Hitman First Season ReviewGuest_Jim_* -
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Back in April I reviewed the then newly-released Hitman, so why, a little over six months later am I back in it? Because this particular game has had a different kind of release than most other games I have reviewed as it has come out in episodes. The last episode of the first season (and there have recently been reports confirming a second season) has finally released, so there is no better time to spend some time with Agent 47 again. I do feel I should admit that I have not played Hitman in the time between the original review and this revisit. I have played each of the new missions, except the bonus mission, at least twice as well. I have not done the many associated Escalation missions, which is something I talked about in the original review. These are missions within an episode with different targets, and as you complete them, the restrictions on you increase, such as having to wear a specific costume or use a specific weapon.
In this past half-year, we have received five new episodes set in Sapienza, Marrakesh, Bangkok, Colorado, and Hokkaido, along with a bonus Summer episode also set in Sapienza, but under very different conditions. The main episodes each have their own map, targets, and present special challenges to the player. I do have some favorites among them, but I will get to that after covering each episode.
The rating of the game has not changed in these passed months, nor should it have moved away from Mature, according to the ESRB. It contains intense violence and blood, drug references, strong language, and suggestive themes, and as some of this may also be contained in the screenshots I have captured (I am effectively incapable of capturing video in Hitman for some reason) this review may not be appropriate for everyone.
With that covered, time to get to the episodes!
Episode 2 – Sapienza:
In Episode 2, Agent 47 travels to the Italian coastal town of Sapienza with the mission of eliminating a weapon that could make him obsolete, along with the two people who could recreate it. While I do not have a great depth of knowledge about previous games in the series, it is a little unusual to eliminate an unmoving object, as it does not seem one can be very creative with it. To be fair, my constant desire to apply stealth to solve my problems in video games is likely limiting what I view as possible. Also, just before I started writing this I ran the mission again and discovered a new method I was not aware of. I will have to replay it later to try it out, and a new method to kill at least one of the human targets.
As is the standard for Hitman, there are a wealth of options for eliminating the two human targets, leaving you to discover these methods and decide which best fits your play style. For one of these targets, the opportunities are quite interesting. He is a highly neurotic individual with a mental breakdown in his past, which you can use to make him pass out on his own. After that, you simply break his neck, hide the body, and move on. You can also poison his food, to immediately kill him, or send him running to a bath room, and place an explosive golf ball in his bucket. With the latter method, he tends to hook. There are many, many more options available to you that I have not yet attempted.
The other human target, a woman, offers fewer opportunities, or I have not found them all yet. (Most likely the latter.) One method I found is a simple electrocution that I initially had done by accident, and the other two methods I have done involved disguising myself for one kind of rendezvous or another.
One thing I particularly enjoy about the Sapienza mission is its map, as it is large and quite varied. There is the palatial villa the targets are in or under, but also the town around it to explore, with many useful items, points of interest, and opportunities available there. While it is likely possible to complete the mission just within the villa's confines, doing so removes so much of the episode's potential, but at least one thing will remain. Where the weapon is held is completely different from the rest of the map, which I realized after the first time I completed the map, and that made me very happy.
As the bonus mission also occurs on this map, it is probably worth mentioning it here, though it is only available to those who purchase the complete first season. The portion of the map it takes place on is considerably smaller than the entire map and it only has a single target. I am okay with this as I am sure it is not meant to be comparable to the main episodes. It is still amusing, as you are tasked with eliminating an actor/director who is going to bankrupt the production company with his obsessive perfectionism. It seems a bit extreme, but it does allow you to eliminate the target with a variety of 'accidental' kills. It can be completed relatively quickly, at least compared to the other episodes, so it is a nice, fun excursion as Agent 47.
Episode 3 – Marrakesh:
When Agent 47 visits Marrakesh it is to eliminate the plotting General Reza Zaydan and unscrupulous banker Claus Strandberg. The general is headquartered in a former school his forces have taken over while the banker is hiding within the Swedish Consulate. Like Sapienza, where you begin and end the mission can be vastly different, and I like that. This kind of complexity makes the gameplay more interesting, and can present some novel challenges by trying to find means of connecting the two targets. I know there is a way to do it, but thus far the only connection I have found has been a secret tunnel, which is still a rather useful discovery.
There are a number of ways to eliminate either target, but it is rather difficult with the general. He is almost constantly surrounded by armed military personal, and some of them can always spot you, no matter the disguise you are wearing. You have to be careful as you try to move around the school, but there is at least one approach that is quite helpful, but I will leave it at that for you to discover.
Within the consulate there are fewer people ready to kill you, but the challenge remains because you are limited from moving freely. There are a number of options available to you, including one that will allow you to drop a moose on the target. I rather enjoy that means of elimination
There are many disguises you can acquire and use in this map, and one in particular, the fortune teller, is important to find. The mastery challenges for the map all require using it, so knowing how to find it is important. I moved on to the other episodes before completing these challenges, but I do intend to return at some point, if only because it is funny to see Agent 47 in this costume.
The complexity of the map is definitely something this episode has in its favor, but I think the amount of NPCs is also something I enjoy. It makes it feel more alive, and increases the challenge by requiring you to find some way to avoid them all.
Episode 4 – Bangkok:
In this episode, you visit a luxurious hotel with a pair of targets to eliminate. One is a completely self-absorbed rockstar who likely murdered a woman and got away with it, in part, thanks to the other target, his powerful family's lawyer. With the many floors of the hotel, the map is certainly large, but it is still all one place, reducing its complexity. There are still many NPCs to deal with, especially as many will recognize that they do not know you, regardless of your disguise, and there are also many places off limits to you. It will take some creativity to get the disguises you need, and then you will need to remember where you left them to move around the map.
Besides the restrictions on movements and being recognized, one thing that made this map challenging for me was its design. I constantly had to pull out the map to figure out where I was and how to get from one place to another, likely needing to look at the map again before I got there.
In its favor is some of the fun stuff you can do, like disguising yourself as a drummer, requiring Agent 47 to play the drums for an opportunity to eliminate the rockstar. What I most enjoyed was the opportunity that let me kill both targets at the same time by dropping coconuts on their heads, because, you know, coconuts. I really have no better reason than that, but it was enough for me to want to figure it out.
I am sure if I play the map again I will find even more variety to what I can do, but as it is, it did not feel all that open to me. To be fair to the game, that could very much be on me more than the content.