TRON: Legacy (IMPACT Series)

Flynn’s arcade.

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. 

The Grid. A digital frontier

The Backdrop

Tron: Legacy, isn’t one of those films that I consider “great.”

But, admittedly, I am a huge fan of it, because I changed my mindset about what films can be, and I’ve decided that, this wasn’t a film, it was a music video.

So with that mindset in place, I announced proudly to myself to the critics and audience that disliked it, that this film is the greatest music video ever made.

Coming out in relative obscurity, in 2010, Tron: Legacy was … admittedly always destined to fail. Almost no-one had any memory of the original made in 1982 (I know I certainly didn’t) and poor marketing ensured that this sequel was underwhelmed at the box office. The Tron fanbase was always niche, so effectively, this sequel felt like the first film for a lot of people.

So what captivated me to see it?

The directing, if I was honest.

Joseph Kosinski craftmanship, and cool colour grading to the “real world” grabbed me from the very start and hooked me in. The boys at my favourite Youtube channel, RedLetterMedia described it best, in their Re:View, “if David Fincher directed a corny Disney movie.”

I particularly remember the transition shot of Sam Flynn riding away on his bike, and the shot of him weaving through traffic and the brief chase sequence between him and the police.

Tron Legacy may not have the greatest plot, dialogue or character development, but its’ art style and world, film direction and music makes it captivating watching.

Just look at the art direction … disc wars, neon, gladiatorial arena, everything is so stylish compared to the original Tron in 1982.

The Impact.

The complete redesign of a lot of iconic aspects of the original Tron was for the betterment of the film. Recognizers, Light Cycles, even the actual suits underwent complete overhauls that truly made Tron a fresh and exciting film to see on screen.

Everything had such a unique sterile, clean and strong aesthetic, with the use of neon light blues and orange reds allowing vehicles, suits, and buildings to have a clear outline, while appearing slightly transparent.

The darkness that surrounded Tron‘s world was never too dark, the world achieving more character with clouds and fog, and allowing vehicles like the original Light Cycle to cut through cinematically.

Glass, and liquid seem to meld beautifully together, especially with the liquid like trail that shot out from behind the Light Cycles or how programs when they “derezzed”, seemed to shatter into million of pieces of glass.

CGI, in a film, tends to age horribly. Tron Legacy’s visual effects remain excellent even today, a trend I noticed that is common with a lot of music video films. Their score, art design, special effects and overall direction seem to last the ages. Look no further than Blade Runner.

However, what truly sold the film, was Daft Punk’s score. Easily one of the most anticipated aspects of the film, as it heralded the return of the legendary French electronic duo.

Simultaneously epic, orchestral and pulsating electronic, the score is phenomenal in how it handles the emotions on-screen, and accentuates action sequences.

Heavy use of non-traditional synth with sweeping orchestral sounds ensured that Tron Legacy’s score will never fade away into obscurity. To say that I’ve listened to this score over 500 times from end to end, is probably not an exaggeration. It has everything I’ve ever really wanted in a soundtrack.

Also equal importance is to note Disney’s role in this film, which was minimal, as they themselves, seem to know what a niche IP this was for them. Whilst, I am saddened by the news that this franchise never seemed to take off, (even with recent news that a Tron 3 is in development), the film itself warrants repeat viewing, my eyes often wishing they could soak a bit longer in the world.

Light cycles are simply right up there with one of the coolest movie vehicles ever designed.

The Enrichment.

Before Tron Legacy, I was never really into electronic music, the current trend at the time, being too generic and loud for my taste.

However, with the discovery of its’ score, I wanted to delve further into Daft Punk‘s work.

And what a source of music it was.

I ended up downloading every single album I could find of theirs, poring over Homework, Discovery, Human After All, and soon to be released was Random Access Memories.

I had no idea that the electronic sounds of the late 90s, early 00s, were so distinct and different to 10s of the 2000s.

There was a bit more funk, a bit more synth and retro to Daft Punk‘s music than I had previously heard in any of the remixes by the current disc jockeys and I absolutely loved it.

Without Tron Legacy, I wouldn’t have discovered the amazing discography of Daft Punk.

