An episodic experiment or a strange new way of delivering quality DLCs, that’s what IO Interactive’s HITMAN was or is. Episodes 1 through 6 were all quite different, the first few episodes started off with a decent set of missions. This helped redeem the franchise which had taken a slight beating with Hitman: Absolution. Honestly, we found more value in using Hitman: Absolution for our graphics card benchmarks than for its gameplay. Essentially, HITMAN in this episodic series is IO Interactive’s way of going back to what they did with Hitman Bloody Money but with a lot more meat.
It feels gooooood …
Like the previous games in the franchise, HITMAN has a central storyline and each mission is all about leveraging what Agent 47 does best – killing. How you go about doing the same is entirely up to you. There’s is the stealthy way when you observe your mark, eavesdrop on their conversations, figure out their routes, calculate when they’d be isolated and farthest from help, and take them out, silently. Or you could don a cowboy hat and stand right in the middle of the level and go berserk. Let’s just say that the latter method doesn’t work out for the most as you’ll be swarmed and get your arse beat in a million ways before you can even exit the map.
Say hello to my silent friend
The franchise defining traits like the aforementioned stealth and apt disguises haven’t changed much. You can disguise yourself as your previous victim and slowly progress through the entire level without even getting recognised once. There’s no suspicion meter anymore so avoiding getting caught is even more difficult. Your disguise only ensures that you don’t arouse suspicion from afar, get too close to a guard wearing his buddy’s bloodstained uniform and he’s guaranteed to pop one right between your eyes.
Opportunities, opportunities everywhere
There are elaborate mechanics hidden in each level which allows you to set events in motion akin to a Rube Goldberg machine that eventually lets you kill your target. Ok, we’ve exaggerated a little there. But there is fun in electrocuting your target or taking him out with a cannon ball as he tries to escape in a seaplane. Previous games also had these mechanics, it’s just a little more fun in HITMAN. The game calls these hidden killing mechanisms as ‘Opportunities’. How politically correct …
In 3… 2… 1…
You can turn on Opportunities in the Gameplay options and we suggest picking ‘Minimal’ from the three choices. Setting it to ‘Full’ puts up blatantly obvious markers on the screen and just makes the game hand hold you through the level step by step, something we’ve come to hate when it comes to games these days. Minimal just tracks opportunities in the HUD but the markers are rendered invisible. This is sort of a middle ground as the last option completely turns it off and we’d hate for you to miss out on some entertaining executions.
Got any more of ‘em episodes?
Episode 1 (Paris) was, by all means, the most interesting, after all, if IO’s experiment had to succeed, the first episode had to hook you in. We thought it would go downhill after that given how studios have been using DLCs in the most uncouth manner possible. However, HITMAN Episode 2 (Sapienza) completely turned that around. It literally, was better than the previous episode. Episodes 3, 4 and 5 were quite good but not as good as the first two episodes. The last episode in the season picked up the pack once again to make for a fitting end.
Back to its roots
The outcome of this episodic approach is what gamers have been wanting for ages – DLCs that are actually done eight. The only downside was that Episode 1 didn’t feel up to the mark. Then again, it didn’t cost as much as a AAA title which made things better. Each episode feels packed with plenty of missions and opportunities. There is replayability value given that you’d perhaps want to kill the same person over and over again just so you can discover all the opportunities present in a particular mission. The initial episodes all have a similar look and feel. There’s a central building around which all the events take place. But later episodes mix things up and move the missions to different setups, thus, adding a bit of diversity. Paris and Sapienza feel a bit similar but Colorado and Hokkaido turn things around as mentioned earlier.
Verdict – HITMAN (2016) The Complete First Season Review
HITMAN with its new episodic structure does end up being a good game. Under the hood, each level is quite similar but the mechanics and opportunities end up being the redeeming factor. In a way, this game takes us back to Bloody Money. However, there are issues. We have no idea why a single player game like HITMAN has an online functionality. The challenges and unlocks simply don’t make for a good case. Perhaps, if IO does bring support for Steam Workshop then you’d be able to justify the online functionality but we doubt if it could ever attain the popularity of GTA V mods. The conversations can get quite monotonous as well.
|Platforms: Windows, PS4, Xbox One
Price: PC: Rs. 999; PS4: Rs. 3,499; Xbox One: Rs. 3,499
Reviewed on: PC
Developers: IO Interactive
Publishers: Square Enix
Aside from these little kinks, HITMAN is a well-done game. Something for which we wouldn’t mind loosening our purse strings. Each episode has plenty to go around and the replayability factor makes for hours of entertainment.
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