I’ve been putting a bunch of time into Hitman 3 since it launched a few weeks ago. It’s very good, if a little too heavy on storytelling, but I can’t help but cringe a little every time I’m asked to follow an NPC up or down a flight of stairs.
Hitman 3 anti-hero Agent 47 is a genetically enhanced chameleon who can do everything from killing political figures to performing intricate drum solos, often so perfectly that no one around him has any idea he isn’t who he’s pretending to be. Unfortunately, this gift can also be a curse; Agent 47 is so good at climbing stairs that he often leaves targets he should be following at a safe distance in the dust.
At various points, Hitman 3 asks players to follow mission-critical characters who are either unaware of Agent 47’s presence or simply leading him to another part of the level for a story event. This is completely fine if you’re on flat ground, since Agent 47 matches NPC walking speeds perfectly with a simple tilt of the control stick (avoiding an evergreen gaming issue where NPCs always seem to travel at a clip somewhere between the player’s walking and running speeds). The same can’t be said when stairs are involved.
As soon as Agent 47 moves from the floor to a flight of stairs, his base walking speed increases enough to be noticeable, especially when you’re in the middle of a conversation with a butler leading you to the room where you’ll assassinate his employer. This turns what would be a normal jaunt into an awkward ballet of trying to keep up with the NPC while not surpassing them. And god forbid you bump into them during these moments, which will often bring them to a confused standstill for several seconds.
Hitman 3 is so capable of devolving into unmitigated wackiness that I try to play missions as straight as possible my first time through. I sneak, I observe, I operate with tactical efficiency. This naturally extends to interactions with NPCs, where I try to keep Agent 47 from doing silly stuff like walking in circles, even if those kinds of actions won’t actually tip them off to your agenda. But when it comes to stairs, it’s almost impossible to maintain this personal goal of normality.
“OK, the shaved head, barcode tattoo, and inconsistent British accent are understandable,” I imagine NPCs thinking, “but why won’t this monotone private detective just walk up these stairs normally?”
I’m going to come right and say this is absolutely a “me” problem. I have a habit of giving way too much attention to small, insignificant aspects of art, and Hitman 3 is an unquestionably fantastic video game despite this one quirk. It’s just weird that a game that’s so cinematic in just about every other way drops the ball when it comes to what are essentially “walk and talk” segments.
If Agent 47 can lead a yoga session, work on a cutting-edge racecar, perform a tattoo cover-up, and paint a suitable portrait for an egotistical movie director, he should almost certainly be able to maintain his walking speed on staircases.