Hitman was never about the Silverballers or the W2000 Rifle he carries on the box. It was about the perfect kill - no witnesses, no bullets, and sometimes no evidence of murder at all.
Slaughter everyone in Vegas and sooner or later you'll kill the rogue CIA agent or arms dealer you were after, but why do that when you can execute your assignment beautifully?
Over four games Agent 47 has executed paedos in Paris, bikers in Rotterdam, a presidential impostor in the White House, and even his own creator in the Romanian clinic where he was born. There've been duff missions along the way - Contracts' Bjarkhov Bomb, Blood Money's Death of a Showman - but some magnificent ones, too, with some of the best examples of level design in videogame history.
In preparation for 47's return in Hitman Absolution, these are Hitman's greatest hits. So far. Obviously, there'll be a few spoilers here...
Location: Paris Opera House, Paris, France
Game: Blood Money
Briefing: Everybody hates paedophiles. Blood Money has two which need to be dealt with, and they're both bastards - a US ambassador and a famous opera singer. Both need to die the night before Tosca opens at the Paris Opera.
The job: Ambassador Delahunt sits in his box, surrounded by half a dozen bodyguards. D'Alvade rehearses on stage watched by directors, producers, guests, and his close friend Delahunt. Both men are untouchable, and this is the perfect Hitman assignment.
The only thing that'll get Delahunt from his private booth is an accident befalling his friend so 47 will need to get close. There's no elegance in a sniper's bullet to the head from an adjacent booth, but D'Alvade is scheduled to die on stage at the hands of an executioner's prop pistol - a pistol 47 can replace with the real thing.
Better still, 47 can replace the actor and pull the trigger himself, murdering D'Alvade before a dozen witnesses and passing it off as an accident. As Delahunt sprints towards the stage he trips in the perfect place, stumbling beneath a chandelier the prepared hitman will already have rigged to fall on the VERY BAD MAN. Next: the best musical cue
in the history of gaming, and a slow walk to the exit.
Did you know?: In Tosca's third act Cavaradossi is supposed to fake his own death before a sham fi ring squad, but the execution is all-too real. D'Alvade in the role of Cavaradossi shares a very similar, very ironic fate.
Location: Hayamato Retreat, Japan
Game: Hitman 2
Briefing: Arms dealer Masahiro Hayamoto is wanted dead but nobody knows where he is. Eliminate his son Hayamoto Jr and plant a tracking device on his corpse so it can be tracked to his father's hideout.
The job: A short mission with little in the way of variety, but it's tightly put together. Agent 47's grizzled features means the Yakuza aren't going to let him wander around bullet-free, necessitating Sam Fisher-esque sneaking in the shadows.
Stealth your way past the guards and the best way to success while preserving your Silent Assassin rating involves impromptu culinary skills that'd give Gordon Ramsay a heart attack. Hayamoto's head chef gifts you a golden opportunity for the hit of the game by carelessly leaving a fatally poisonous fugu fish in a storeroom adjacent to the kitchen.