IO Interactive have brought us the great Freedom Fighters and the not so great Kane and Lynch, but over the last 16 years it’s the Hitman series which has remained at the heart of the Danish development team now part of Square Enix’s empire.
The majority of the Hitman games have been firm favorites of mine, however the last outing ‘Hitman Absolution’ was a little disappointing, so I was a little skeptical after a 4 year wait and the more recent announcement that the new title would be episodic.
Delays in modern gaming aren’t as annoying as they where a few years ago, while some publishers push a game out unfinished and hope to patch the last few cracks with updates, others take the bold step of making an announcement and hoping the hype train continues and avid fans remain on board.
Hitman has built up a pretty large fan base over the years, and while casual gamer’s worried about the switch to an episodic release, others appreciated the extra development time IO where affording themselves.
Now, with the release of the Intro pack, we get our hands on everyone’s favorite bald guy (behind me of course), and beside the small, but detailed training section, you have the full first episode set in Paris.
The training section begins on a fancy yacht, with agent 47 tasked at taking down Kalvin Ritter, Initially you will need to switch disguises a few times which immediately set’s the series back on track with stealth and less of the action which was more prominent in Absolution.
First time round, you’ll breeze through this level, hidden behind the face of a mechanic, barman and then security guard, I was easily able to silently take down Ritter and an associate he was chatting to, before escaping to safety. soon after you have the option of running through again with a variety of challenges, such as dispatching your target in a specific way, or heading onto the second part of the prologue. It’s highly recommended you check out a few of the challenges, becasue this will be the first blink at the share openness of the game and the wealth of options to consider when taking down a target. I won’t spoil the fun, but with various interactions such as poisoning a drink, there’s far more to consider outside of your trusty silenced pistol and fiber-wire.
On to part two and you have to infiltrate a guarded hangar to eliminate Jasper Knight, this is a slightly shorter mission which equally has various ways to go about your dirty deeds, but these two sections do a great job of introducing you to the mechanics, and a few different strategies. Then it’s onto the main Episode of Paris, a large Villa which has a near endless list of ways to kill your two targets, the Paris stage set’s the game up nicely and feels more of a major section of the game than the earlier introduction.
While you’ll already be well aware that the graphics are great, not quite the best possible, but for the most part these run along nicely at 60fps. There’s also the option to lock the frame rate which seem to give the better overall performance because unlocked, you’ll suffer a little slowdown at times, especially when in some of the more populated areas.
As expected a next-gen Hitman will crowd more faces into an area, but never before have your surrounding patrons felt so real, each going on with their lives oblivious of your love for voyeurism and of course mercilessly killing your target.
While your on your travels, you may well think a random NPC has looked at your a little funny, or maybe you just think their Jacket looks stupid. and thankfully the game doesn’t just allow you to kill innocent bystanders, it actually rewards you with an entire mode known as Contracts.
When you kill a NPC within an episode, you can head to contracts mode, and set-up a your actions as a target for other players, Kill that guy on the corner, with a fiber-wire while wearing a certain disguise and you can task others with performing the same. This means you can’t set up ridiculous contracts, but the better you do, the more difficult you can make it for others to follow in your footsteps.
Along with the numerous challenges in each episode, this brings quite a lot of replay-ability to the table, and while the initial Intro pack might only last 2-3 hours, you can easily make that 20-30 hours if you want to chase down every challenge and make a living off setting up obscure contracts for your friends.
At around £13 this makes the Intro pack pretty good value for money, but with future episodes at £8, it could cost you over £50 whereas the complete package will set you back only £45.
You’re looking at a Jigsaw puzzle with no sides.
Hitman 2016, pieces together your experience, whether it’s working through the challenges, discovering alternate paths, or collecting XP to open new planning strategies, there’s a plenty more than meets the eye, and a very high quality picture that is sure to please players looking for a more tactical adventure.
Sadly it does leave you searching for those side-pieces, but the prospect of what’s to come, continuing your journey as agent 47, and constantly adding to the masterpiece, both with 5 more future episodes as well as promised free updates and modes, this is one game that might be worth considering in full before you purchase the intro pack to get the lower price point.