Hitman Beta Impressions

Written by Jake Tucker

February 18, 2016 // 9:36 a.m.

Tags: #action #also-a-military-base #boat #hammertime #hitman #im-on-a-boat #killing #square-enix #third-person

Hitman Beta Impressions (Thursday)  Hitman Beta Impressions
Click to enlarge

Hitman's come under a lot of fire recently for its confusing release model. So much fire, in fact, that many people have forgotten to ask the most important question: Is Hitman (2015) more like the beloved Hitman: Blood Money or the kind-of pants Hitman: Absolution?

This weekend's Beta let players get their hands on the game's two tutorial missions, retelling the story of Agent 47's training with the shadowy ICA agency and include taking down former Spy "The Sparrow" and Chess prodigy turned Soviet Spy Jasper Knight. These aren't real missions but a greatest hits compilation of ICA missions for 47 to train in that includes plywood sets and painted water.

Sneak around the side of the boat owned by the stuntman playing the role of "The Sparrow" and you can see curtains hung up around the back of the silo housing this strange play, designed to look like sky - toss a body overboard and chuckle darkly to yourself as they hit the blue painted concrete and lay there, staring upwards, glassy eyed. I mean, they're stuntmen, so I've not really killed anyone, have I?

Agent 47's ease with collateral damage - the widespread murder of innocents to clean up his mess - seems to have been scaled back somewhat now that there's a non-lethal option. Garotting someone is still spectacularly brutal, but if you feel like being kinder you can hit anyone with a blunt object to take them out of the fight gently.

Hitman Beta Impressions (Thursday)  Hitman Beta Impressions
Click to enlarge

The amount of AI supported in the levels has been scaled up, so there are now up to 300 AI's operating at full capacity, walking around the place and having conversations. These will have routines you can learn and exploit. Then there's a host of extras who just have the most basic of reactions: screaming in terror and running away, or witnessing a crime and running off to find the closest person with a gun to come and resolve it.

It's the screams of terror that have always unnerved me the most. After finding an Assault Rifle and taking down every security guard on The Sparrow's boat in an ambush on the gangway, I had to board the boat to find my target. What I was faced with was around 50 unarmed guests, cowering at one end.

"No witnesses" I muttered, ready to execute the lot of them, but I couldn't do it.

Hitman is a spectacularly violent game, but not in a flashy way - it's the cold brutality of the thing. The way you execute a guard smoking a cigarette with a single round to the back of the head, or take out a witness by burying a knife in their guts. This relationship with violence is a little jarring in tone. I think this is actually a good thing, because you find yourself having to justify a kill to yourself before you pull the trigger on an unarmed piece of code.

As a game, it impressed. The systems underpinning your murderous machinations are robust with there being plenty of different approaches you can take, both loud and quiet.

Hitman Beta Impressions (Thursday)  Hitman Beta Impressions
Click to enlarge

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