Hitman’s Showstopper (IMPACT Series)

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The Showstopper – Hitman (2016)

Welcome to the IMPACT series where I dissect notable and iconic sequences from games and movies, and how they broadened my mind and left a lasting impression on me, years to come. 

I will leave you to prepare 47 …

The Backdrop.

The very first mission in Hitman (2016) soft reboot, not only showcases the game’s engine and intricacy, but also a wholly new environment that has never been explored in many mediums; a fashion show.

It serves as a centrepiece of sorts for the game and series, the sandbox in which you can assassinate your targets is rich, layered and multi-faceted. It is extraordinarily detailed, allowing you to explore the environment at your leisure and have fun devising the most devious methods to assassinate your opponents.

Agent 47 himself is an extension of subtlety, ingenuity and minimalist work. He doesn’t run as quickly, his movements are stiffer and more measured than other notable 3rd person characters. His uniform is iconic and stylish, the red tie indicating his profession without giving too much away.

Many of the best methods of assassination involve lots of preparation work, for a pay-off that is addicting and gratifying to see how “accidental” their death seems. It is notable that the game seems to punish you for shooting everything in sight, because beyond the deduction in score, even the shooting mechanics are stiff.

You are an assassin, not a murderer. You can’t randomly murder a model or knock out a security guard without someone spotting you at a public event.

This level also establishes the Hitman franchise’s central theme.

High-Class.

From the UI (User Interface) to the music, the game oozes style and elegance, with its minimalist colour themes, layout and wording. This generates a sense that you are smarter, more lethal and devious than the people within the game universe. Like an apex predator, amongst the elite of the world.

The Parisian setting is what truly sold me on the game. I could not have thought of a better location to soft-reboot the franchise. The mansion is beautifully detailed and wonderfully thought out, with its cellars, balconies and exquisite garden. The dressing room feels accurate and the sheer varieties of uniforms that you can adopt, only creates a more immersive feel.

Even the music in the backdrop, is designed to be as immersive as possible, giving a dark twist to the usual techno/house music often heard on runways.

Everything about this level, sold Hitman as a high-end franchise, with more nuanced gameplay rewarding players for their ingenuity in crafting truly clever assassinations.

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Would you like some emetic rat poison garnish with that cocktail sir?

The Impact.

So why do I love this level so much?

To start, it was one of the most immersive levels, I had ever experienced in games. The setting was so incredibly rich and detailed, that it made other levels in the same game, didn’t quite measure up to the scope and depth of Showstopper.

I absolutely loved the entire package of the level. The music in particular had me hooked and fascinated with how the fashion world operated. I loved diving into the behind the scenes with the make-up and clothes department, the audio-technical staff that operated the rigging above and seeing the targets interact in the environment.

The crowd, the noise, the overall vibe felt accurate and realistic, and I couldn’t believe how expansive and detailed the actual mansion felt when walking through the halls and rooms.

The entire concept of a spy ring operation at the height of fashion, felt novel and unique, and I’ve yet to really find another level that really encapsulate how modern Hitman feels.

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Gucci Spring Summer 2020 Fashion Show

The Enrichment.

So, what did I take away from this level?

A new-found fascination with luxury and fashion of course.

I was so entranced by the high end world of luxury fashion, that I immediately began to research more. I wanted to know more about the real world’s most luxurious clothing, and chase down more of that dark house music I heard in the game.

I started to watch more fashion shows on Youtube, entranced by the bizarre rotation of clothes, models and music, all of it entirely superficial and extravagant.

The Showstopper level, didn’t even scratch the opulent insanity that some of these shows operate normally.

The fashion world is such a bizarre mix of contemporary art, hedonistic desires and superficiality. It has depth, yet completely lacks it.

It treats models like goddesses, yet they are nothing more than clothes hangers, with their body shapes designed to be as androgynous as possible, yet overwhelmingly feminine.

It’s like the ultimate definition of contradiction.

Beautiful yet ugly, artistic yet tasteless, deep but utterly shallow.

I can’t tear my eyes away from it all.

I appreciate the spectacle, the luxury, the work and the “event” of it all, but I can never really feel like I can look past how hollow it all seems.

And I got the Showstopper level to thank for all this genuine fascination and exploration.

Thanks to the game, I’ve discovered a whole new world, that I always knew existed but never really acknowledged.

Having dove relatively deep into it, all I can say is, it must be a uniquely freeing sensation, artistically and stylistically, to be fully immersed in a world free of common problems like rent or mortgages or paltry incomes.

There is a reason why these people are completely detached from the normal world, and why in a lot of ways we look up to them, for the same reason they look down upon us.

They inhabit this heightened reality, where everyone is beautiful, everyone is perfect and everyone has these dark desires to create that manifest itself in fashion and “wearable” art.

I will also say this, the trance utilised in runway shows, are absolutely my kind of electronic music, with its bizarre atmosphere and use of thumping beats.

That is something, I wholeheartedly endorse. More of that please.

If you want to see more, I do recommend the Versace Youtube channel, in particular their Fashion Show videos.

It’s makes for compelling viewing with the music, the models and the clothes on display if I am honest.

Almost as if you are vicariously living the luxury lifestyle through the screen.

There is a definite desire to attend one of these shows, although with my lack of funds, my average looks and soldierly outlook on life, I’ll probably stick out worse than a hitman who just knocked out a waiter with a wrench.

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Oh behave, 47 … 

The Culmination

Showstopper not only sold me on the game, and restored some faith in the Hitman franchise, after the misfire that was Absolution (2012), it also opened up my eyes to the fashion world.

I must thank the developers for their research and their ability to create such an immersive experience, that it instantly made me want to go explore more of that world.

The Showstopper was an authentic Hitman experience, because it finally went back to the franchise’s roots with expansive, detailed levels and multiple methods to assassinate targets. The sandbox felt massive, creative and fun, and the setting was so deliciously appropriate to the style and world of Agent 47.

It was also an inspired choice, as the fashion world is endlessly fascinating with all its contradictions and what better place for a Hitman to blend in, than a runway show?

And that is how Showstopper made me explore a world than I had previously never regarded.

IMPACT

~ Damocles. 

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