HITMAN, the rebooted Agent 47 sequel. With conversation focusing on the odd release strategy of this AAA stealth game, does the gameplay stand up by Blood Money standards? Accidentally scroll down to find out!
Developer: IO Interactive
Publisher: Square Enix
Release Date: March 11th, 2016
Platform: Xbox One
Copy provided by publisher
The latest entry to one of the longest standing stealth franchises is finally upon us. Hitman, right alongside the classic Splinter Cell games, was the series that made me fall in love with the stealth genre. Then in 2006, Hitman: Blood Money released. To date it is one of my all-time favorite video games. The freedom, the accident kills, the disguises, and the vast differences between each level. I loved it all.
Six years later, Hitman Absolution launched. IO took a very different approach with Absolution, as many stealth games seem to do. Straying away from the slow, planning process of Blood Money in favor of a more action-oriented game. It did, however, sport a newly polished look and more fluid controls. But there was always a lingering question of “why?”. Why did you have to change the formula of a perfect recipe? Why did you have to cater to non-Hitman fans? Why!
With this rebooted Agent 47, IO seems to have taken the best of both worlds. Back again are the large, open, and assassination driven missions of Blood Money. Yet the graphics and fluid controls of Absolution remain.
The game launches with three missions in total: prologue, training, and Paris. Each one much larger than the last. The true mission, Paris, which will likely be the size of the forthcoming additional missions, is HUGE. There is so much going on it’s almost overwhelming. But this is classic feel of a Hitman game. Which disguise should you choose? Which weapons? Finding secret paths, overhearing important details, and setting up the perfect kill are what Hitman is all about. And the Paris mission delivers in all aspects.
By default the game tries to hold your hand. It really, really, REALLY tries to hold your hand. Opportunities are the name given to, well, opportunities in Hitman. Some lead to accidental kills, while others lead to disguises, hidden paths, and more. Here’s where the hand holding comes in to play. Once you stumble across the start of one of these the game prompts you to “track” the opportunity. By track it means placing a waypoint to each and every step of the opportunity. It’s essentially an line for you to follow and feel rewarded at the end. After trying this once in the tutorial mission I immediately turned it off along with the Instincts mode.
Aside from the three missions there are also Contracts, Challenges, Escalation mode, and leaderboards. Attempting to complete all of the different opportunities and challenges in each mission truly does make replaying each mission worth it. The Paris mission especially has a lot of different ways of completing it.
The biggest issue with HITMAN is not the release strategy, it’s the servers. There is nothing worse than being right in the middle of a mission and being kicked back to the main menu because you lost connection to the servers. This isn’t too big of a deal during a story mission thanks to auto and manual saves, but it’s extremely frustrating during Contracts and Escalation which don’t allow saves. One disconnect and there goes all your progress.
The release strategy is a point the has to be brought up though as it is so unusual for a game of this style. The initial release comes with One true mission, one smaller mission, and a training mission. After that there will be one large mission each month for the next two months which concludes the first season. The second season has yet to be fully detailed but talks of a Japan and U.S. mission have been mentioned. I personally don’t care for this strategy for Hitman but I can’t shake the feeling that it was either this or nothing. And if that was the case I’d rather play Hitman than not. At the very least, there is always the option to wait until it is all out.
The initial launch of HITMAN is very promising. The Paris mission is on par with Blood Money missions and the various challenges, escalations mode, and contracts make for tons of replayability. The biggest issue as of now is the servers and what essentially equates to an always-online structure. But the gameplay holds as a true Hitman sequel. Only time will tell if the full experience can keep pace.
This review will be updated with future content releases.
+ Blood Money style missions
+ Huge Paris mission
+ Escalation and Contracts
– Always online servers