I still haven’t quite gotten in more electronic music though. Something about EDM, is just not to my style. Although, that being said, I am still a sucker for the nightclub music in Grand Theft Auto V.

What I’ve also noticed is that ever since Daft Punk was able to score a major film like Tron Legacy, other electronic artists have had their time to shine, beyond the greats like Hans Zimmer, John Williams, such as Junkie XL, M83 or Skrillex.

I have to admit, it’s a rather novel idea, to get DJs to score films, because their diverse knowledge of sounds and database makes them ideal artists to hire for unique scores.

It is a crime, that this score never won anything. It is easily one of the best soundtracks ever made.

The Culmination.

Tron Legacy is probably one of the most rewatched films in my limited history of cinema-viewing. The world, aesthetic, music and overall atmosphere makes for such captivating viewing, and is probably arguably one of the most influential design concepts in my teenage years.

It had such an influence, that I remember in my economics class of high school, I had the idea to recreate the iconic End of Line nightclub in Melbourne. It was to feature music from the film, similarly garbed bartenders, and the entrance would be accented with neon stairs to light up the Southbank area of the Yarra River.

Besides, a film that introduced me to the discography of Daft Punk will always be appreciated.

There is probably a lot more I can nerd up about this film, but I’ll digress for now.


~ Damocles

Every frame is a painting.

Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare’s All Ghillied Up (IMPACT Series)

Captain MacMillan being the badass he is.

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’ll say one thing, you’ve certainly got the minerals.

The Backdrop.

Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare is my first proper gaming addiction and … definitely one of the most fundamental pillars in my teenage development. The mulitplayer alone probably sucked out 500 hours of my life and created lifelong sleeping issues, because I stayed up till 3am replaying the game over and over.

I say fundamental, because it was one of my first proper introduction into contemporary warfare, beyond the dated Battlefield 2 (which will be covered in another post).

Everything about this game, when it first loaded on my screen, blew me away. The term “photorealistic” had no meaning for me, until I played Crew Expendable. I, frankly, could not believe this was a video game. The previous Call of Duty games I had played in World War 2 looked cartoony and janky in comparison to the smoothness I was experiencing and the ultra realistic depiction of modern warfare.

The gun models had reflective glass on their scopes, the crisp red dots looked incredible as they centred on heads and the way how the Marines moved as they stacked up against doors and blew hinges off, was so incredibly immersive.

The environments were amazingly varied and had that unique lived in feel, where battle damage, graffiti, lighting and atmosphere coalesced into a beautiful visual symphony of war. Buildings were appropriately ram-shackled or crumbling apart, cars were appropriate amount of rust, and the appearances of random watermelon added some pop and colour to the amber art direction of the Middle East.

All Ghillied Up is arguably the Call of Duty mission that will last forever in memory. Is it heavily scripted? Absolutely.

But the immersion, stealth and sheer daringness of the mission and level design are second to none.

From the detail of your customised suppressed M24 sniper rifle with camo scrim, to the abandoned church pews that serve as a munition storage and watch-tower, and the dogs that howl when you shoot them, moving through Pripyat with its radioactive zones is never short of intense, anxious energy, your eyes constantly peeled for enemy patrols and obeying MacMillan’s orders when and how to take them out. Heartbeats across the world were pumped up furiously when you had to crawl through the grass, as an enemy convoy, literally a foot away from you, walked past, never noticing the 2 odd patches of grass that disguised SAS troopers.

The fact that this is a 2-parter flashback mission to an assassination, showcases the range of level design, atmosphere and wildly different type of tensions the COD team can conjure up, with All Ghillied Up being a tense stealth mission, whilst One Shot, One Kill an action packed escape and evasion sequence that offers a balance of thrilling shoot outs on the run and wave defence at the end.

Sneaking through radioactive areas. (Image taken from The Infinite Zenith)

The Impact.

Beyond accelerating my heartbeat to the pace of 4 consecutive Red Bulls consumed in 5 minutes, All Ghillied Up introduced me to the world of sniping. It also sparked my interest again in the military and almost everything in it.

But the biggest impact, was probably the identification of guns. I became obsessed with identifying weapons, like almost every other COD fanboy out there. This of course led to my interest in firearms as a whole, and my current desire to be a competitive shooter.

