Platform: PS4 (Reviewed), Xbox One, PC
Genre: Stealth, Action-Adventure
Release Date: 3/11/2016
The long-awaited new-gen debut of Hitman is finally here, and developer IO Interactive has done a lot to make the game feel like the successful past games of the popular stealth franchise.
Hitman is the first of a multi-episode series that follows Agent 47 from his training with the International Contract Agency to a mission 20 years late in Paris where you have to infiltrate a fashion show, and take out your targets. The sandbox nature of the game is a nice feature that really makes you feel like you are taking care of business the way you see fit rather than going through linear missions.
The design of Paris in Hitman is absolutely stunning, and really shows off the power of new-gen gaming. The atmosphere is excellent, and the game features a number of different ways to complete the various tasks at hand. When turning off the in-game assists — like seeing through walls — players are forced to really think about ways to approach their targets as well as figuring out who around them is a viable threat to their cover.
There are three missions in episode one, but escalation missions are unlocked after completion. There is also the ability to create your own contracts like in Hitman: Absolution
The way you complete missions goes a long way towards earning rewards, and increasing the replayability of Hitman. With this being the first episode of a series, there isn’t anywhere else to go, making the way you execute your targets the main factor towards continuous play. Do you subtly take out your target with poison you found, or do you go physical with your approach? It’s all up to you.
As to be expected with games like this, the AI can be downright boneheaded. Far too often you’re able to sneak up on them while they appear to be looking right at you. There were even times where I shot targets in plain sight, and was still able to walk away with no issues. At one point, I took out a target, and just simply walked by two people who watched the whole thing like it was no big deal. Just once it would be nice for a game to have competent AI that makes sneaking up and infiltrating a location tougher.
The story also leaves a lot to be desired in this first episode with the cutscenes and the missions not really syncing up the way many would expect. With that said, the missions and gameplay itself make you forget about the cutscenes, and it just feels like the story will matter more once the second episode is released.
Though it’s likely not as brutal on PC and Xbox One, the loading times on the PlayStation 4 version of the game felt like they took longer than to complete the game itself. Hopefully a patch is released a la Bloodborne to improve the loading times because it’s just terrible right now. Also, the menu system itself can be pretty sluggish, which is a bummer.
Hitman is the start of a series that could be pretty successful. Though I’m not a fan of episodic video games, it can still be great if it’s done right. The first episode isn’t a must-play for gamers, but fans of the franchise will certainly find enjoyment out of what it brings to the table, especially the fact that you can tailor the experience to your liking.
Fans can download Hitman starting March 11. A disc version of the game won’t be available until 2017 when all episodes have been released.