Professional assassin Agent 47 returns to form in Hitman, eschewing previous series formats in favor of releasing missions episodically — and it’s paying off tremendously. Whether you’re a fan of the franchise or new to the Hitman series, this is a fantastic title to sit down with.
You have the perfect plan. You’ve found the mark, and you know he’s fond of drinking socially — a little rat poison slipped into his cocktail will soon send him running to the bathroom. Cautiously, you wait until his attention is elsewhere, distracted by some trophy or other while you spike the drink. You hang back, ready to follow the target, smiling to yourself as his stomach begins to churn. He makes a dash for the bathrooms; you casually follow, ready to drown him in the toilet water as he vomits. A tragic accident of overdrinking, after all.
A return to perfect form
We’ve had a variety of players try Hitman out, from experienced “I’ve been the whole series” to those who are new to the genre, and it’s been a hit with everyone; consensus is that this is possibly the best Hitman title yet.
Hitman‘s missions are spread across multiple episodes, which are being released gradually over time. While this seems like a strange idea at first, this has actually worked in Hitman‘s favor two-fold. The episodic nature lets players grab a light edition of Hitman with just the first episode, so you’re able to get your feet wet and see if it’s a game you’d enjoy at a lower price point.
Secondly, having episodes spread out this way gives developers IO Interactive more time to flesh out each location, and when compared to earlier titles the difference is night and day. Locations are large and open for exploration, far bigger than those in previous games and rich in opportunities. While previous game Absolution was very linear in its missions, Hitman returns to the sandbox approach of older games in the series, giving you the freedom to explore, plan and strike as you desire.
Pairing well with the new-found freedom, each mission is accompanied by a massive array of challenges for you to tackle. These range from unusual executions — such as taking someone out by dropping a light rig on them or shooting them down with an antique cannon — to the classic tasks of clearing missions and departing without ever being discovered. As ever, the highest challenge comes from completing missions without using any disguises, without being spotted, without having bodies found, and without killing anyone besides your target. This is very, very hard.
The sandbox nature of Hitman‘s episodes adds a strong layer of replayability to the game, and as you progress through an episode’s challenges you’ll unlock additional starting points and equipment, leading to new assassination opportunities and approaches to clearing the mission.
If the array of feats and challenges isn’t enough, you can head over to contracts, which are an endless supply of community created missions.
Kill that cameraman
You’re able to create a contract by playing through any location, marking any character you wish and assassinating them however you wish; once you’ve finished and escaped, you can share that contract with the world, and other players can tackle the same targets to see if they can do better.
Contracts have leaderboards, with bonus points for fast playthroughs and being undetected, as well as mimicking the disguises and kill methods the contract creator originally used.
Furthermore, you’ll occasionally get elusive contracts — these are unique, one-shot missions from the developers with distinct rules and real-world time limits. These targets are undetectable normally, and you’ll have to explore, eavesdrop and be attentive in order to find and identify your target.
When an elusive contract goes live, you’ll have 48 hours of real time to take on the mission and eliminate the target; once time is up, it’s gone forever. To complicate things further, you’ll only get one good try at the mission. If the target escapes or you’re killed, the contract expires, and savegames are disabled. If you fancy yourself as an expert Hitman player, elusive contracts are a great way to test your skills of rapid adaptation. We’ve had a lot of fun with them.
Hitman is a return to greatness, taking the best elements of the franchise and dropping them into massive sandbox environments which serve as the ideal playground for master assassins. Multitudes of execution methods and setups, complex missions, and the community contracts come together to make a rich, challenging title that will satisfy the most diehard Hitman fan.