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Looking Back... Hitman: Blood Money

We inflitrate IO HQ to put designer Rasmus Hojengaard under the spotlight to learn more about Agent 47's origins

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We wanted to have a really cool nemesis character for Agent 47 in this game, and Parchezzi has the goal of wanting to kill him because Agent 47 is basically what he's not. Parchezzi's a good assassin, but he has all these fatal flaws because he's an albino and is prone to cancer. We thought that making Agent 47 be hunted by him would be cool and we didn't really want to use clones in the game, so we came up with this guy. He turned out to be a really cool character; very classy, yet at the same time very mean.

We wanted to have the other assassins to keep things interesting, plus we could have duels and other stuff going on. We could have characters that defended themselves more than the normal drug dealer or similar would do. So when we made the Mardi Gras level, the Heaven and Hell party and the Christmas party, we wanted to add the worry of having other assassins there so you got a bit paranoid - plus it makes for cool targets.


Usually, Hitman's always been up the social scale in terms of location, with Contracts being the odd one out. For Blood Money, we wanted to do more picture-postcard locations because it just works more efficiently if you do some really cool stuff in a location that's the opposite. So if you take a peaceful suburb with sprinklers, barbecues and Martini-soaked housewives going about their business and you put a guy into a garbage truck and crush him to pieces, it's going to work a lot better than if you do it in a location such as a dark and abandoned warehouse which just screams horror. We wanted the game to be a little more hardcore too, and you can see this in the training level when you have to execute a guy who's actually begging for his life.

Initially, the Mardi Gras level was going to be a PlayStation 2 showcase. We wanted to see if we could do this on PS2 because at that point, everyone was hyping crowds on the next-gen consoles, so we knew that if we could get in and make a pretty decent crowd system on PS2 it would provoke a reaction. So we decided to put the crowds in, and it actually turned out a lot better than we'd hoped for. Realising it on PC and Xbox 360 is a bit of a no-brainer, but realising it on the lower-end platforms at almost the same quality was something that I'm really proud of - and I know that the same goes for a lot of the programmers who worked on this thing.

I think that the easter egg with the poker-playing rats was just a crazy idea between the programmer who was setting up the gameplay and an animator. They just took these poker-playing animations and these rats that we had and said: "OK, do we have the memory for it? Yes we do." So then they added the animations to the rats. It was just a funny thing, but there's tons more stuff too people haven't found half of it.


The easter eggs are sort of like a signature for some of the people who set it up, but it's just as much for the fans to discover too. It doesn't require much on our side except for the memory resources and it doesn't require much to implement, but the people who discover them get immense gratification when they do and can't wait to tell other people, and that in itself is one of the things that's going to help people dig the franchise and really get into the series.

The controversy around the ad campaign was good - if you don't get some sort of reaction like that, you haven't made a good campaign. It's a fine line you've got to walk, but I don't think they were that horrific; when you compare them to what movies are doing nowadays, it's nothing. Most of the really horrific things came out of people's heads; for example, a lot of people applied a sexual perspective to the lady lying there dead, as in necrophilia and so on, but none of that was ever the idea of the adverts. It's totally people's minds that come up with these things and that's more worrying than the ads themselves.

I think that Blood Money's got a successful soundtrack because the man behind it, Jesper Kydd, makes a really tasteful blend of electronic and symphonic music. It doesn't become too disturbed or too subtle and it changes dynamically with the AI in the game in a way which is pretty pleasing. You don't really notice the music until you remove it and that's how it's supposed to be; I think it stresses a lot of the situations and things that you do in the game, so together with the Freedom Fighters soundtrack, it's the best soundtrack to any game we've developed.

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