Hitman Review: Killing with Style
The newest Hitman game has finally graced this current generation of consoles and it delivers for fans of the franchise . The game contains a prologue that is set 20 years before the beginning of the first Hitman game and a Paris mission set after Hitman: Absolution. Your objective in each mission is simple, assassinate the target(s) as surreptitiously as possible by any means necessary. This means using various disguises, sabotaging objects in the environment, and staging accidents to best take out the hit. Situations like this are what gives Hitman its essence and it is a new mechanic to the series that deserves praise. Hitman simply refers to these approaches as Opportunities and you have the option to toggle them on or off during missions. Opportunities are different approaches you can choose to take out your target, providing guidance and insight on missions.
The environments in the new Hitman game are epic in scale with a high attention to detail, giving players a lot to work with on their first playthrough. There are literally hordes of NPCs packed like sardines in every environment and each one of them is engaged in different activities like smoking a cigarette or messing around on a cellphone. Although I admired all of the activity, I felt as if they distract you from your assassinations, prompting you to listen to NPC dialogue to obtain more Opportunities.
Normally, I am all about choice and variety in video games but I believe Hitman offers too many options that do not go anywhere or may seem overwhelming for players who want to get into a stage and assassinate the target as fast as possible. This is most apparent in the Paris stage which is considerably larger than the prologue missions; it forced me to explore every corner of a gigantic map with so many options that I did not know the best one to take. Aside from my problems with environment size, I did enjoy how Hitman offered more realism to its missions; for example, while disguised as a waiter or a security guard, you can blend into your surroundings by pretending to sweep or tending a bar. Certain NPCs will also become suspicious of you depending on which disguise you change into so strategy and improvisation are the key to success in Hitman. Moreover, you can pick up additional items in the environment that are not in your inventory like wrenches and scissors to trigger accidents or to create quick diversions. These new gameplay features make the missions in Hitman feel more dynamic and natural, which is something the franchise has always needed.
Overall, the gameplay of Hitman requires a lot of trial and error and it requires a lot of patience if you ever want to take at your targets silently. Emphasis on patience because this a title where you will be doing a lot of waiting around for the best moment to strike due the sheer number of approaches at your disposal, making the game a little off-putting for newcomers to the series. The core appeal of Hitman is definitely for its main fan base because it offers seasoned players a lot more bang for their buck and gives them the challenge of conceiving the best strategy to assassinate the target in an environment filled to the brim with different weapons, disguises, and tools.
The controls in Hitman are responsive and fluid with little delay. You can conceal an equipped item in less than a second and dragging bodies is now ten times faster compared to Absolution or Hitman: Blood Money. You can even store and place items around the level to pick them up later or to distract a stubborn guard into leaving their post. The music and voice acting are top notch and do not stray from what the previous Hitman games built up so there is definitely a lot of gorgeous sounds and imagery here.
Perhaps the two biggest criticisms I have for Hitman is its division into episodes and its requirement to be connected online in order to play. The two prologue missions are pretty short and the Paris mission tries to maintain its replay value by having you go back into the mission to complete additional challenges. The condition to be constantly connected to the internet is also problematic because it virtually makes the game unplayable for anyone who does not have an internet connection, but is curious about the game. Although the online connections was implemented to prevent piracy, it is not enough to justify the exclusion of the offline demographic.
I cannot deny that Hitman is a solid title, but it is a game that would appeal more to people familiar with the franchise rather than newcomers. The episodic release of its content and its online support further cements that fact and forces players to wait for something that could have been included in one bundle, leaving them wanting more after replaying the same mission over and over again. If you are at all interested in the Hitman series, you better off exploring one of the older titles but if you are already into the series pick up this title and happy hunting.