Hitman Review

Written by Jake Tucker

March 14, 2016 | 13:37

Tags: #action #episodic #hitman #stealth #third-person

Companies: #square-enix

Hitman Review

This can be helped with the games opportunity system, a handful of scripted assassinations in each level that you can engage with. You might dress up as a supermodel to get a meeting with a target, or perhaps attend a meeting between a Russian FSB agent and your target as a bodyguard before tossing him into the river. The scripting won't be for everyone, and it hampers the illusion of a living world somewhat, but it can be a good way to help you feel your way around a level for the first time.

While the first two tutorial levels feel like the more standard Hitman experience (Infiltrate a boat party, take out a double agent on a military base) the first level of Hitman 2016 proper is an entirely new experience: for a start you actually have a whole lot of access, able to explore a lot of the fashion show and manor grounds that make up the first floor, and if you manage to snag an invite to the shadowy auction of secrets taking part on the top floor, you can explore up there too, without ever having to change your disguise.

It's a giant mission with a lot of different variables and as a result clearing the gigantic level for the first time could take you an hour or two, more if you have patience enough to explore the situation beforehand.

Subsequent playthroughs may not get any faster, but they will add more options to the mix, you could be offered a new weapon or a new opportunity. One of the best new additions is the series of drop locations and starting locations. You could choose to drop a pistol for yourself in one of the top floor bathrooms, or perhaps start undercover, working away in the mansion's kitchens or as a stylist in the fashion show. You could always organise a drop for yourself, but here there are so many extra options - starting out inside a restricted area with all of your gear opens up a bunch of new ways to play.

This is how I've spent most of my 30 hours or so with the game, testing out new ideas and trying to kill my target in a variety of different ways. Just this evening, before putting the review together, I realised that by stealing a fireworks remote from the technicians deck I could start a firework display early. The fun really started when I realised that by triggering the display I could get my two targets to come out to see why their expensive firework show was going off in the middle of the day while everyone was inside. If I could find a way onto the tower overlooking the balcony I could take the two down with a sniper rifle without even having to be inside the house.

Hitman Review

That's one of 30 or 40 different plans I've tried and executed, and it's a shame that I've found myself diving so deep into the game's primary missions because there's more content there. The return of Hitman Absolution's Contract mode makes the most of the depth in each location to let players create their own hits. Io interactive have gone first here, making Elusive Contracts that escalate in difficulty. Only the first is live currently, and has you assassinating a KGB colonel in the middle of a military base. Successful completion of this contract will see you having to do that while also robbing safes, wearing specific outfits and later on, murdering additional targets.

What I couldn't try out though, was the Elusive Target mode. Elusive targets are targets that will come and go throughout the life of Hitman's game, and you'll have one attempt to take them out. If they die? They're dead for good. If they escape however, you'll have lost the chance to bag them forever. Targets will never be rotated again, so it might keep you coming back again and again.

Hitman Review

I enjoyed Hitman, and I think that the episodic nature is going to keep me coming back to the game again and again to pull and prod at the game's systems. If you're the type of person that wants to devour a game whole, you might want to wait till the disc based release coming next year. It's hard to put a score on what is, by its own admission, an unfinished game, and with that much still up in the air I'm not able to slap one of our recommended stickers at the bottom of the review - but this tiny slice is the finest Hitman title so far, and if they can keep the quality this high, I think a lot of people will enjoy it.
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