‘Globetrotting…one episode at a time.’
Replay-value, thats the one thing I look for when playing a Hitman game. Coming into the new Hitman ‘reboot’ felt worrisome in some aspects. The previews seemed to peak my interest, but I always wondered if the franchise would ever capture the same creativity and endless environmental tinkering that say Blood Money once had. As soon as I started playing, I was hooked. The first part in a episodic release from developer IO Interactive may seem brief and shallow at face value(especially with the $60 price tag), but once you dig deep there is treasure to be had.
The first episode consists of two missions. The first mission is set twenty years back to when Agent 47 was first honing in his skills. Set in a undisclosed training facility, Diana Burnwood, 47’s handler, teaches the player through core mechanics of gameplay. After that, the second mission takes 47 to Paris. The Paris level is where Hitman’s sense of scale is in full effect. Once the mission starts, the first thing that towers ahead of you is the giant mansion in which your mission is located. The building consists of three stories, each level providing a different level of security. Which means different levels of infiltration for the player.
Gameplay is the first thing that has been improved. Hitman veterans will remember the same fun mechanics as previous titles albeit with a little less ‘Absolution’. Dragging bodies and hiding them, as well as changing clothing feels a whole lot smoother compared to previous entries. Hitman feels like a blend of previous games, two that come to mind are Blood Money and Absolution. This reboot has the basic core mechanics of Blood Money, but with a fresh Glacier engine coating of Absolution. The instant lock-on kill-cams from Absolution are also nowhere to be seen. Instead the basic means of assassination are limited as far as combat. In my opinion this provides an extra layer of difficulty. Any player can go in guns-blazing (though it will be difficult), but the main focus is on stealth. Using the stealth approach encourages the player to mix and match different scenarios to work at his/her way.
Speaking of Absolution, contracts mode returns, providing even more variety in the spice of death. Besides contracts mode, the main story offers certain challenges that encourage the player to play in a way thats non-conventional, i.e. killing a target by dropping the one target on another. Hitman’s slick assassinations are not all clean and professional. With all the planning and calculation that comes with executing a mission, there are design hiccups.
One of the biggest drawbacks with the presentation is the reliance on server connection to get the “full” experience of the game. Throughout my multiple play through’s I kept getting disconnected from IO’s servers. Just imagine approaching your target after minutes upon minutes of planning just to be booted back to the home screen. Not only that, but challenges and progression systems that add to the experience are only available once connected. This can come at an annoyance for some, but once the servers issues are fixed, the game becomes a blast to play. There is also the problem of long load times, so long, in fact, I got up and made a sandwich, by the time I got back the game still wasn’t done loading. This is detrimental to player because if mistakes were made during your play through and you have to restart, the long load times can damper the experience. Hitman’s promise is showing, its whether or not the future releases will provide the same variety that has been presented to me.
*originally written on March 24, 2016