Due to the episodic nature of the latest Hitman title Matt will be reviewing this over a 12 month period. Matt will hold off on his final judgement until all the planned content is released but in the mean time you can check out his thoughts on the initial release below.
Hitman – Review in Progress
PS4, Xbox One, PC
The Hitman series has always been a franchise I appreciated from a distance. I have always admired the way the game allowed players to tackle each assassination in their own way, using the environment and careful planning as much as their own skill. The problem being for me however was I never quite enjoyed it on a personal level. My approach to stealth games is one that has served me well throughout countless Splinter Cell titles and that is to kill everything that moves before they can raise the alarm. This immediately conflicts with the gameplay on offer in the Hitman franchise as playing the game in this manner would spell certain doom for Agent 47. But in playing the latest game, simply titled Hitman, I had something of an epiphany. I have been thinking about the game in the wrong way all these years. Hitman isn’t at stealth game but a puzzle game that uses stealth as a puzzle solving device. Once that realisation struck (yeah alright I get it, not the sharpest tack in the box) I began to look at that bar coded bald head in a brand new light.
The newest version of Hitman is a love letter to the classic games in the franchise (mainly Blood Money) and it embraces Agent 47 in a way that Absolution failed to. It has however come with a new structure which feels like a little bit of a gamble on Square Enix’s behalf. Instead of getting a full Hitman game right out of the gate, it is has taken on an episodic structure, similar to that of a Telltale game. The initial pack contains two training missions and one full level set in Paris with more levels set to arrive on a monthly basis. There is the option to purchase the game piecemeal as the levels are released or the full game can be purchased with something akin to a season pass. I honestly don’t know how this change in approach will go for the series. I can’t help but think that most people will hold off until most, if not all, of the content is available and purchase it then.
If this were to happen it would be a shame because what is available is top notch. Both the training missions gave me an excellent grasp on Agent 47 and really helped to change my thinking towards the franchise. This is something the previous games have lacked and I was instantly thankful for it. Once I reached the main Paris mission I had a great idea of what to expect but I was almost scared out of playing by the sheer size of the task ahead of me. Two targets both in different areas of a fashion show in a private mansion, thousands of party goers and staff and private security everywhere. It was daunting but taking my time and knowledge I gained from the tutorials I began in earnest.
My first run through saw me approach things from a standard perspective. Both targets taken out by watching their patterns, hiding and shooting them with a silenced pistol. Effective but hardly the point of a Hitman game. The second time through I managed to loosen a chandelier to kill one target and a nasty fireworks accident took care of the other. Poison became my weapon of choice in the third play through and a nice piece of garrotting wire the fourth. I am simply astounded by the huge amount of options I had at my disposal to achieve my goal. The great thing is that almost everything I thought of as a possible way of executing a target was available to me in game. I am sure that there are many more ways for me to kill my prey and I am itching to get in and discover them.
I am going to leave this review here and I will be checking back once some more content is released. Currently there isn’t a lot on offer in Hitman but what is available is of a super high quality that fans of the franchise (and even non fans such as myself) will instantly fall in love with. If Square Enix can keep up this level of excellence for each new map then Hitman will undoubtedly go down as the best game in the franchise. At this point in time I would say it is a must buy for fans but the curious may want to simply purchase the first level or wait until more content is available.