Body Count Be Damned, Hitman's Elusive Targets Are Terrific

Body Count Be Damned, Hitman's Elusive Targets Are Terrific

I can pass for a level-headed assassin in Hitman most of the time, especially with a little practice. But, when the game gave me an "Elusive Target" who I could only pursue once this weekend, my Agent 47 became a murder version of the Keystone Kops.

Elusive Targets are a much-awaited feature in the new Hitman game, which has been rolling out episodically since its launch in March. They appear at unspecified times in the game, and they're only available for 48 hours. These targets aren't highlighted in Instinct like your usual victims are. You have to locate them using your own knowledge of the level and the little bit of intel you've been given. Once you've killed the target, you can't back out of the level, and if the target flees the level or 47 dies, you can't play the mission again. Unless you Alt+F4 at the right moment, there's no second chance.

For this first Elusive Target, I knew that I was going after a guy named Sergei Larin, an art forger wearing steampunk glasses and a leather apron, knowing only from intel that he'd likely be on the third floor in the Paris level at some point. By the time I started my hunt for Larin late Saturday night, there was already a wealth of YouTube videos and walkthroughs, but I decided to go in blind. There's something about replaying Hitman levels that makes me feel like a time traveller, that I'm even sort of cheating by trying to slickly assassinate someone again. That is nevertheless core to the Hitman experience. With Elusive Targets, I loved thinking that this was the closest the game might come to making me feel like a real assassin.

I've played the game's Paris level a lot, so I guessed that Larin would probably go check out the art in the attic. I started in the kitchen, thinking I could walk upstairs disguised as one of the kitchen staff, but I must have picked the wrong staircase. The guards wouldn't let me up. No problem. I found an alternate route.

Body Count Be Damned, Hitman's Elusive Targets Are Terrific

Nothing to see here. Along the way I fell afoul of a guard and choked him out, then jumped into his suit so I could go up to the attic. Of course, the attic was full of guards, most of whom could see through my disguise. I spent my time ducking behind crates and statues as my suspicion meter ebbed and flowed with guards' patrol patterns. Grateful for 47's strong knees, I crouched and slunk around, waiting. And waiting. And waiting.

Just when I was about to give up, the target appeared. I was so excited that my hunch had been correct that I stood up. My suspicion went off the charts, and Larin breezed out the door while I fled through the attic trying to find a box to hide in.

I did not find a box. I did find more guards.

Body Count Be Damned, Hitman's Elusive Targets Are Terrific

Oops. This is normally the part where I'd save-scum and try to play better, but that wasn't an option. Usually, if I panic in Hitman, I just pull up an old save. That usually helps me keep my cool. But with only one shot at the target, the high stakes frazzled my thoughts.

The guards had to die.

I usually don't kill non-targets in Hitman, but it felt pretty good to take those guards out. And, once I'd shot them, I decided the best course of action — obviously — would be to take out every guard in the area and then just kill the target if he ever came back. So I snuck back into the main part of the attic and headshotted another guard with my silenced pistol. A guard I hadn't noticed spotted him and ran over. I knew what had to happen.

Body Count Be Damned, Hitman's Elusive Targets Are Terrific

I call this "Still Life With Body Bag." And that's how I spent about ten minutes systematically murdering everyone upstairs. I've always scoffed at "kill everyone" playthroughs of Hitman, but it felt pretty good. At one point I shot a guard while he was dragging his dead buddy across the floor. I could almost see 47 frowning at me, but I had to do what I had to do.

Somewhere in this mess of shooting, dragging, and playing dead body Jenga, Larin, the target, wandered back into the room, followed by his bodyguard. They both looked down at me, crouched by a stack of suited bodies. I swear we stared at each other for a moment. Then Larin ran, and I shot his bodyguard in the face and added him to the pile.

Larin had run to the back of the attic to phone for help. I followed him coolly. No, I didn't. In my panic, I tripped over every last piece of art in the level and even smacked into a wall before I managed to stumble through the door and headshot him. Target down.

Then I strolled out the front door of the level like a complete and total badass.

Body Count Be Damned, Hitman's Elusive Targets Are Terrific

Nothing to see here either. Leaving levels suavely is the coolest part of Hitman, but in this case my exit was a cymbal crash at the end of a bad joke. I couldn't stop laughing as 47 casually meandered through the party, his bumbling attic antics apparently forgotten.

My crowning glory:

Body Count Be Damned, Hitman's Elusive Targets Are Terrific

It was nice of the game not to give me a negative score, all things considered. The more smoothly you kill your target, the better your score. After the Elusive Target expired I watched some Let's Plays and saw players infinitely more patient than me pull off slick, high-scores skills. It made me wish I could try the mission again, that I'd been more patient. The once-in-a-lifetime nature of Elusive Targets pushed me to think — and fail — on my feet and encouraged me to try things I'd never done before. The guns blazing route, never my first choice, was a lot of fun, and the nature of the target made what would have been a big Hitman fail into an enjoyable and hilarious adventure.


    Fine. I am not gonna wait till all the episodes are out. I will buy this as soon as I finish Dead space.

      But Dead Space 2?

        I... don't have it. I got Dead Space on Xbox games with gold and playing it xbone backward compatibility.

        Also I heard 2 and 3 aren't as good

          2 is the same just a bit predictable not as bang out of the box. I never finished it.

          3 I have installed but never played.

    I'd agree nothing better then the "suave exit" especially a casual stroll past the guards as they sprint in the opposite direction. I am kind of concerned how my first elusive target will go after reading this haha

    Minus the attic massacre, finding the target played out almost the same for me, I did my usual routine (sneak into the dressing rooms, get the stylist costume, head to the security room in the basement, coin-bait a security guard, head to top floor via pipe, coin-bait suit guard, have almost 100% access), I hunted around for the target, hoping I didn't have to comb the smart guard filled attic, after a fruitless search (and a brief stint as the Sheik guy) I crouched down and started searching the attic and had no luck.

    Then just as I was about to start murderin', the target sauntered past me outside the slave auction room, I tailed him and eventually dropped a chandelier on him in the foyer, taking the poor guard with him.

    The elusive contracts are a good addition, especially with it's whole 'only one chance' angle, I just wonder how this will play out for all those people who are waiting for the whole thing to get a retail release, unless the elusives loop around later on but that kinda defeats the whole 'one chance' thing.

    did it sunday morning. housemate and i knew who the target was already from the office with the boat key and assumed he would be nearby. housemate did the silent assassin route starting as an av guy but i opted for the remote explosive rubber duck and a quick escape. knowing i would only have one shot at doing the mission i couldnt help but make it amusing

    I went straight to the bathrooms to pick up the auction invite which grants access to the upper levels without a disguise and cased the place till I found my target. Once located, I learned his pattern and planned to poison his favourite drink. I waited on the balcony like a stalker until he returned to the room, my heart pounded as his lips pursed against the glass containing the fatal brew. After 2 hours of planning, waiting and watching I was at the climax of my mission. He urked then fell ... but no completion message appeared. His body guard turned around and proceeded to wake the target, asking what happened and if he was ok. Oh, shit, that was not a lethal poison, it was a sedative! In a moment of panic I shed my calm and calculated ways and turned them both into Swiss cheese with a hail of poorly aimed (but thankfully silenced), gunfire. I then calmly exited the mansion with most of my assassin-dignity in tact.

    All these tales of slapstick murder-comedies make me really want to play this now....

    Wow talk about FOMO. No notification on ps4 or anything, you just randomly check the game? Not cool!

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