Developer: IO Interactive
Release Date: 11/03/2016
Publisher: Square Enix
Platforms: XboxOne, PS4, PC
Hitman: First Impressions
Finally after a few heartbreaking delays the newest instalment in the HITMAN series recently became available on Steam, IO interactive have taken a different approach from the former games and decided to drip feed this newest experience in the way of monthly episodes.
This first pack comes with 2 training missions along with the main episode and provide multiple ways of completing your objective, meaning these monthly instalments are looking to be ripe with replayability and might just be worth your money at this stage. If you’re looking to dive right back into that suit and red tie.
Only time will tell but here’s an honest opinion from a long time fan of the series.
I'll try to be brief, since this is only a taste of the full game.
HITMAN is an origin game and seeks to fill the gap sometime during the events of the 2000 game Hitman: Codename 47. It begins with 47 joining ICA under the handler Diana Burnwood and completing the first assassinations that give the protagonist his notoriety in the series.
It starts off with two short contracts that act as training and are presented as reenactments of previous assassinations completed by ICA agents with hired actors playing guards, party guests and maintenance workers (with rubber bullets and styrofoam weapons I suppose, although below is a picture of me nutting a guard with a wrench and it didn't sound like no styrofoam wrench to me) the first target is an arms smuggler at a yacht party. the other is a soviet spy at an airfield. Both these contracts are pretty straight forward and give you a good idea of what to expect in the main missions.
The first contract “Showstopper” is what really gives me confidence that this will be a return to glory for the series. This map is a sprawling sandbox of opportunities ripe with creative assassinations and replayability that brings fond memories of the Curtains Down contract from Hitman: Blood Money.
What's nice is the new addition of “Opportunities” that allow you to track objectives to offer you specific ways to take down your target, each opportunity is tailored to the specific level and will keep you finding new ways to complete the contract.
IO Interactive have really emphasized replayability in each monthly contract in a lot of ways, 2 of which are Escalation mode and Elusive target, the latter is something of a live update to the game world which adds a random NPC fresh with his/her own backstory and purpose within the level, you’ll only be given a short window to eliminate this target and if you miss it you're fucked and they’ll never be back, adding a very real sense of precision and an almost demanding understanding of the current maps many intricacies.
Killing off this target gives you unlocks but i can’t confirm what they are specifically yet but it's the urgency and rareness of this encounter that make this an appealing avenue of play. If you’ve played Dark Souls then Escalation mode will make sense when i say it's like NG+ for Hitman, The contracts become harder but in the classic Hitman sense, you’re given a target but are only allowed to eliminate them in a certain disguise, then only a certain weapon with a certain disguise then weapon plus disguise plus doing it under a specific time limit equals great victory and self satisfaction.
IO Interactive are really pushing the replayability and it's a good thing because Hitman has always been fantastically repayable and this just supplements the attraction.
What I can definitely say about Hitman is that the gameplay is an improvement over Hitman: Absolution. Building on what the previous game did right and stripping away what it did wrong, namely, the cramped levels and infinite weapons 47 could hide under his suit.
Now it’s worth mentioning the AI is still lacking in a lot of areas. Guards don't seem to bat an eye when I walk past them in maintenance overalls then pass them again 30 seconds later in a guard costume.
Either enemies notice you playing dress-up and slotting all their colleagues and just don't get paid enough to care or they actually have no spacial awareness and didn’t even notice someone walking past them. In either case this coupled with some poor line of sight and easily distracted guards combine to give the AI in Hitman much to be desired, don't get me wrong this has always been a part of the Hitman franchise as it adds more problem solving to getting around guards than the previous *Use instinct to win* strategy of the former Hitman. But it still makes the AI feel a little too forgiving and less deception based.
That being said the AI is more logical and consistent than the previous games, guards will search the area of murders for suspicious people, tell you off when you’re about to enter a restricted area and also escort you out. These small tweaks really go a long way to immersing the player in this environment whilst removing some of the uncertainty in some levels (See: Guards peppering you for entering a restricted area)
The big question is are you comfortable investing in a piece of bread in the hopes that in 12 months it’ll be a fully realised sandwich? If the first episode is anything to go off then HITMAN looks to be taking the series in the right direction and the monthly episodes might just be the best way to handle a Hitman game since it’s giving IO Interactive plenty of time to build and polish each map with enough depth and detail to keep players exploring every nook and cranny for new opportunities to assassinate their target.
Trailer for the upcoming episode titled “Welcome to Sapienza” was recently shown. Expect the full episode April 26.
For more info about Hitman Episode 2 click here