But why did I pick this mission out of all of the iconic sequences? Crew Expendable, Charlie Don’t Surf, Death From Above or No Fighting In The War Room are all equally iconic, equally memorable, with their depiction of modern warfare.

But All Ghillied Up stands above the rest, because it is the outlier mission in the entire campaign. It’s the only one that values stealth over all out chaos, the mission that lets you really soak in the atmosphere it is trying to create, instead of navigate the turmoil of battle. You have time to let your eyes wander, and hear MacMillan’s command very clearly over slow music, unlike Lieutenant Vasquez yelling at you over the booms of a M1A2 Abrams tank.

Story building is key and I guess that is why I remembered this mission the most, despite not replaying it a whole lot (that honour goes to War Pig).

The impact of this mission can’t be understated, because ever since it got released, COD itself has copied the same formula in all of its games moving on, and even the Sniper Elite, Sniper Ghost Warrior series have done their best to make an entire game around this gameplay/level design concept.

The abandoned church (Image taken from The Infinite Zenith)

The Enrichment.

What did I take away from All Ghillied Up?

Probably a lot more investment in the military if I am honest. Back then, I wasn’t as enamoured with the military, preferring to invest my time and energy into researching the espionage sector (a result of James Bond obsession).

But upon learning that most spies, or active duty members in the intelligence service stem from former Special Forces, I became more invested in finding out more.

I am arguably the biggest military “fan” amongst all my friends and did so much extensive research on Special Forces, I even went out of my way to try and source some of their gear, from cargo pants, to backpacks and shooting techniques. Even with my fake guns, I do my best to kit them out with realistic accessories like T2 Aimpoint optics, G33 Magnifiers, AN/PEQ-15 units and Surefire flashlights.

But beyond that, it has mostly been my knowledge of military techniques, applications and strict discipline that has benefited me the most.

Techniques like After Action Reviews in my event management roles, honest feedback regarding performance and skills, have helped me get better at creating and designing events.

Applications like the gear I buy, has helped me carry my tools and equipment for an event (torches, traffic wands, radios, etc) more effectively and address issues on the spot, instead of wasting time running back for more gear. It has also kept me active and healthy, even more alert, as I feel more attuned to the situation in an event, if I have this gear.

Strict discipline that has always defined military traditions and training, made me more aware of just how unfit I am and honestly, a big part of my Before 30 Challenge is due to my aspiration to be a fighting fit man.

All Ghillied Up made me want a sniper rifle, and a ghillie suit, but it opened to door to my current and perhaps forever, fascination with the military.

SASR / 1st Commando Regiment in Afghanistan

The Culmination.

All Ghillied Up still represents one of the best, authentic Call of Duty experiences in the entire franchise. Atmospheric, immersive, brilliantly scripted and executed, the mission is the clear outlier in the Call of Duty 4 campaign, and for good reason. It shows Infinity Ward is capable of something other than all-out guns-blazing chaos, but also great stealth, ingenuity and stealth tension.

The mission popularised sniping as as a concept, and fostered more mythology about long distance kills and the almost inhuman ability to reach out and end a life, from a kilometre away.

From a gameplay perspective, the level design is excellent from beginning to end, the location an inspired choice for an assassination attempt on the main villain, Imran Zakhaev, and the gunplay and stealth are all beautifully executed within the COD4 formula. Even today, the graphics of Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare hold up well, and it never quite get old, seeing that cloud of blood explode, as your suppressed M24 centres on an enemy’s head.

Eerie, tense and fun, All Ghillied Up inspired me to get more invested in the military, and to one day hide in the grass like a professional sniper.

I’m just not too keen on all the leeches that might crawl up my leg, after lying out in the grass for so long.


~ Damocles.

The Barrett M82 .50cal, the biggest, rifle in the Call of Duty 4 arsenal. Still one of my favourite moments in all of gaming.

Blade Runner’s November 2019 (IMPACT Series)


Blade Runner (1982)

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. 

It was called retirement. 

The Backdrop.

Blade Runner isn’t really a film that needs much introduction. A landmark piece of cinema in special effects, it is a philosophical, cyberpunk vision of the future, that is admittedly a little hammed down by the director’s self-indulgence.

