Fun ways to Kill!
Hitman at its' finest, hundreds of disguises, hundred of weapons hundreds of routes, one goal.
Are you ready, Agent 47?
The Hitman series has donned numerous disguises over the past decade or so; its attempt to retain relevancy with newcomers while regaining the cult status has been a mark that has been missed throughout its many iterations, in some cases with the studio opting to branch out in to different, withal similar play-styles. In many ways, IO Interactive’s latest murder simulator – simply titled Hitman – is a real return to form, but it can’t resist another interesting outfit to add a unique spin to the proceedings. This time, it’s a seven-part episodic release structure that promises new missions up until the end of the year. A design choice that both excites and urks me, mainly the latter.
With this first release, you get three unique locations in which to experiment, plan and execute your mission. The first two – a pair of not-insubstantial prologues, one set on a party boat and the other in a relatively large military facility – serve to sufficiently test your skills. They’re smartly implemented, framed as flashbacks to when Agent 47 first entered the agency known as the ICA and became acquainted with his franchise-long handler, Diana Burnwood, who acts as your guide for the early portion of the game.
Once you’ve successfully taken down the prologue targets it’s time for the main event: Showstopper, a glitzy fashion show taking place in an enormous Parisian mansion, complete with towering staircases, a neon-lit catwalk with heavy techno blasting from the rafters, numerous bars rife for mingling with literally dozens of unsuspecting guests and an array of beautiful gardens. Your targets – the mogul head of a fashion design house called Sanguine, and his wife – are also moonlighting as ringleaders of a sinister organisation called IAGO. Sadly, this new game’s episodic structure doesn’t really do its narrative any favours, and while a couple of slickly directed cut-scenes set the mission in motion, the game’s mechanics come out standing strongest rather than its somewhat disjointed story. There’s simply not enough time to devote care to a plot, and while that may change over the next few months, right now IAGO and its members are just pawns for you to murder.
Showstopper is vast, far bigger than either of the two prologues, with a remarkable attention to environmental detail that creates a terrific sense of place. Walking into the front entrance wearing a gorgeous midnight blue tuxedo, flashing your faked-invite to the security guards, you feel truly like a badass – a Bond-esque figure that’s here to do serious harm, and to look cool while doing so.
Ultimately, Hitman’s current mileage is going to vary depending on your openness to experimentation. But as a statement of IO’s intent with this reboot, this is a confident first episode that invites you into the flashy world of murder with one of the most sumptuous, devilishly delightful levels ever seen in a Hitman game. Time will tell whether the subsequent packs will allow Hitman to regain its once-revered status, admittedly this is a fantastic start.