HITMAN: The Complete First Season features all of the episodic locations that Agent 47 visits, from the Prologue, Paris, Sapienza, Marrakesh, Bangkok, Colorado, and Hokkaido. Does this new episodic approach to Hitman do the franchise any justice, or is it a lethal takedown? Read our review below to find out..
Hitman is a long standing franchise that has been on 3 console generations so far and has one of the most iconic characters in gaming associated with it in Agent 47, who hasn’t been seen in a video game since Hitman: Absolution back in 2011 and developer IO Interactive have brought a fresh approach with this new entry in to the series. ‘Hitman: The Complete First Season’ acts as a re-boot mixed in with a sequel kind of vibe by re-introducing us to Agent 47, giving us an alternative glimpse in to his past, with a very familiar but fresh feel to it.
This new entry in to the Hitman series is an episodic game, taking place in 6 different locations, with each being the setting for a different episode, which includes Paris, Sapienza, Marrakesh, Bangkok, Colorado and finally ending in Hokkaido. There are bonus missions included too, with the Prologue/Training missions at the ICA Training facility and also the Summer Bonus Missions that gave alternative contracts within one of the included locations but with a different setting. Each episode brings with it new contracts each time, with various methods, challenges and masteries to complete within each one giving the player the freedom to carry out the contracts in many different ways. The higher the mastery, the more you unlocked things like different weapons, outfits and starting points where you could begin a contract disguised as a chef in the kitchen or a waiter working in the bar or dining area, increasing the options available to carry out the contract depending on how inventive you were feeling.
At the end of each of these episodes, once the main contract is completed, there is a cutscene that links the story together all the way to the end of the last episode and ultimately ending ‘Season 1’ but it doesn’t really end there as there is still a lot left for you to do with a lot of content to play beyond completing the main tasks within each location. The story itself isn’t revolutionary and the game could easily survive without it being there and doesn’t add much to the overall experience, but a nice touch none the less and certainly sets it up for the already confirmed Season 2.
Developer IO Interactive made a very big statement in promising regular live events and content updates within these locations giving alternative contracts, community created contracts, escalation hits, fresh challenges and the very interesting ‘Elusive Target’ mode which gave you a target to eliminate or an artefact to intercept within a set time frame and only giving you one chance to complete it. These features had a rocky start with the Elusive Target mode being delayed initially but once it had started it really gained momentum and added to the already impressive content within each location/episode and IO Interactive have kept good on their promise with their commitment to continuously providing regular new, fresh content as there is always something new to be done once the main contract had been completed.
If you have played previous Hitman games then this one will have a very familiar feel to it, and overall the game plays well and will no doubt please veteran players as well as cater for new players to the series, but there are a few minor gameplay hiccups along the way. All the basic Hitman moves of old are present with various different approaches you can use to carry out your objectives, with stealth and a whole lot of patience playing their part along with utilising one of many disguises you can take from a member of staff or even one of the guards and using their attire to disguise yourself. There are a few minor gameplay issues where pressing to cover up a wall or a building can sometimes fault causing you to be seen and alerting enemies to hunt you or when you are trying to vault over a wall and it doesn’t quite trigger as you wanted but this happened to me on only a few occasions when playing and while it can hinder you at times, it doesn’t happen often enough to put you off or make it frustrating.
The cover system overall works really well though and acts as a very useful tool when infiltrating a section full of militia or security agents and allows smooth movement around corners and over walls most of the time to give you complete control in your approach. The shooting is also pretty solid but I found myself hardly ever using any guns apart from the odd occasion when I would use my pistol in certain situations or if I was sniping from distance, which has to be said feels great as you pick your best vantage point and see the location in all its glory, watching on as the population go about their business with no clue that a cold blooded killer is watching from a far waiting patiently to eliminate his mark.
There are numerous ways in which you can eliminate your targets and the game allows you to use pretty much anything you want to carry out these tasks, from snapping their neck to putting them in to a wood chipper, there really is about a hundred different ways you can complete your hit and it doesn’t stop there as you also have all of your ‘accident’ opportunities too where you can use certain parts of the environment, causing them to malfunction resulting in the death of your target while the general public or henchmen are none the wiser and merely class it as an unfortunate event. How you complete these objectives determines what mastery you achieve overall and using as many different ways to take out your targets adds even more variety in your kills and this gives you more reasons to re-visit each of the contracts more than a few times. Everything about how this game plays, what you do and how you do it feels like classic Hitman and takes it back to the Blood Money style of play, which will no doubt please diehard fans of the series who may have been disappointed with Absolution, because for sheer gameplay and options available at your disposal, this is the best Hitman experience for quite a while.
Visually, Hitman is a very good looking game most of the time and the locations are richly detailed with a lot going on in certain areas, giving it a very crowded and busy feel that adds to the tension when going after your targets, knowing an element of caution may be needed. The lighting and textures all look great and with so much detail in the locations it’s hard not to just stop playing and take in the whole atmosphere because at times, it is a truly stunning looking game and the attention to detail even down to the finer details is fantastic. The visuals do have a couple of slight flaws as some NPC’s don’t have as much detail as other characters do and also when a location is first loaded, some of the textures take a while to kick in, giving a blurry affect to certain things, for example the barcode on 47’s head just looks like a black smudge, billboards and clothes can look pixelated but it doesn’t take long for the engine to fully kick in and fully render so it’s really only a minor complaint in what is otherwise a great looking game.
Animations are also very good with the only negatives being that there seems to be a slight stiffness in some NPC movements and there is also a skip in the animation when hiding an enemy, but I can see why this was done and it makes it less time consuming especially if you want to dispose of someone or hide them quickly before being seen. The voice acting is good and with great detail too because there are not only conversations going on between main characters but there is also a lot you pick up from random people throughout the locations and sometimes these overheard discussions can be used as leads to an alternative method of killing a target. The music in the game is subtle but at the same time quite impactful and can only be described as a perfect musical score for a spy thriller movie and when you have eliminated your main target unseen, unheard and without a trace you get a great piece of music upon your way to the exit that rises in volume in a cinematic way that compliments the mission end really well.