Upon my first viewing, I really didn’t understand the appeal of the film. If I am brutally honest, I still don’t really get it now.

But, if I were to remove my issues with the script, the acting and pacing, I would still consider it to be a highly engrossing film for the vision of the world itself. The aesthetic on display here is utterly captivating.

I like to label these films as music video films. 

The reason why, is because if you strip it down to sound and visuals alone, it can be compelling watching.

Similar films that fit this category for me include the excellent Tron: Legacy (2010), Oblivion (2013), Ex Machina (2014), Suspiria (1977) and the two films from Panos Cosmatos, Beyond the Black Rainbow (2010) and Mandy (2018).

These are the kind of films where dialogue, acting and story take second place to the visuals of the world, and the second most important element is the score.

I suppose in a similar vein, is one of my favourite films of all time, Mad Max – Fury Road.

Blade Runner has such a strong and incredibly rich vision of Earth by 2019. It is so wholly unique and influential in how it perceives what our future will be like. Claustrophobic, homogeneous, and incredibly artificial.

I still vividly recall seeing the first few frames and being struck by the mind-blowing visuals that still hold up today. I doubt I will ever forget the image of huge ATARI signs, or the Coca Cola advert with the Japanese Woman dancing on the side of the building.

The lack of nature was startling and bizarre, cool and terribly alien. I remember staring hard at the huge pyramid like structure, an ancient symbol, transformed into a futuristic headquarters.

The opening scene arrests you straight away. It is hard to tear your eyes away from such amazing visuals.

I still marvel at the spinners that seem to effortlessly fly through the air and add even more depth to the heights of Los Angeles.

The cherry on top for this whole opening sequence, is Vangelis’ score which has the traditional synth of the 80s, but is mixed much more evocatively with a heavy emotional haunting element to it all. It’s high pitched nature has this strange hopeful airiness to it, only to be dropped suddenly by loud thumping booms, that punctuate the melody.

It is eerie, strange, musical and compelling, much like the film’s visuals itself.

Everywhere, the detail and love for this world and its’ aesthetic is beyond belief. The costumes, the light umbrellas, the language …. it’s unimaginably creative and bold.


Even in the future, Asian cuisine is still the cheapest. 

The Impact.

The cultural impact of Blade Runner is undeniable. Suddenly, Philip K. Dick’s work were translated into films and there are probably an untold amount of work in games, anime and television that were directly influenced by this film. Deus Ex, Ghost in the Shell, Cyberpunk 2077, even Tesla’s Cybertruck to name a few.

On a more personal note, I was more intensely interested in this depiction of the future, and it actually lead me to research more into the cyberpunk world, from consuming similar media, like Deus Ex, or identifying books that had the same dystopian vision of the future.

In a lot of ways, with the concept of replicants, “off-world” colonies and highly claustrophobic dense environments becoming ever more increasingly probable, the world shown in Blade Runner seems more and more realistic.

Space flight has now been privatised and will doubtless open new opportunities for companies to mine resources other than Earth herself, and Japan’s constant promotion of robotics and sex dolls has the inherent DNA of pleasure model replicants.

Even now, some of our top minds are discussing the ethics of AI, and how that evolution may lead humanity astray or launch it further in the evolutionary scale.

Claustrophobic urban environments, already exists in mega-cities like London, Osaka, Tokyo, Delhi, Shanghai, Cairo and Mexico City. Having visited Japan recently, I can only attest to the clammy, anxious sensation you get when there are too many people around you, and when the buildings behave more like walls, than actual structures. 

I remember walking down the endless streets of Osaka, longing for a glimpse of the sky, and getting none, and getting a very Blade Runner vibe from it all, especially at night, on the dirty streets of Dotonbori.

The world of Blade Runner, especially in those first shots, are immersive, captivating and awe-inspiring, because it seems so plausible. All the neon, grime, fashion, language, technology …. despite lacking in modern aesthetic, are deeply rooted in a reality that may come to pass.


Cyberpunk at its finest. 

The Enrichment.

Blade Runner allowed me access to one of the most anxious, tightly-wound novels I have ever read, in Neuromancer, the progenitor of all cyberpunk fiction. 

