November 05, 2016
Following the launch of Hitman's season finale episode in Hokkaido, Japan, Agent 47's latest outing has at last come to an end, leaving us with six incredible episodes to play over and over again. Each instalment has brought with it unique challenges, opportunities and other murderous methods to discover, but how does it all stack up as a complete first season?
Well, much as you'd expect, it's all bloody brilliant. So far, so obvious. Look back at Blood Money, arguably the last truly brilliant Hitman game, however, and you'll notice that it had more levels than Hitman's core six missions. It doesn't matter, though, because Hitman is all about delivering quality over quantity.
It's perhaps worth noting too, that beyond the six episodes there's the Prologue (with Freeform Training and The Final Test) and Summer Bonus Missions to take into account, as well as live Escalation Contracts, frequent Elusive Targets and online Contracts, all of which makes for masses of replayability beyond the core six episodes.
More importantly, however, Hitman's six different locations are not only markedly different from one another, but they're also incredibly dense and layered, stuffed to the gills with incidental details and smart, intelligently designed environments and opportunities.
As we've already noted again and again in our individual review impressions of each episode, every mission is fertile ground for experimentation, or you can just mess around, throwing screwdrivers and soda cans into people's faces, if you're so inclined. There are so many disguises, items and weapons to discover that you can invent your own objectives, and share them as a Contract online. And absolutely anyone can be a target.
All of Hitman's levels are also memorable for a variety of reasons, but by far the game's best mission is 'World of Tomorrow' in the fictional Italian coastal town of Sapienza. It has some of the best assassinations, whether it's an exploding golf ball, shooting a plane down with cannon fire, death by falling church bell, or dressing up as a plague doctor and executing your target while he's weeping to an old family video. Sapienza is a beautifully realised, sun-dappled idyll hiding a dark subterranean secret. It's the perfect Hitman level.
Paris's The Showstopper episode is equally exciting; its buzzing fashion show on the grounds of a palace providing a sandbox that you can return to numerous times. Just as opulent and decadent is the Club 27 contract in Bangkok, wherein 47 can disguise himself as the drummer for the rock band staying at the hotel to get close to one target and sabotage a tuk-tuk to kill the other. Of course, these opportunities we're mentioning are but a drop in the ocean as to what's possible.
Marrakesh, meanwhile, plays to Hitman's penchant for the exotic, its streets and alleyways feeling grounded and real, while the glass embassy building and bombed out school provide a stark contrast to one another. A Gilded Cage proves one of the more challenging missions, its crowds and tight security making for some rather tough hits that require patience to perfectly orchestrate and successfully execute.
Colorado's Freedom Fighters contract and Situs Inversus in Hokkaido round things out, the former set on an old apricot farm where four targets are hiding out, while the latter couldn't be more different, all pristine corridors and small rooms. Each mission is packed to the gills with cleverly, well-though out and put together opportunities, laced with IO's trademark dark humour. It's this kind of thing that makes Hitman so utterly unique.
As for the trophies, they're pretty unique too, also adding additional replay value, as they task you with offing your targets in a variety of different, often quirky and unusual ways. Mastery of every level will take time, effort and a great deal of patience, but you'll feel like a Hitman zen master once that trophy finally pings. The game's secret trophies are obscure, unusual and often pretty funny too, making for a list that's both varied and smart. It fits Hitman like a finely tailored suit.
As a complete package, Hitman is really something to behold. Undoubtedly one of the highest points for Agent 47's escapades since Blood Money, IO Interactive has really outdone itself in delivering a stellar first season for Hitman, with six fantastic episodes (plus The Summer Bonus), ongoing Elusive Targets, Contracts, Escalations and more options to inject more than adequate impetus to go back and replay each mission again and again. Hitman is beautifully crafted and might just be one of the best games of 2016, if not the best game, full stop.
A suitably subtle score that ramps up with stings whenever appropriate, and adapts to the action as it unfolds. The ambience and atmosphere is impeccable, with great voice acting to boot. Almost perfect.
As crisp as one of Agent 47's trademark suits and as smooth as his baldy bonce, Hitman looks wonderful. Draped in detail, the game's architecture looks superb and its locations are alive with people, culture, colour and activity.
Hitman represents IO Interactive well and truly mastering its sandboxes. Each mission is a nigh-on infinitely replayable experience in which you're constantly discovering new things the more you play. Meticulously crafted, it's almost perfect.
You might baulk at there being only six core episodes, but each is dense and layered, like a big, old onion. There's the Prologue, Summer Bonus episode and various extra modes to consider too. Hitman is constantly throwing up new challenges all the time, meaning you could potentially keep playing indefinitely. Or at least until season two.
An excellent list that demands you dive right into all of the many opportunities and clever stuff that IO has created for Hitman. The trophies point you towards some of the coolest elements, making it exactly as a trophy list should be.
Hitman is arguably a pinnacle for the series, possibly even eclipsing Blood Money as Agent 47's finest moment. Each episode is a sandbox that you don't simply play and then forget. You'll want to master it and discover all of its hidden secrets and nuances. And therein lies Hitman's innate brilliance. It's deep, expansive and open-ended enough that you'll never want to stop playing. Hitman is quite simply magnificent.