Celebrity tattooist P-Power is so nervous about the prospect of working on cartel boss Rico Delgado’s neck piece that he failed to notice his bartender poisoning his beer. Well, to be fair it wasn’t his bartender per se, it was me. The chap who was originally serving his beers is now sleeping off a concussion in some long grass just outside the window, wearing nothing but his smalls and a couple of fresh bruises.
I hadn’t planned on knocking out the bartender, you understand, but I ran into an unexpected complication. I needed to find a way to get close to Rico, holed up in his heavily fortified mansion, and P-Power’s open invite was perfect. My carefully laid plans rapidly fell apart when the barman recognised me, however.
Well, didn’t recognise me, if we’re being specific – I was dressed as a drummer when I rocked up to his small bar in the Colombian village of Santa Fortuna. How was I to know that the guy serving the drinks was bosom buddies with the sleeping percussionist whose clothes I stole earlier?
The bar was idyllic when I arrived. Located in a picturesque spot at the far end of the village, sat between jungle-covered cliffs and a collection of rickety shops, shacks, and walkways built on the riverbank. If you ignore the cocaine lab 100 feet down the road it’s quite lovely. My presence rapidly destabilised the region, though.
I’d donned the drummer disguise as part of an aborted plan to join a band – one scheduled to play at the unveiling of a new, suspiciously unlevel statue of Rico in the centre of the village. Our aggrieved barman alerted the heavily-armed authorities, however, and a game of cat-and-mouse ensued. Ducked into the long grass, I did my best to stay out of sight while tossing coins at the also-heavily-armed militia guarding the coke lab’s entrance.
I managed to lure one into the elephant grass and throttle him, but I wasn’t slick enough and got spotted in the process. At that point I had two sets of ethically questionable authorities hunting me, and only greenery and guile to get me back on an even keel.
I emerged from my shrubbery sojourn next to the bar again, having somehow eluded every gun looking for me – there, on the wall, was a fuse box. I flipped the switch, naturally, waited for the barman to investigate, clobbered him when he did, nicked his clothes, ran back into the bar while P-Power was on the phone, tipped some rat poison into his beer, and dashed around to the other side of the bar. Now I’m cleaning it while waiting for him to take another sip. Outside, dozens of men are scouring the area, guns drawn. I’m not even sweating, because I’m a professional. A bullet-riddled professional.
P-Power soon heads for the toilet, and I follow. We all know what happens after I close the door (although I can’t be sure whether Agent 47 uses a ballpoint or permanent marker to recreate P-Power’s sleeve tattoo), and after a short walk I knock on the giant wooden gates of Rico’s mansion. Inside, I’m frisked, and then led past dozens of armed guards to meet Rico’s wife – she tells me about her dissatisfaction with his tattoo’s resemblance to her, we pose for a selfie, and then she leads me into his office.
Rico’s overzealous personal bodyguard refuses to leave at first, so I just get on with inking my soon-to-be victim. Asking Rico to stay still prompts him to chide his close protection for making him nervous, and ask the guy to leave the room. Shortly after he pulls the door to, I jam the tattoo pen into his ear and drag the body into his en suite bathroom. Not the kind of cover up Rico was expecting, I’m sure.
My escape is somewhat messy: out the window, Rico’s car keys in hand, down a supporting beam, and over to the garage where I find his sports car. I can’t figure out how to get into it, so I nervously walk out the front gate, instead. This convoluted series of events sees off just one of Santa Fortuna’s targets – fellow cartel bosses Jorge Franco and Andrea Martinez are still at large – and brings an end to my hands-on demo.
Santa Fortuna is a sprawling map, but is much more sparsely populated than the Miami level. It makes you feel more exposed, denied the easy disappearing act large crowds allow, especially given the sheer number of patrolling guards armed with automatic weapons. Your marks will wander significant distances, too – Rico can also be squashed under that perilous statue in the village, for example.
While I have a soft spot for Hitman’s denser urban settings, Santa Fortuna’s flowing geography makes for an enticingly open level that satisfies in its own ways. From this brief look, there certainly appears to be no shortage of emergent possibilities, and the combined presence of revelling tourists and heavy armed forces makes for a uniquely tense atmosphere.
My next opportunity to dip in will be November 13, the Hitman 2 release date, but for now I’m going to practise my jungle stealth tactics in the garden I keep failing to mow.