Since 2016's Hitman, Elusive Targets have made punctual assassins of us all. They're exactly what the name says: slippery targets. You have one go at them, no saves, no room for deadly errors, and usually only a week or so to tackle it. Your kills must be clean, and if they aren't, you must have an exit strategy in play. Or, like me, be really good at winging things.
Hitman 2's first Elusive Target is a big one: the actor Sean Bean, who portrays fictional character Mark Faba. Bean, as an actor, has a reputation for being killed off in many of his biggest roles, from Game of Thrones to Lord of the Rings. The wink-wink gag about Bean's character in Hitman 2 is that he has been assassinated many times, and yet, always emerges alive and well. This makes him "The Undying," and it's up to Agent 47 to finish him off for good.
Like all Elusive Targets, the nitty gritty of taking down Sean Bean is outlined in the mission briefing. It's on the familiar map of Miami; after reviewing Hitman 2 earlier this month and dabbling in the Miami-only for now beta of Ghost mode, I feel like I know the map like the back of my hand. For this Elusive Target, his route is narrow: the upstairs area of the military building off the race track. In the briefing, we're given some hints as to how to take Bean's death-evasive character down: meet up with a contact to get into a meeting with Bean, getting upstairs from the elevator shaft, or just snipe Bean from afar. Of course, you're not limited to those loose outlines.
For me, I tried to blaze my own path, but ended up falling into the critical path anyways. I walked into the main building with nothing but my cowboy suit, lockpick, a pocket full of coins, and lethal pills that I stashed away in a garbage can near the entrance, as per my pickup. Little did I know, my contact was right there, a man who agreed to help get us close to Bean if we cleared out the trouble's he's in. He tells me I need a better disguise, so I knock out a nearby engineer and take his likeness.
Agent 47, forever bald and tattooed, is somehow a master of disguise, and yet this contact recognizes his new outfit immediately. He is seemingly the only person with eyes and a brain in the Hitman universe. I'm led upstairs into a meeting with Bean, who is sipping coffee. I sit down in a chair to blend in, watching Sean Bean talk some nonsense. I plot the layout of the room: should I distract the room and poison his coffee? I decided to sit and wait, tailing him for his route to decide what to do with all the possibilities.
There's an anxiety that comes with Elusive Targets that's not always present in the main game, and it's something I've always enjoyed about them. Since you only get one shot and no saves to play the Elusive Target, every step or false move is potentially devastating. Where sometimes I'm a little looser and riskier with kills in the base game, with Elusive Targets, I usually play it safe. Yet that doesn't mean both approaches aren't encouraged—in fact, that's what makes Hitman so great, the fact that you can do and try anything. It's just that with the Elusive Target, the risk is far greater.
After tailing Bean for awhile, I had his route locked down. I knew where he paused, who he talked to at each stop (Bean chews up the scenery, it seems he had fun with this minor role), and yet, I couldn't decide on how to kill him. A part of me even wished I took the briefcase and sniped him from afar. Instead, I ended up taking the disguise of a scientist he talks to. As he was observing a plan, I got a prompt that was too tempting: kill with pen. I thought it might be subtle, like the syringe kill, when in reality, it was anything but. The moment I smashed his head down onto a pen and pulled it out of his eye socket, I realized every guard in the room had trained their guns on me. I fucked up.
Or so I thought.
In a panic, I ran to the room I had swapped disguises in, became a guard again, and snuck out undetected. I had successfully killed Sean Bean, not so "undying" anymore. Of course, Bean is just a taste of the Elusive Targets that will undoubtedly continue in Hitman 2. Without a seasonal structure, it's unknown at what frequency targets will pop up, which were every few weeks back in 2016 and a little beyond; plus for "The Undying," players have two weeks to take on the challenge, rather than just one. Folks who kill Bean successfully get a special explosive pen they can take along for the rest of their assassinations too.
Bean will likely be the peak when it comes to celebrity targets though. In the past, there was a competition against Gary Busey and Gary Cole, with Busey proving to be more popular for obvious reasons. (He's weird, man! I mean, have you even seen The Gingerdead Man?) But a celebrity appearance isn't necessarily a mark of must-play quality. Across Season One of Hitman, I periodically checked out Elusive Targets. For most of them, I fumbled spectacularly, losing my chance and never getting it again. For others, I passed with flying colors, feeling how Agent 47 must feel at the end of every hit: invincible.
When Hitman emerged from the depths of being a sort of cult favorite series to a must-play sandbox, its seasonal structure was initially off putting. Through episodic levels, miscellaneous events, side campaigns, and yes, Elusive Targets, IO Interactive smartly reinvented not just Hitman, but the framework around the Hitman formula. Even when you thought you were done with Hitman, there was always something to tempt you back.
Hitman 2 may feel like a Las Vegas buffet right now—a feast of yummy crab legs that overwhelms you—but it's the months to come that have my attention. IO Interactive has promised plenty of post-launch content, but given its lackluster launch sales in the U.K., I can't help but be worried of its long term future. At least for the immediate, killing Sean Bean for the millionth time of his career was a fun, clever way to pass the time.