In praise of: Agent 47’s Silverballers

Hidden in his jacket pockets are a pair of nickle-plated get out of jail free cards.

It’s happened to all of us. When we play any Hitman game, in our heads, there’s a perfect frame-by-frame progression of how the hit should work out – the disguises, the smoothly-hidden bodies, the piano-wire wrapped soft necks, the casual walk-away without looking back at the confused guards, the explosion in the distance. But it’s not how it plays out, is it?

Hitman Absolution screenshot

Thank God no-one put clothes in here, I’d be fucked otherwise

After five minutes of crouching behind a bin waiting for a target to shuffle past, we get bored. We start experimenting. We start making mistakes – mistakes that a cool and casual (and sociopathic) hitman shouldn’t be making. We try to eliminate a target in hand-to-hand combat, get the timing wrong, and leave a corrupt politician – or whoever the target happens to be – wondering why we’re waving a knife around in front of him. Bodyguards rush in, bullets start flying, and bystanders start doing the old run and cower.

Shit, in other words, hits the fan. But there’s always a solution.

Hitman SIlverballers

Well, two solutions

Hidden in Agent 47’s jacket pockets are a pair of nickle-plated get out of jail free cards. There is almost no problem that can’t be solved by judicious use of Silverballers, and although that problem hasn’t been solved stealthily or smoothly, it stays fucking solved.

>When you select the Silverballers, you draw two shining silver pistols – two overlong metaphors held steadily in leather-gloved hands. The .45 ammo (which is about as powerful a bullet as you can sensibly fit in a handgun and still shoot it one-handed without breaking your wrist) ragdolls enemies across the world in a way that no other weapon, short of a point-blank shotgun blast, can do. Targets arc back across the full length of rooms and off balconies and over cliffs as round after round of ammunition thuds into their chests at an absurdly high rate.

You can silence the Silverballers, but I feel that this constitutes cheating.

hitman absolution

There’s no other weapon like them in any of the games, as they tend to fall into the “chillingly improvised” or the “professionally militaristic” ends of the spectrum, never veering towards “badass” where the Silverballers have very definitely set up their gleaming metal throne.

To steal a phrase from the internet, the Silverballers are cruise control for awesome. They are a weapon that you can point at a problem and turn it into a solution, as well as a sort of fine red mist. They are otherworldly items even within the game, a nod from the developers that hey, sometimes things go wrong. Sometimes life is hard. Sometimes you get caught. Sometimes, rather than the frustration of a stealth mission failed, you want the satisfaction of systemically stalking through a level and knocking great big exit wounds in anything that looks like it might disagree with you.

With the Silverballers, once you draw ’em, you’re not stuck in the level with the guards. They’re stuck in the level with you.