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Reminiscing The Hitman 2: Silent Assassin Levels Set In Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
"Apa buat tu?!"
With Hitman 2 announced, IO Interactive has now made two games with the title Hitman 2. This will make Hitman 2: Silent Assassin, the 2002 followup to Hitman: Codename 47 more obscure in the search rankings.
Which is a shame, because Hitman 2: Silent Assassin is a good game. There is still roughness in its game mechanics and the developers has yet to settle for the series’ tone- they went dark with Hitman Contracts but then embraced dark humour in Hitman Blood Money. But one defining trait that we can still see today- the levels set in exotic locales around the world.
Three of the levels are in fact, set in Malaysia.
In a three-level arc, Agent 47 is sent to Kuala Lumpur to assassinate the IT man Charlie Sidjan. The agency has little intel on the target himself, but is known to operate in the basement sections of the Petronas Twin Towers. The first level is called Basement Killing.
And this is where hilarity ensues.
For the global audience, a lot of this will be lost, but IO’s depiction of Malaysia is rather hilarious. From the way the guards are dressed to the very hammy dialogue that, it is so-bad it’s good. Or cringey, depending on how you look at it.
First up, the guards. This is an accurate uniform of security guards here in Malaysia… for the last decade or so. By the 2000s short pants and gloves are a relic of the past and it looked oddly placed when you compare it to the modern Tower 1 lobby, which has a rather accurate design at the time.
Aside from the signage, that is.
The way the guards talk is also silly. If you did not play like a silent assassin 47 should be, you will probably be alerting the guards a lot, and hear the many barks and voiceline, which sounded very phoned in.
Here’s some examples if their lines and translation.
“Apa buat tu?!” (“What are you doing?!”)
“Lu gila!” (“You crazy!”)
“Diam diam, jangan bergerak!” (literally: “Quiet quiet, don’t move!”)
The three lines are pretty much informal Bahasa Melayu/Malaysia (Malay/Malaysian language) but in particular, it’s a late 90’s, very stereotypical bad informal Bahasa. You won’t find any security guards screaming like this, especially now.
“Adoi! Sakitnya!” (“Ouch! That hurts!”)
“Tolong aku!” (“Help me!”)
These screams of distress by the women in the level are not wrong, however the way it is being delivered is very similar to the many bad voice acting heard around this time. That’s not how you scream when a bald man is going postal! Sure the speakers of the language are generally known for its elegance and humbleness- but that’s just bad voice acting.
And it’s something most Malaysians would hear in other media featuring voice-over acting, such as cartoons, at the time. The quality of voice-acting has now improved on more recent works, thankfully.
The oddest of these lines is that there is an opportunity to sneak into the basement by disguising as a pizza delivery guy. When you retrieve the pizza, the person behind the counter described it as “mee goreng”. That’s a fried noodle dish popular in Southeast Asia, and to my knowledge, despite the many zany pizza toppings deals, never has any pizza parlour here offer a mee goreng variant.
And that’s a bad idea for a pizza topping.
IO going for the regional dialogue is very thoughtful, but for some it does feel like they are doing a sub-par job and portraying other cultures. If you look at Hitman 2016, despite 47 going to many exotic locations, most of the guards speak English with an American accent. It may shatter immersion, but you either have that or hammy regional dialogue.
After the kill is confirmed, it is then discovered that Charlie Sidjan has a twin, and he is still alive somewhere in the building. Rather than extracting out, 47 goes deeper into the Twin Towers, going up to the office floors, which starts the second level.
In Graveyard Shift, night time has fallen and 47 has to find the real Charlie Sidjan. What he had to do is hack into a server to find the location. This is one of the more straightforward levels where you just need to head an objective then head for the exit. This style of levels made a comeback with Hitman Absolution, where it was heavily focused on a linear narrative experience with a few sandbox-style levels. It is generally less popular among fans of the series.
The most notable detail about this level is that it ends by having 47 walk across the skybidge from the top, which for some reason has many ventilation and AC units stuck randomly for cover, while avoiding guards stationed up top just in case someone has the idea to sneak into the world’s tallest twin towers and walk above- not through it like any normal person would, but above- the skybridge. And it is storming with heavy rain.
You could argue 47 has no business going there in the first place but not having the option to use the bridge as intended is silly.
The Jacuzzi Job
Then the final level ups the ridiculous even more. So, across the other tower, there is an entire floor that has turned into a penthouse. With a balcony. In one of the many floors of supposedly office buildings. It’s a small location and this is where we find the real Charlie Sidjan, all naked, lounging in a jacuzzi surrounded by his female guards- Charlie’s angels if you will. The ladies all speak Bahasa as well- with the same quality of the rest of the other women in these levels- and despite dressed in swimsuits, they can pull out a gun should they be alerted of your presence.
The level itself is interesting. It’s a small footprint to work with, and more guards may be summoned up to the floor if the people up there is alerted of your presence. But it’s by not trying to be a realistic depiction of the location.
Also, this level requires you to not only kill the target, but achieve another objective, in this case stealing a treasure so it’s look like a burglary attempt go wrong. In later Hitman games, the idea of accidental kills is embraced further, which makes for gruesome and rather comical deaths.
A Relic Of Its Time
As the Hitman series moves forward, we have seen less of such depictions like the levels in Malaysia from Silent Assassin. While 47 still goes to various locations around the world, the specific buildings are not of something based in real-world landmarks.
Take Hitman 2016 for example. 47 goes to a chateau in Paris, France, not some fancy, real-world Chateau. Same goes to the fictional town of Sapienza, Italy, a bazaar next to a fictional Swedish consulate in Marakesh (which is not true in the real-world), some farmland in Colorado USA, a hotel in Thailand and a private hospital/spa that’s outlandishly exotic that it’s likely to be not in real-world Hokkaido, Japan.
However, the first level of Hitman 2 is a race event in Miami. Considering that there is talks for Formula 1 to be held at the city, with a track layout using the same parts of the city this level is depicting, it is the closest we can get to IO deliberately using real-world locations, and even then this may just be a mere coincidence.
And that’s probably for the better. Despite the novelty of seeing a part of the world rarely seen in video games, that means designers have a constraint that may prohibit fun and creative gameplay, which is now a core part of Hitman. Just having voices with the same accent means it’s easy to convey certain cues to the player, at the cost of immersion. Having the levels just be inspired by the locales rather than imitating the landmarks means designers are free to create what levels they wanted.
Though we do love to see 47 revisits Malaysia again one day. Should the leaks be true, we won’t be getting a Malaysia map in the upcoming Hitman 2- which would make things even more confusing. But the country has enough culture for some very interesting accidental kills, if the developers are brave enough to tackle the location again. The Gamer Matters crew managed to throw some ideas out in this episode of dia.log – The Gamer Matters Podcast.