When Square Enix announced that the Hitman game which is scheduled for this year would be episodic, the community looked on in horror. With development costs skyrocketing and developers in urgent need to find more interesting ways to generate cash, the episodic route Hitman took may be a hit or miss with core fans. I myself was skeptical about how this would play out, and if the content which was planned would be sufficient to validate this cost of purchasing the game every week/month/whenever.
Agent 47, your character is a Hitman for the ICA. The organization is hired by the CIA, MI6 and others to take out targets which they deem to be ‘threats’. The game starts off with a rather hilarious bit of gameplay where you ‘walk’ into the bunker so you can watch a cutscene. Agent 47 is under investigation for some reason, presumably a mission gone wrong, and you will play through the past missions until you get to the bottom of what happened.
The game does a great job setting the atmosphere, making you feel like you are a paid assassin. It allows you to plan ahead, choose where you would infiltrate the area and which weapons you take along with you. The first few missions is ‘training’ exercises allowing you to use your imagination before it gets real. Unfortunately many of the ‘planning’ parts are locked until you finished certain missions and objectives, making the experience quite bland. Since when do you have to kill a bad guy atleast once to be able to decide which gun you take along with you?
The game allows you to play through two training missions, then one actual hit in the first Episode. The first hit, takes you to Paris where you have to kill two targets. There are several opportunities that open themselves up to you as you walk around in these areas. However the worlds are quite stale and predictable, for instance many of the NPC units walk around in circles, as if they’re not at a very busy Fashion show. The one target which you were tasked to kill, walked around in a wide predictable pattern while encountering the same conversations every time. I know it’s not assumed that the player will indefinitely roam behind and NPC, but a bit more varying paths would have made it more interesting, especially from the point of planning an execution.
The biggest disappointment was the fact that the game was over before I really started enjoying it.
Controls wise the game is incredibly solid. However there are a few issues I have with it. Whenever you pick up a weapon, it allows you to drop the weapon but there are no option to hide the weapon. You either have to move over to carrying around coins or be regarded as suspicious for being a Stylist carrying around a silenced pistol.
Other than that the missions allow you to be creative and decide how you will go about executing your targets. The game allows for the guns blazing option, however you will quickly be overwhelmed by security guards. One thing I found quite annoying was the fact that NPC units wouldn’t notice someone getting loudly murdered behind their back. I would suggest a noise marker in the game where people in the vicinity of the crime would atleast hear someone being wrestled to the ground, forcing you to be a bit more stealthy.
I did like the addition of NPC’s recognizing their fellow soldiers/staff et al. In the game there are certain people who is best to be avoided as they know each person on their staff and would recognize you for being an outsider.
Besides the fact that the game feels like getting one of those sample sausages at the mall instead of the full blown product, the game gives a very enjoyable experience overall. But like any game there are a few issues that break immersion. The game fails to set an urgency and being caught is not an issue as long as you change clothes before someone shoots at you. It seemed like everyone was in a repeating pattern, even after a body was found, making it feel like your actions don’t have an effect on how the NPC units would act. In games such as Assassins Creed for instance, the NPC targets would run away/flee, or double up on guards so the difficulty increases. NPC units also seem quite ‘stupid’ in this game, and they seem to be easily fooled.
Hitman misses and hits all the targets at the same time. So far it’s quite enjoyable, but somehow feels broken and empty. Let’s hope the next Episode brings some extra content that makes it worth the while. The online aspect of the game is pretty annoying, with the servers disconnecting every few minutes. Let’s hope Square Enix took some of the lessons learned in this first installment and make it better.
*The Reviewer finished and/or played the game to such an extent to give an informed opinion on the game and its content