Hitman: Intro Pack Review
A Light Read with Many Endings
As a young man, I had the pleasure of playing the very first Hitman: Codename 47 video game back on my PC. I had never played an assassin game with such freedom before. Whether I choked out a peeing guard or sniped the target from a shadowed window, I got to call the shots. IO Interactive delivers the latest installment in the franchise simply called Hitman, but this game is far from simple. Even though the intro pack only contained three missions (two training missions and one contract mission), there is easily 8 or more hours of assassin madness at your fingertips.
New assassins are put through a two stage training/tutorial at the ICA Facility before arriving in Paris. The trials are modeled after previous successfully executed hits by Agent 47; weird idea, great execution. The first time through your handler walks you through the steps to pull off the hit in “Guided Training” and right after players are given “Freeform Training”. Guided Training gives players a good idea of how to manipulate their surroundings: sneaking, luring enemies, hiding bodies, putting on disguises, and using items from inventory. All actions are aided by Agent 47’s “Instinct” view. Instinct provides Agent 47 with an inhuman eye for detail as items and people (including targets highlighted in red) can be seen through walls and floors. This mechanic isn’t new (Batman Arkham series), but is essential for sneaking from one area to another.
Even after you manage to acquire a disguise either by stripping a knocked out guard or raiding a locker, certain NPCs will be able to see through your rouse. Stay too long under their eye and you’re busted, but with alarms and other distractions to feed quick thinkers, players can escape any situation. Freeform Training invites players to try all sorts of solutions to previously solved bumps in the road. I recommend trying everything in your arsenal during Freeform Training, because with each new successful variation you’ll be completely new challenges and feats (I’ll get more into these later on in design). I enjoy the creativity in the tutorial stages; too many times now have I been bored out of my mind through dull intros and tedious tutorials.
Overall, the gameplay is fun and exciting. Sneaking feels seamless with options to slowly tip toe up behind people, or if spotted to dash-crouch behind cover. Unfortunately, there were times I was not-so-ninja and found myself at the end of a barrel. No need to fear; selecting the “Fake Surrender” option, my hands go up just to come down moments later as the cocky guard pulls out his handcuffs, knocking him to the floor. For Agent 47, arrest is not an option, so for this guard living isn’t either.
The most confusing aspect of the game is the menu system. Navigating menus I noticed several options led to the same destinations; challenges/feats. The menus give off the vibe that challenges/feats must be completed in multiple play throughs, but in fact many can be completed in one attempt. Challenges award players with experience points applied towards mastery level. It is important understand that each level has its own mastery level system. At particular level benchmarks various bonuses are unlocked for the stage such as: a new spawn point, a new weapon, or stashes of equipment hidden in various rooms.
All level customization can be “planned” prior to starting the mission.
Newly unlocked customizations assist a ton in completing events known as “Opportunities”. Opportunities arise mostly from exploring through levels collecting data or easy dropping on conversations, and act as a creative conduits shining light on alternative paths of execution. One opportunity would land my character on the catwalk posing as a famous model:
Another opportunity disguised me as a potential black market buyer named Sheikh al-Ghazzali. In an auction on the third floor, I bid and won insider information, and in doing so arranged for just the right amount of intimacy needed with my target to take her out.
Square Enix used to be pioneers in video game visuals and graphics, and from what I’ve seen of the latest Final Fantasy 15 gameplay, they are back at it again with the great graphics! It makes me wonder why Hitman looks so bad at times. There were many occasions, while waiting for my prey, that I noticed a big differences in graphic quality between items. This stood out the most with various plants (see picture below).
Various objects appeared full of giant ugly pixels, while others mere feet away appeared pixel flawless. Shines off Agent 47’s bald spot look great, but texture and weather effects have room for improvement (at first I mistook the rain effect during the second training mission as glitches). On the flip-side, cutscenes not made with in-game footage are gorgeous and stylishly scripted.
I could tell a lot of time was spent diversifying NPC’s appearance and attire. In the Paris level alone you can find: hair stylists, fashion models, business executives, random party goers, chefs, waiters, foreign royalty, body guards, security guards, and crewmen. On top of that, there are multiple types of outfits for them all. It is fun to walk around the Paris stage and let yourself become engrossed in rich environment with easily over 500 NPCs.
As a gamer, I’m tired of being trickle-fed content over months. It seems too often that I’m not getting my money’s worth. Hitman is by all means the very definition of trickle, but a trickle of concentrate. Hitman does an excellent job expanding Agent 47’s assassination arsenal to new heights and with an overabundance of challenges to master and feats to pull off, I didn’t mind repeating the missions. The game also includes an excessive amount of “Feature Contracts”: variable targets within a level, each with their own sets of constraints for execution.
A single Escalation mission is available with the Intro Pack too. Escalations missions test a players skills by forcing them to complete a 5 stage hit. After each stage is completed new objectives and restraints are introduced for the next. Tired of being told how to complete a mission? There is the option of creating your own contracts as well with “Contract Creation”. Starting up any map, players can select up to 5 targets (anyone can be selected as a target), and terminate them any way they like. Hitman will track when you killed each target, what you were wearing, and what you used to do so. Once all targets are dealt with and the player makes their exit, players can organize the requirements and upload their created contract for the world to try.
Hitman is being released episode by episode, and I will reviewing each episode as they come out over the next months. Doing so, my overall rating for the game may change in the long run. I get the sense that IO Interactive is beginning to master the art of free-form assassination by providing players with the tools needed to devise a truly unique Hitman experience; thus creating depth in the shallows. One thing is certain: Hitman 2016 is fun and full of replay value.
Thank you for reading. Nolan — Totaltoad
Hitman gets a 8/10 (Very Good)
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