in the game. The atmosphere is pretty depressing and much less interesting than the original’s, but it was kind of forced by Contracts’ premise.

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I remember reading somewhere within the old forum that the depressing and rainy atmosphere might not really be from the missions themselves, but are instead an alucination from the rainy weather outside of 47 hideout, which got mixed with his flashbacks.

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The remade level is still ridiculously easy though…

I would probably not rush to play any of these, in fact I would probably not voluntarily rush to play any of the levels in Contracts other the The Meat King’s Party.

However, Countdown and Absolution, failures that they may be - are again at least an attempt to do something interesting and they also don’t outstay their welcome. In Contracts there are four of these things in a fucking row and they all have the same problems and all expect you to take your time, explore, look for non-sense solutions like the Garderner disguise or the rat poison in the sewer etc

Say Hello To My Little Friend is actually kind of cool if you look at it in terms of the climax level and remember that C47 had a completely different set of rules of engagement to the rest of the series. End of the Road is likewise, a kind of interesting attempt to play with characterisation and allowing players to have a sandbox where they can play with many toys,etc. (And you can finish it in like 10 seconds if you’re not interested) One of a Kind is just bonus chucked in for story and for players who want to get nostalgic and play with stuff (and doesn’t take any real amount of your time)

Plutonium Runs Loose - again, a little experimental. It also had the bonus thrill that clearing the ship felt a lot like the action climax of the Usual Suspects and it made you work for it if you wanted to recover the letter off Arkadij’s body.

Contracts remakes of Hong Kong however, are four levels in a row of horrible imaginings of levels that were memorable and great in their first incarnation and now filtered through a generic Silent Assassin 2 filter and painted black to speed up production time. They added nothing but they greatly diminished the levels they were based off.

Why were they better? Seafood Massacre no longer is a discreet meeting in a quiet, out of the way and easily overlooked restaurant; nor is it any longer a homage to the pivotal scene in Godfather where Michael Corleone gets his hands dirty to protect his family.

It’s just a generic Silent Assassin mission but everything is dark and boring, and the restaurant interior makes me want to gouge my eyes out. Likewise the Wang Four Incident didn’t add anything other than generic Silent Assassin features.

They all just crammed levels that were built for a different dynamic into the Silent Assassin box and tried to make them edgier by making everyone a jerk.

The problem with the atmosphere in the Hong Kong remakes is that they lack contrast. The Meat King’s Party uses contrast of the decadence of the party to the despairing emptiness of the meat factory and the darkness of the brother’s serial killer lair. It uses color theory to that makes the guests pop out of the scenery and gives different moods to different areas and it uses the contrast of how we would react to being told our mission to rescue a little girl is now a mission to avenge her against how 47 reacts.

The Hong Kong missions are just all dark grey and black, there are no cracks of light or warm moments. Lei Ling (who they didn’t even remember the name of properly) is no longer a character with personality who rescue so she can go on to better things - she’s a shitty stereotype who regrets she can’t give you a quickie (and we know will go straight back to the same bad habits - but that’s Silent Asssassin’s fault). Agent Smith is no longer a fellow operative from a different firm, who just happened to be not quite as badass as you but is still tough as nails - he’s a comparatively incompetent asshole who they keep in grey room hoping the bordedom will drive him insane.

There’s no escalation anymore. In C47 the first level has a security team for the Blue Lotus, but Lee Hong’s representative walks there alone and we get the feeling the security is there just to stop interruptions for clueless tourists. Contracts starts us with having sniper security in place because… well there were buildings so let’s put something there.

It’s just boring and depressing and I can’t feel anything when I play them other than contempt for the levels.

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@Jarbringer: I don’t know man… I liked the interior of the seafood restaurant. And I liked the fact that they had additional ways to assassinate your targets. In my opinion that makes those levels better than C47 ones.

For example in the C47 Wang Fou level, the only way to kill the targets (without going on a rampage) was to plant a bomb and exploding the car when it got near the last 3 blue lotus members. You might say it’s a “classic” or “iconic” way of killing them, but it’s just one way and the Contracts version offers more variety. Same for the Seafood Massacre.

I thought that the dark and moody exteriors contrasted nicely with the warm and comfortable interiors of the restaurant and that is actually a good example of level designing. Plus, again, more ways of taking out the targets (going in as the chef, going in as the red dragon member, sniping, etc.).

