Hitman Season One Review
When IO Interactive announced that the newest Hitman release would not be released like all of the other Hitman games, but would instead be released episodically there was an initially negative reaction to this. After getting my hands on the intro pack which consisted of a training mission as well as the first location, Paris, my nerves were settled as I soon realised that we were left with a sumptuous world filled where the only limit was your imagination. The Hokkaido episode that just released was the final scheduled bit of content for Hitman, but did the rest of the episodes live up to that initial promise or were we left wondering what could have been?
Sapienza – Episode two of Hitman takes you to the sunny town of Sapienza. It’s here where I can safely say I had the best time out of all of the various locations I visited. While the Paris location helped you grasp the scale of just how much freedom you have to tackle your targets, it’s in Sapienza where you truly feel free. What initially seems like a quaint Italian coastal town soon turns into something out of a James Bond movie. You can explore almost every building you see and just when you think you are familiar with your surroundings you often end up stumbling across a whole new area. There are some wonderfully ingenious ways of killing your targets; one of my many playthroughs had me switch out a golf ball for one that explodes when hit. Another playthrough had me shooting a target out of the sky with a cannon. The only downside to such a wonderful mission coming so soon into the release schedule for Hitman is that it set the bar rather high for the rest of the content that had to follow.
User friendly – One of the worries I had when Hitman was announced as an episodic title was that the control scheme would be rather complicated so after a month or so away from the game it would take me some time to get back into the swing of things. Fortunately that fear never came to fruition as Hitman has a very good control scheme that can be picked up after just a few minutes of play time. Another neat addition is the menu that allows you track unique assassination opportunities. By simply going into the menu and selecting the opportunity you want to try it adds all the necessary waypoint markers onto your screen which cuts out a lot of trial and error without ever oversimplifying things. If you are struggling to find your targets you can use the instincts mode. Using this changes the world around you to a greyish/black but items of importance, suspicious or hostile guards and your assassination targets all glow in a multitude of colours making them very easy to identify.There were a few isolated incidents where a button input would do something slightly different to what I had intended to do but it was very infrequent and never hindered me for more than a second or so.
Elusive targets – The inclusion of elusive targets is one of my favourite features in Hitman. Elusive targets are a timed exclusive where you have only a few real life days to find and assassinate whoever IO Interactive has marked for murder. You are given a picture so you know what they look like but the rest is then solely down to you as a player. If you are unable to kill the elusive target before the time runs out you then forever lose that opportunity. Although you can play the entire game without ever trying to kill any of these targets I strongly suggest you do as it really can test your creativity and is very rewarding when you manage to pull off a hit.
Sheer depth of content – One thing that IO Interactive and Square Enix can’t be accused of is skimping on the amount of content, as you really do get value for money with this release of Hitman. As well as the six episodes they promised us there was also a bonus summer episode. It may have reused a location Agent 47 had already visited but it was very creatively used so there was no sense of déjà vu. Every location has been supported with new escalation missions, online contracts and elusive targets (as I already mentioned) meaning that you can literally spend hundreds of hours without ever running out of things to do.
Achievements that encourage exploration and creativity – Achievements aren’t for everyone. Some people (myself included) will try and get all of the achievements and gamerscore from every game they play. Others however will see them as nothing but a gimmick that doesn’t interest them. Hitman has one of the most creative achievement lists on the Xbox One as it encourages you to really explore every location as well as using some rather inventive ways to kill your victims. Every location has at least one achievement tied to a secret easter egg, and they are definitely worth taking the time to figure out. How many games give you an achievement for throwing an apricot at a soldiers head and turning on the radio, which triggers everyone in the location to dance like crazy? I ended up clocking over 75 hours while playing Hitman to get all the achievements and I rarely remember a time where I wasn’t enjoying myself.
Location variation – Another of the many things I love about this latest Hitman game is just how different every location has felt. Paris, Sapienza, Marrakesh, Bangkok, Colorado and Hokkaido are about as diverse as you could imagine which kept things feeling remarkably fresh. The guys from IO Interactive deserve a ton of credit as not only do the locations all feel very unique they also look absolutely incredible. The amount of detail in every environment is just staggering and full of life. Marrakesh in particular is full of literally hundreds of NPC’s and I don’t think I ever saw two people that looked the same.
Initial online issues – For the first few weeks of its life Hitman had quite a few connection issues due to it requiring a constant internet connection. However even if your internet connection was perfect you still ran the risk of being randomly disconnected for no apparent reason whatsoever. Although the auto save system is pretty generous it was still very annoying to have to keep restarting whenever this occurred. To their credit IO Interactive did fix this issue fairly quickly as well as adding the option of being able to attempt to reconnect without ever having to leave your game session, but it is something I can still remember even though I never saw the issue crop up again after a month or so of Hitman being released.
A.I idiocy –With so many NPCs and characters you can interact with it is almost an impossible task to ensure that every character in the game will react how they should however they can be wildly inconsistent at times. You can shoot someone and the person next to them will sometimes never even notice, yet when in a restricted area or trespassing it feels like you can be seen from some very obscure angles. I also didn’t like the fact that the guards in the game will automatically become suspicious of you if you are near a dead body even if there are 20-30 other people in the same room and nobody saw you commit the crime.
My only experience of playing a Hitman game before this came when I played Hitman Absolution on the Xbox 360 a few years ago so I can’t really compare it to some of the earlier entries in the series. However as a standalone game it is absolutely superb and up there with some of the best games I have ever played on any console, I’ll be very surprised if this doesn’t end up as my pick for game of the year for 2016.
Hitman was developed by IO Interactive and published by Square Enix. Episode one was released on Xbox One 11th March, 2016 with the rest of the episodes having released throughout 2016. Hitman is also available for Playstation and Steam. A press review copy was provided for The Hidden Levels. Many studios submit copies for site review but this is in no way factored into our review scores. Games are scored on their individual merits and our rating system is explained here.
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