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The Hitman series has been long-adored by gamers for its freedom and creativity while carrying out macabre hits made for some truly amazing and memorable gameplay. The Hitman series has certainly gone through some growing pains though, trading out more open-ended gameplay for some more linear games like Hitman: Absolution and Hitman (2016). Hitman 3 is a return to form with a plethora of ways to maim, stab, pulverize, and generally take out targets.
The story of Hitman 3 is the final in the World of Assassins trilogy beginning with the beloved Agent 47 hunting down members of Providence, a group of corporate elites with their hands in everything, in the world’s largest building, the Sceptre. Right from the get-go, you know you’re in for something big, but that something is not the story. It’s not bad by any means, but Hitman 3 doesn’t come off as a narrative-driven game. Some older fans may find this storyline engaging, but I was just there for the gameplay and freedom. The narrative is fine with bonafide bad guys, double-agents, and bad-ass mercs, but didn’t quite manage to demand my attention to the story when it mostly just boiled down to “go here and kill him.” Despite the story not being my favorite, IOI definitely worked at giving Agent 47 more personality with tongue-in-cheek jokes towards targets while he’s in disguise. Diana Burnwood rejoins the cast for the 3rd installment and she’s as smooth-talking as ever with some solid voice acting by Jane Perry. The antagonists of this story aren’t too bad either, even if they’re not really fleshed out. Providence and its partners serve as decent cannon fodder for the varieties of ways to dispose of them. Most people don’t play the World of Assassins trilogy for the plot though, they play it for that sweet, sweet, gameplay.
Gameplay is what has made this title one of my favorites of 2021 so far. To start, there are only 6 regular levels, which may not seem like nearly enough but these levels are massive and insanely dense. They’re full of huge crowds and a number of ways to hide in plain sight and eliminate targets without anybody raising so much as an eyebrow at you. Poking around and exploring is good fun and planning and executing a strategy is extremely satisfying. You can go for the classics like a headshot from your trusty silenced pistol or something more elaborate like dressing like an undertaker and kicking a target into their own grave at a fake funeral. For maximum enjoyment, I’d suggest avoiding the storyline mission objectives since they end up handholding a little too much for my taste. The reasoning behind the limited number of levels is because the replayability is so incredibly high. They’re designed so you can play through again and again trying out different methods of assassinations, disguises, and tools. One playthrough barely scratches the surface of what’s possible in Hitman 3. Most importantly it’s just a good time all around. The disguise mechanics can feel a little goofy sometimes since apparently nobody has facial recognition in this game, but that doesn’t detract away from this game at all. IOI knows what people want from Hitman and they provided it for us in this game. My one complaint is that some in-game interactions were a little bit wonky and required me to load one of my save where I ended losing about 10 minutes of progress. I’d hand a character an item they requested and stand there while they went through the dialogue, then suddenly the question mark indicating suspicion would pop up. This completely interrupted the dialogue and it wouldn’t resume even after returning to normal which prevented me from progressing my objectives. Another very minor issue is that occasionally a duplicate guard would appear or spawn inside of another guard which made some objective marginally more complicated. The great gameplay overshadows any minor bugs I had to deal with though and I was more than happy to continue playing.
Graphics on PC were top-notch; I was able to see Agent 47’s shining head in all its bald glory. Cutscenes were smooth and reflections were pretty sharp too. The neon lights in China were a beautiful sight with shadows and colors popping in high resolution. The graphical fidelity, even with tons of NPCs filtering in and out of rooms, was amazing and should be commended. The locations were gorgeous as well. Nightclubs with flashing lights, massive skyscrapers laded in gold, and an old British mansion all made appearances with incredible design and impressive graphics. Of course, these levels need to be good-looking since there are only 6 levels in the game. Framerate was a stable 60FPS at 4k with two 980 Ti’s with only a couple of slight hiccups during my playtime.
The sounds of Hitman 3 were fine too, not particularly exceptional but worked well and on time within the game. The music really ended up being forgettable for me but served as a way to break up the silence and match the tone, with the exception of a club level with thumping base and electronic riffs. The voice acting, however, was great. NPC’s talk to you while you’re choking a man out to get his uniform and targets’ voices are well-acted and filled with creative and engaging dialogue.
Hitman 3 was a joy for me to experience. None of the issues I mentioned really took away any enjoyment from my time with the title. The freedom and expansive levels really elevate Hitman 3 to the upper echelon of games this year. It’s all but guaranteed that I’ll end up doing all the challenges and extra content that Hitman 3 has to offer. It’s absolutely worth your time if you like Hitman, and it’s certainly worth a shot if you’ve never played.
Kirby, a Brief History
No one can deny that Kirby, with his round little pink self, has captured the hearts of millions and garnered international fame. The franchise has spun out more than thirty games starring the blush blob, earning big bucks for Nintendo and HAL Labs. But before becoming a video game icon, Kirby was actually created rather haphazardly.
How Kirby became an adorable pink circle
The first Kirby game was called Kirby’s Dream Land, released on the Game Boy in 1992. Young designer Masahiro Sakurai was assigned to create a game that was simple enough for anyone to pick up and learn to play. (To this day, Kirby games are easy and accessible.)
While the game was in development, Sakurai created a basic avatar to perform the primary movements of play – a little ball with arms and legs. This was meant as a placeholder, later to be swapped for something more definite. But throughout testing and animation, the team fell in love with this white blob, and they ended up sticking with it. But he was just that – white.
