Today, we explore the contracts mode in Hitman.
I got the idea for making both this and the Escalation contract episodes (yes, plural) after reading an opinion piece from Kirk Hamilton on Kotaku. In the piece, he talks about the what I have come to call the "stack" of Hitman, which I also eluded to in my episodes on Elusive Targets. Hamilton and I agree on the overall layout of the stack but not necessarily what every piece of it does.
We both agree on the story missions. Those are the "safest" missions in the game. Players can save and load anywhere they want in the middle of these missions, which gives them freedom to fail and try again with impunity. However, since most targets have several scripted "opportunity" sequences that lead one through an easy path to isolate or kill the target, there's an upper limit to know much one can learn just by going through this mode over and over.
Contracts is a lot more freeform, owing to their status as player-generated missions. While contracts take place on the same maps as story missions, with the same NPCs and AI routines, the twist is that the targets, up to 5, can be anyone on the map. And unlike story missions, players cannot save while in the middle of performing a player-made Contract.
In order to succeed as a contract player and as a contract creator, one will naturally begin to explore the maps and learn about layouts, AI routines, and item placement. Because it's impossible to save, and because they are player-made, contracts are not as easy to perform as story missions. However, they are low-stakes and can be retried as often as the player wants.
For me, I didn't know about that secret entrance to the mansion via the waterfall, nor did I know about the Red and Green Plumbers, until I played this contract. And that's far from the only thing I learned about these maps from Contracts that I never knew from rising in Mastery level by completing challenges in the story mission.
Escalation Contracts are next in the stack, but we'll get to those next time.