If manic energy was a book, but coupled with paranoia, schizophrenia and a healthy dose of Red Bull, it would be Neuromancer.

The world that Gibson creates in that book, is literally what Blade Runner desperately tries to depict, but with a more noir feel. While Blade Runner is an almost meditative piece on the future, Neuromancer feels like a shot of adrenaline, where I spent half the book stunned by the world Gibson created and the other half ripping through the pages to find out more.

It is probably one of the most unique books I’ve ever read and one of those I dislike to revisit, because you can’t just read a chapter and be happy with it; you have to start the book from the beginning and feverishly blast through it again. While I could take out one of my favourite Clive Cussler novels and read a random chapter and be satisfied, Neuromancer demands you take the ride again from start to finish.

The creation of Neuromancer’s Chiba City most likely influenced the big Asian homogeneity in Blade Runner, especially since Asian culture has only spread in popularity with an ever increasing population growth everywhere around the globe.

I particularly love the antihero aspect of the novel, the drug addiction aspect to Case’s character something that really appealed to me somehow.

The idea that someone this desperate, this pathetic would make for an oddly compelling protagonist made for a great vision of the kind of people that would live in a society in the Sprawl.

It also helped explained why the book felt so …. fast and manic. As if Case himself was writing about his own experiences.

Blade Runner allowed me to visualise Neuromancer’s world more clearly, but in a much more Japanese fashion, due to the numerous references to Japanese culture in the book. Something I noted Cyberpunk 2077 seems to take direct inspiration from.

I suspect, there is a lot more of Cyberpunk 2077 that is directly in line with Neuromancer than any other cyberpunk fiction out there, I, for one, am glad, because the book itself never got any proper “visual” release of its vision.

To this day, I still adore cyberpunk style, fashion and aesthetic, but I am truly hoping that it doesn’t become a reality. I would rather avoid doing the Voight-Kampff test or fall in love with a replicant (slightly ironic, since my girlfriend name is actually Rachel).


Neuromancer by William Gibson. If cocaine was a book. 

The Culmination.

Blade Runner’s opening sequence is arguably one of cinema’s most aesthetically arresting introduction to a never before seen world. It instantly sets a unique tone, with its art direction, its pacing and Vangelis melodies.

Even the sequel, Blade Runner 2049, couldn’t quite capture the magic of the original, instead going for a different visual direction that enhances the world already established.

I will naturally be making an IMPACT analysis on Blade Runner 2049, since it was actually one of the my favourite films in recent releases, but that will be done later.

Blade Runner inspired me and so many others, with its depiction of the future and I truly hope there will be similar and equally interesting realistic depictions of a bizarre future to come soon!

Imagination should never stop.


~ Damocles.

Even in the future, cab jumping to catch criminals is a valid trope.

Meteora – Linkin Park (IMPACT Series)


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 want to heal, I want to feel. What I thought was never real.

The Backdrop.

Linkin Park’s second studio album Meteora was released in 2003, and was something I only discovered in 2007, 4 years after its release.

It is also one of the best selling albums of the 21st century, with over 16 million copies sold worldwide, and with its hard hitting metal and rock it’s difficult to argue why it sold like hotcakes.

The timing of the release for this album, no doubt helped boosted sales, since the early 2000s were all about collecting exciting, impactful music in CDs (remember those?), unlike the digital services we see now.

The world was also reeling from the aftermath of September 11, with angst and anger being real emotions that spread across the globe, and resonating particularly with teenagers.

Myself included.

I had never head of Linkin Park, until a certain Michael Bay film, Transformers (2007) used the now iconic What I’ve Done in the credits and absolutely drove me crazy with obsession. This led me to discover what other songs this band had created and to this seamless album.


Though we are worlds apart, like us, there’s more to them than meets the eye. I am Optimus Prime …

The Impact.

It’s very rare for me to find an album that seamlessly weave song after song, into each other. From the very first song Foreword to the last Numb each song blends into each other, a perfect 37 minute mix.

To me, that is a perfect album, where I am unable to find a single song I dislike, and the order in which they are presented, are in sync with each other.

