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Hitman: Episode 1 Review – A Return to Form

As I crept through the innards of the yacht in pursuit of my target, I had a couple of thoughts. The first was fairly simple: how was I going to kill him this time? Should I poison his drink and simply stroll off the boat undetected, or should I opt for more a hands on approach and possibly endanger the (training) mission? The second thought; it feels good to be back in the shoes of Agent 47, and for the first time in a while, it feels right.

Hitman‘s episodic format might confuse some, so let’s break it down as best we can. “Paris” is the first of seven episodes (Italy, Marrakesh, Thailand, America, Japan, and a secret place will follow) with the following releasing once a month. The Intro Pack includes both Paris and the prologue (a couple of tutorials) and costs $14.99, with every location after that costing $9.99. Alternatively, you can buy the entire game at once for $59.99, and if you wish to be patient, there will be a physical version releasing early next year, although it won’t feature the online challenges and will be missing some extras.

The level that was built for the opening game is wonderful. It’s a gigantic, flashy party that’s set in a Parisian palace featuring a copious amount of hidden areas, routes, and things to do. While the dialogue in the game isn’t exactly up to par with previous versions (I found myself getting bored listening to the conversations of the patrons), it isn’t enough to take away from how well crafted the level is. If you’re someone who is content with finishing your playthrough after killing the target once, then you might find that Paris is an incredibly short experience.

However, that would be doing a disservice to the game, as the developers have snuck in a seemingly endless amount of ways for you to sneak about to complete your mission. I’ve been playing for several hours now and still find myself coming across brand new areas and routes that I didn’t even know existed previously. And besides, who plays Hitman and only kills someone once? You’re not playing the game just to find someone and shoot them (though, you could do that, I suppose).

hitman feature

Instead, you’re playing to find the myriad of ways to kill someone. The goal shouldn’t be to leave your target dead, but to kill them in a way that leaves everyone saying “whoa.” Games like this are all about the setup and rarely the payoff. Watching a carefully orchestrated assassination attempt succeed is infinitely more rewarding than simply shooting someone. This is something Hitman understands and delivers on immensely.

While the game does involve you killing someone, there is an almost James Bond-like feel when playing this game. Agent 47 is a perfectly trained killing machine and watching him incapacitate someone is spell binding at times. Hitman isn’t incredibly difficult, but there are many difficulty options for gamers who want a challenge (the highest of which gives you no onscreen guidance or help). For those less inclined to playing near-blindfolded, there is the inclusion of an eagle vision-esque ability to highlight your target and any items that may be of use to you in your quest.

Normally, in past Hitman titles, the A.I. is usually what stands out as the worst. Thankfully this has been improved greatly in this game, and enemies now are much more aware of your presence. A brand new trespass system allows enemies to notice any mistakes you might have made; wearing the wrong outfit or being in the wrong place will trigger the enemies and blow your cover. Should you completely botch the mission, enemies will go crazy trying to find you, and will even relay to each other what you look like or were wearing. It’s incredibly fun to watch play out, and makes it even more rewarding when you successfully carry out a plan.

As far as extras go, the game is chock-full of them. Aside from guns, there are other items to kill with like wrenches, crowbars, and poison. There’s tons of other goodies included to enhance your experience: tons of challenges that unlock new equipment, rewards for killing your target in a certain manner, and “Contracts,” which allows other players to place a bounty on an NPC and have you try to kill it. While the game featured some bugs (you don’t have to play online, but the game has kicked people when their internet goes down) like glitchy frame rates and a weird online system, it’s still the best Hitman in a long time.

When the news first released that Hitman was going to go the episodic route, there were tons of differing opinions on whether or not it was a good idea. I didn’t care one way or another, but I never thought that my biggest “con” for this game would be that it was episodic. The debut episode delivered on the thrill and enjoyment that the series prides itself on, and should leave anyone who plays it very excited for the follow up episodes.

This review of Hitman is based on a digital copy for the PS4 which was provided by Square-Enix.

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