Okay it’s time for another strange review, where I must give my opinion on a game before I’ve played most of the content. This time it’s Hitman’s turn to become episodic with a full release on disc later in the year along with bonus content in the interim for people who download the game area by area.
This one goes right back to the beginning as Agent 47 is picked up by who is soon to become his handler at the ICA facility and put through some training missions based on a previous assassin’s exploits. There are just two scenarios for you to play through in this prologue, one set on a boat which actually looks like a movie set as you go about killing actors pretending to be people you can kill, and another one set on a Soviet base where you can think up all kinds of creative ways to kill people.
Before we get into the gameplay, I’d just like to breathe a sigh of relief that the graphics in this game look great. I was worried when I saw some earlier footage that things were going to look pretty awful but things have been polished a lot since then. It’s odd that some animations seem unfinished when you put people in closets though, it’s a bit jolting the way he doesn’t actually pick bodies up off the floor!
Okay, so what’s the gameplay like? Well, it’s what you’d expect if you played Absolution. You move through the environment and it’s up to you to play this deadly sandbox the way you want to. You can use special vision to see people through walls, including your mark glowing red, and then move through the crowd in disguises to access certain areas and pick up objects to help you kill people creatively. Poison, hammers, coins, wrenches and lock picks are left scattered around for you to find and use and there’s plenty of little things the game wants you to do, for which it gives you a big tick. For example, you can achieve things simply by distracting a guard or them finding a weapon on the floor. You also get bonuses for dressing up in every single outfit you can, or for just staying in your legendary suit and red tie combo.
Another interesting mechanic for people who may feel a bit overwhelmed by the freedom they have is Opportunities. Listen in on a conversation and a marker will appear on screen that will guide you through a number of things you have to do to get the kill. This could range from dressing as a guard to get to someone’s vodka so you can poison them and drown them in a toilet, to dropping a life raft on someone’s head. Failing that you could simply garrotte them the old fashioned way.
It really is very satisfying playing through this game slow and methodically, trying to replay the levels to achieve every way the game wants you to play. It’s a bit strange that somebody gets suspicious of you and then forgets about you almost immediately if you run round a corner but that is preferable to the game giving you an instant fail if you get spotted or no way to turn things around!
Contracts make an appearance again so you can create your own missions for people to play online and set the rules for how the kill should be achieved, and of course you can play other creations as well. IO Interactive will also be dropping elusive targets into areas which are only available for a limited number of hours. I’m not sure quite how that works yet but it’s an interesting idea.
I really like playing through Hitman levels. I like the pace and the morbid humour that arises when tracking a virtual victim and making them meet their maker in a number of fun and interesting ways. The problem is, I want it all now! Whilst there is replayability in the areas and missions, I also like story elements and putting a good weekend into playing through a game such as this. Oh well, I’m going to have to learn to be patient I suppose, and that can’t be a bad thing.
So here’s the tricky thing, giving this game a score based on what I think future content could bring. Based on what I’ve played, I’m going to play safe and give the game an excellent 8 out of 10.
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