There is an odd part of me that intensely dislike how out of chronological order certain albums are (this is almost exclusively a gripe against certain soundtracks) and so when an album like Meteora demonstrates perfect order, I get a real buzz out of it.

However, what struck me the most about Meteora was the emotion that came out of the lead singer, Chester Bennington whose voice seems the representative of every angsty teenager‘s inner turmoil.

The lyrics were provocative, interesting, and catchy, the accompanying metal, allowing you to feel like you were venting your anger in tune to the song.

Don’t Stay had you hyped for the album, with its heavy metal and airy lyrics, until it dropped all pretense and went hard.

Somewhere I Belong is a slower song, exposing the more gentle and emotionally resonant side of the album.

Lying From You has a more rap edge to it, with angry choruses and rapping to maintain a good rhythm throughout the song.

Hit the Floor fluctuates from slow and fast, angry and calm, a fascinating look into the duality that Linkin Park expresses throughout the album.

Easier to Run is the midpoint of the album, an earnest cry for help, slow and sad.

Faint picks up the pace again, with its opening riff, and the pace of the lyrics being sung. It’s the get-up song, to get you in the mood to do something again.

Figure.09 is something of a strange atmospheric song for me, having heard it in the S.W.A.T. (2003) film, when the main antagonist was driving along the streets of L.A. It’s oddly fitting for urban environments.

Breaking the Habit is something of the black sheep in the album for me. It’s totally unique and sort of at-odds with the rest of the album, but it’s so powerful and resonant, its’ hard to hate.

From the Inside behaves like the start of the end. It’s slow, thematic and the airy screams really accentuate this song.

Nobody’s Listening has a truly strange opening 5 seconds, and somehow it works. The weird flutes, the rap and the drums, only serve to highlight the screams even better.

Session behaves like an extended Foreword in that its instrumental and sombre tone makes complete sense when you couple it with Numb. 

Numb … well what is there to say? It’s the definite Linkin Park song, the best song on the album and an absolute banger from start to finish. It’s so damn good, Jay-Z remixed it in his own album later  to create Numb/Encore a song arguably just as good.

Music has always been a therapeutic mood multiplier. Something that helps you express something deep within and feel inner peace again after the song ended. When you are happy, playing a feel-good song can multiply that effect. The same applies for when you are feeling down and out.

Meteora was the perfect album for a teenager like myself, who was perpetually furious at the world. I thrived off anger when I was younger, a petulant, arrogant and bizarrely introspective child. Out of all those elements, most has resided, except for the introspection.

I loved listening to this album, feeling like I too was screaming alongside Chester, as I tried in vain to release frustrations about the world and my social status.

To say that Meteora dominated my teenage years, is probably not much of an exaggeration. I didn’t know how to get a lot of music back in the day, and the money I spent buying the CD on this album, was admittedly more than I could afford.

But the sheer replay value of the album, more than paid it off, and I even listened to it, whilst playing Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare (2007).

Looking at the number of big events in my life in the year of 2007, I have to say, it was an interesting year. I got hooked on COD4 multiplayer, to the point where I am pretty sure I was classified as “addicted” and I got far too obsessed with the notion of getting an attractive girlfriend like Megan Fox in Transformers.


I’m becoming this, all I want to do, is to be more like me and be less like you.

The Enrichment.

Beyond allowing me to discover even more of Linkin Park’s work, Meteora also enabled me to grow to appreciate a whole new genre of music.

I got more into nu-metal and indulging myself in darker music, where my life previously was dominated by classical music.

It was the perfect tonic I needed, the perfect break away from the usual classical sounds I was accustomed to, and to enjoy someone singing something that felt representative of how I felt inside.

Without my love for Meteora, I doubt I would have such eclectic taste in music today. Listening to that album, really allowed me to explore all avenues of music, beyond pop, jazz and classical.

The Culmination.

Meteora was the album that opened my eyes to how I felt internally and to the concept of a perfect album where every single song perfectly blends into one song that is 37 minutes long.

It gave me access to Linkin Park’s genius and proved to be an important factor in my development into the person I am today.


~ Damocles.

Hitman’s Showstopper (IMPACT Series)


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


~ Damocles.