Since Kirby’s Dream Land released on the original Game Boy, its protagonist’s color was indefinite. Adding to the confusion, the game’s North American box art depicted a white Kirby, while the Japanese art showed the pink character we’ve come to recognize. Sakurai always imagined Kirby to be pink, while Shigeru Miyamoto (who created Mario and worked as a producer on Kirby) always imagined our hero to be yellow. Color was an afterthought – literally. They didn’t nail down the official pink hue until after the first game’s release.
Another thing that didn’t come until the second game was Kirby’s ability to copy his enemies’ powers after slurping them up. Kirby’s Adventure dropped on the NES in ‘93, and implemented copy abilities, which are now a characteristic trait of the spherical savior of Dream Land.
How Kirby got his name
Sakurai’s project had a working title of Twinkle Popopo. But Nintendo wanted to go with a name that could create more draw for Western customers. After throwing around several options, the team finally named their character after… a lawyer.
John Kirby was a lawyer who worked long and hard on Nintendo’s behalf in a legal fight with Universal. The movie studio had sued over Donkey Kong, claiming the primate videogame character’s name was too akin to King Kong. (It’s like, totally a different Kong, geez.) Nintendo eventually won the suit, and named a character after Mr. Kirby as a way of saying thank you.
After many platformer adventures, pinball titles, 3D games, and Super Smash cameos, Kirby is now one of the most beloved characters in the video game industry’s history. Whether happily floating above Planet Popstar or bravely dueling with Meta Knight, his innocence and simplicity has captivated kids and grownups alike. And from the looks of it, he’s not stopping anytime soon.
The Best Asymmetric Virtual Reality Games Out Now
Virtual reality is fun, but playing with friends makes it better. The problem is that not everyone can afford a VR headset, so we put together a few games you and your friends can play with only a single VR system.
5. Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes
Better talk fast because the clock is ticking and there’s a bomb in your hands! Available in VR and regular screen, Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes puts one player in charge of manipulated bomb components to keep it from blowing up. Another player is supplied only with a guide. The thing is that every bomb is different and the reader has no idea what your bomb looks like. Speed is vital. Communication is key.
4. Fast and Low
Shoot and move in this SWAT simulator game. Despite its less-than-finished appearance, this game has solid bones with “realistic” gunplay, suspect interactions, damage, and room clearing. One player can hop in on PC while another gets ready to get rowdy in virtual reality. Take your time as you move room to room searching out hostels, but don’t be too trigger-happy because some are going to surrender. Take them alive if you can.
3. Reiko’s Fragments
Do you want to scare the living daylights out of your friends and family? The Reiko’s Fragments might be for you. Virtual reality is already pretty terrifying with even the smallest of scares, but now your friends can take control. One person takes the reins and puts on the headset; the rest can pull up their phones and get to scaring.
2. Takelings House Party
This is a true party game. Grab a few friends with phones to take up the mantle of “Takelings,” thieving humanoids hell-bent on making your home life miserable. The person in VR needs to take these things out by any means necessary. That includes hammers, nailguns, toasters, and waffle makers. It’s still in early access but is worth a buy if you like party games.
1. Smush TV
Have you ever wanted to face your fear of being crushed under tetrominoes while electronic music pumps in the background? Smush TV is just that where a player in VR does their best to climb to the top of a Tetris tower while avoiding getting smushed. The other flatscreen player is on a mission to drop these blocks on the other’s head.
No, Shooting Guns in VR Does Not Translate to Shooting Firearms in Real Life
Guns and virtual reality go together like peanut butter and jelly. The shooter genre is one of the biggest in the VR space right alongside melee hack and slashers. Naturally, some people are bringing up the idea that video games may cause violence once again or rather may teach people how to be violent. There’s a mild connection there with VR being a highly interactive medium where you physically act out an action, but the truth is that there’s just not much you can learn especially with complex things like firearms.
It’s important to note that VR can only teach people to use firearms only as effectively as any other learning medium like books or videos. There are no special movements or techniques taught in VR that aren’t found elsewhere. In fact, I’d wager that most people who consume media on the regular probably already know how to load a magazine into a firearm and pull a trigger. These actions are already intuitive though and would be fairly easy to figure without instruction anyway.
Virtual reality can’t simulate the weight of a firearm nor dealing with concussive force from a gunshot. Virtual makes firearms simple. Reload. Click. Shoot. Easy. It removes all of the individual actions necessary for operating a weapon. It doesn’t teach you how to clear a malfunction or even load rounds into a magazine. Or control recoil and correct trigger pulling technique. The list is long. Although, manipulating firearms isn’t a particularly difficult process in the first place. Virtual reality doesn’t cover any of the things that make for a proficient shooter.
I’d even argue that virtual reality might actually teach terrible habits for people that might get into hobbyist shooting later on. The first is reinforcing poor trigger control. With real firearms, you need to be particular in the way you pull a trigger. Incorrect technique can throw shots off target by a lot. Virtual reality controls have more stability and little trigger resistance. They don’t require a consistent form.
Recoil control is something else that’ll suffer when using VR. With real firearms, recoil is typically controlled by tightly bracing it to your body or locking your wrists. Virtual reality is a different story. Most recoil control is done just by pulling the controllers down, yet another way to throw off your shots in real life.
Virtual reality isn’t effectively teaching anyone to use firearms. In fact it’s probably doing just the opposite. This is just a recycled argument of “video games cause violence.”