So yeah, I’d say these two levels are better in Contracts. But I agree with you that the C47 versions of Kowloon Triads and Lee Hong were vastly superior.

I come at this from a different perspective as Contracts was the first Hitman game I played, so the idea of these levels being remakes only entered my mind after getting my hands on C47. After playing both, I see the inevitable comparison one must make, though the Hong Kong missions in Contracts generally suffer from the unpolished nature of the game itself.

IOI tried to make it different as part of the whole flashback theme, and I don’t mind what they went for in terms of atmosphere and design. Still, I think the only HK mission Contracts did better was the Seafood Massacre, and it didn’t deviate much from the original, but rather cloned it & tweaked a few things. Sure, we all have our tastes, but I simply found myself enjoying it more than the C47 counterpart.

However, C47’s HK missions were much better gameplay-wise; they were presented as a complete package, marking your entry into the Hitman experience with a solid learning curve. Contracts tried to recycle them into something they weren’t really meant to be. I still had fun with them though, but remaking them didn’t seem necessary at all.

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What’s sad is that the wang fu remake is better than C47. It’s still not very good. 1/2 the restaurant is dark and completely unguarded. Why would a triad restaurant ever be that unguarded lol.

The thing that saddens me the most about those Hong Kong levels is that… they actually look pretty amazing, at least the outdoor areas. The neon lights, the skyscrapers, the rain, the cool graphical effects - it all gives those levels that awesome Blade Runner vibe that just really makes me want to play them again. I would love to do that, if only they were better levels…

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Well even though i don’t agree with you, it was still a good read. It gave me some things to think about when it comes to the remade levels of Codename 47. I still find the original superior, however Contracts levels will always hold a warm place in my heart. I’m not sure if anyone asked about your feelings on Beldingford Manor and Asylum Aftermath?

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I feel that the major problem with Beldingford Manor is the lack of direction in the design.

It’s a unique level in that it’s the one that demands physical stealth straight up - but it was sadly very lacking in direction. You’re there primarily to do a rescue of someone who’s been kidnapped so he can be hunted like a fox, but there’s no clear reason why they can’t just send cops or why they need 47’s scalpel touch. Unlike the Meat King, your target is alive and sees your face… but is somehow able to get away immediately with no help.

The layout of the map had lots of interesting pieces and certainly rewarded exploring, but did not provide a clear narrative of where to go if you wanted to get shit done (I always do my first playthrough with the intent on getting the job done) and was unfamiliar in that it was all hostile until you got a disguise.

Asylum Aftermath struck me as a very redundant mission. There is no target, it didn’t mesh well with the previous games (which depicted 47 as bloodily and brutally disposing of SWAT guys) and it introduced the game by not giving you a target to assassinate. It didn’t really function as a tutorial, it just sort of was there to remind us 47 was made in an asylum basement and to use more sci-fi horror imagery.

I mean both levels had potential, but they struck me as very thrown together (not surprising given the short dev time) and I didn’t really find them that engaging because of it. Most of the replays I did of both were due to other people pointing stuff out and me deciding to go see it for myself.

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Aftermath I 100% agree. That whole thing could have been a cut scene. But I did like the manor level. I am with you that the back story lacked a bit. They could have easily explained that local police wouldn’t go near the manor because alisters dad (can’t remember his name) was a Lord who controlled the courts or something like that, but even though physical stealth is a must I was ok with it. I’m all over this forum always saying anything is ok ONE TIME. So for contracts that one level you could not be seen until you got a disguise… Well the last one too but that’s different BC they know you’re there and hitman has a history of making the last level different and more of a shooter level.
I liked it though BC of the lack of direction. A true sandbox.

If i’m not mistaken the Beldingford Manor is not on the main land, but an island. This could be why cops are not the solution. It would also explain why 47 arrives by boat.

I’ve always felt that the guards and security personell in hitman levels seem to have an attitude of don’t call the cops over anything we cant handle ourselves.

Right, and they wouldn’t call the police anyway, mainly because the people that 47 kills are pretty rotten, and I highly doubt that a lot of these criminal masterminds would willingly decide to call the police, potentially risking their entire operation, over just trying to deal with 47 using their own resources.