HITMAN, another game hit by the Reboot bug, after what many consider a low point in its Career with Absolution HITMAN looks to go back to its roots with its newest release. Developed by IO Interactive and published under Square Enix, HITMAN switches from the full game release style to the more coveted style of Episodic releases with the first episode in March, second in April and so forth till the end of the year for 7 episodes in total. Everyone wants to be a TV show nowadays…
The game starts off with a prologue to the series, 20 years before Absolution, with Agent 47 first arriving at the ICA and going through their rigours tests, checks and training. While one dark figure disproves of the lack of things to hold against 47 Diana vouches for him heavily, even going as far as helping 47 in his final test that the dark figure was sabotaging. From the training we are then brought to present day where 47 is a full agent, with Dianna on the line for help and the Agency at his back, no more running for 47 it seems.
With only 1 episode, which constitutes 1 mission, there isn’t much more to gleam from the story. We are given some cutscenes to tell the history and the current story, but not much else is divulged, besides a new organisation called IAGO and their list of MI5 agents, with a final cutscene telling us more about the powers at play.
Episode 1 and its tutorials aren’t too long, you can get them all done in around 100 minutes, the Paris mission can be done in 20 minutes with your first play through. However, Hitman is going for a similar style to Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes, in the fact it gives you a wide area with multiple angles and objectives to complete, allowing for several playthroughs, challenges runs and more. I’ve easily spent 10 hours doing the challenges, assassinations, discovering new items and entries, feats as well as the contracts mode.
Playing very similar to other Hitman games you will control 47 with a far back over the shoulder camera, running with shift and crouching with C, though the crouching is more for hiding then used as a traversal method. You will have access to guns, tools like hammers or crowbars to throw at enemies or to bash open containers, lock picks, drugs and poisons, explosives and more. If you have a large weapon, it will be on show, but most other things are well hidden on 47, unless he is patted down.
There is no stamina bar, no stealth meter, no kill count or even a health bar, you will have to use your best guess when it comes to how well you are performing or when you might die. The only thing you have at your disposal is the suspicion meter that pops up around 47 when he is being detected and the Eagle Vision… I mean Instinct… it allows you to highlight people and objects of interest… maybe it’s got to do with all that experimenting the doctors did on him.
Every missions has a set of Challenges to complete, which will give you exp towards that level’s Mastery, unlocking new items to bring in or new suits to wear. The challenges come in the form of different assassinations on your target like accidental kills and the weapons you use, Discovery of items, clothing and opportunities, feats of prowess like total stealth runs and more. These give the missions a lot more replayability as you can’t do them all in one run, for the Paris mission you will have to do it more than 10 times for them all as you need to start in each of the locations.
With HITMAN the developers are describing it as a World of Assassination, allowing the players to make custom contracts to share with the world. Simply go into a mission, highlight a target and kill them in a specific way, doing so to more targets if you so wish. Once completed, you save the contract, give it a name and description and let the world have their way with it. Besides contracts, there are also Escalation contracts that start off with a simple target kill and increase in difficulty to 5 stars and add in collection of items or disposal of more targets. Elusive Targets are also mentioned but not released as of yet.
Overall Thoughts and Feelings
HITMAN is one of the better games in the series, taking out the linearity of levels imposed by Absolution. You can go in the front, back, underground, climb the walls, go through the side entrance that requires an invitation, along with plenty of starting positions. Allowing player made contracts, on top of adding their own exclusive ones, really adds a lot of things to do in the game besides from the short story mode, it was something lacking from MGSV: GZ that players had to do themselves, like no kill runs and kill everything runs.
I completed the Paris level quite a few times, reaching mastery rank 18 out of 20 and still finding more things to do in it. One of the flaws with the game is that you can’t replay it too often in one sitting, as it does feel more akin to a Roguelike that is punishing you and forcing you to restart the mission to level up higher. Removing the checkpoint system is a welcome change, but allowing so many saves in the level makes it feel too easy, maybe adding in restrictions to the amount of saves you can make would up the ante.
HITMAN episode 1 gets an 8/10, there are a few nit-picks here and there due to it being an early release type game, with a few bugs and glitches showing their heads too often. The story is slow to start and with so little of it there isn’t much to get immersed in. Gameplay is smooth and much improved upon from previous games, but it has become easier and easier with each release, I can still go through the level gunning everyone down. Replayability in this game is incredibly high, which is a nice thing to have in a game that is so short right now. If the bugs are patched and the quirks of the levels tuned up, then the game is a closer to a 9.