It's difficult to oversell how big a fan I am of the Hitman series of games (specifically, "Hitman 2: Silent Assassin," "Hitman: Contracts," and "Hitman: Blood Money"). My own love affair began with the unforgivably difficult, almost entirely open-ended, inscrutable slaughter of 2002's "Silent Assassin," a game which turned off many of its players (fans and critics alike - myself included) with its tantalizing offering of untold gun-violence kept just out of reach by its mission structure.
I beat the game within months of owning it, chafing under the realistic constraints it placed on weapons usage, doing my best to just kill the fucking target and get out. It wasn't until nearly a year had gone by - and I was faced with a dead spot in the release season for the industry at large - that I fired up H2:SA again, this time merely curious as to how little of the weapons-based violence I could utilize in order to complete the first hit. This would become (for me, and for many others) the beginning of a long and delicious road to mastery of the challenges that would be thrown at us through our addiction to the "Hitman" universe. Getting hooked first by just trying to reach the target without use of weapons would yield a better ranking, as would accomplishing the mission without killing anyone other than your target, until, eventually and inexorably, you are hopelessly addicted, certain of the possibility of the nigh-impossible ranking of "Silent Assassin."
To get SA on a mission meant that you could be neither seen nor heard (including by the victim; if they flinched over their shoulder as you crept upon them with the fiber wire garrote prepped and primed and they saw you for an instant before you strangled them to death, then no SA for you); you left no evidence of your presence beyond a corpse; you subdued no one; you touched no one but your target; and escaped with the same phantasm non-nonexistence with which you arrived.
In H2:SA, this was brutally difficult, requiring endless experimentation, reconnoitering, timing considerations, learning the rules of the geography, the behavioral patterns of your target, endless (and I mean 20-30 hours spent on a single mission) amounts of tireless trial and error, careful experimentation, and practiced study.
Well, the years sure have rolled by at breakneck speed, seeing the unspeakably awesome cinematic sequences and storyline that accompanied "Hitman: Contracts," along with games that many regarded as missteps in the series (such as the XBOX360 release of "Hitman: Absolution," a game which added new narrative wrinkles to the structure, but also included a mostly bastardized level design). Ultimately, the series' last stop in recent history came in 2016, with the release of "Hitman" for XBONE, PS4, and Windows.
Well, my Linux gamers, after nearly a decade of this author having waited patiently for a legitimate release of one of his most favorite franchises in history, "Hitman" has been ported to Linux boxes everywhere.
We will save the details of the port (done by the much-beloved-by-this-podcast Feral Interactive) for a review to run either in later editions of this column or the podcast. What we will say now is that this new pseudo-reboot of the "Hitman" franchise simplifies much of the action, eliminating the need for dozens and dozens of hours of try-and-fail experimentation along the chain towards getting your target dead, and instead relies on an inter-run-conceit that allows you to follow mission tracks that - should you choose to follow them - organize and provide waypoints towards accomplishing your objective along that strategy. Of course, users are encouraged to freestyle it as well, utilizing their own skills and instincts to pull off their own perfect assassinations using their own style and sensibilities. Just the same, a little simplification goes a long way when it comes to "Hitman," and we hope it will make the game appealing to younger generations.
Finally, the game initially runs flawlessly (despite the now-familiar Feral Interactive warning for compatibility problems with our Linux distro and Graphics card), and marks yet another landmark franchise that we no longer have to shirk from when recommending friends to make the switch to Linux. So get your fiber-wire ready, friends: "Hitman" is here at last! Shhhhh.