So Hitman is a complicated proposition, especially in terms of review and explaining what the game is right now. It’s taking a rather unorthodox approach to release, and instead of bringing out a full game like previous entries in the franchise, it has episodic updates planned over the next few months. Each of these releases will bring a new level to the game for you to explore and kill all your targets with growing creativity. So, the question is, do we take what’s there now and merit that, or scold the game for what it’s not, and ignore what it could be in time?
Well, lets start off with what is definitely in the game at launch. The title is kicking off with a pretty lengthy tutorial, complete with two levels, and the main attraction, a big level set in Paris during a fashion show. The tutorial teaches you the ropes of the game, and has a pretty cool little gimmick to its levels. As this is meant to be training for Agent 47, each scene is set up to look like somewhere else, but in actuality it takes place in a big power plant exhaust tower. You’ll notice speakers blaring out seagull sounds on a boat, blue plastic sheets meant to be water and walls that are clearly just boards of wood. It’s a small touch, but it shows an attention to detail that sets the tone for the level of quality on show throughout.
While you can no doubt spend quite a bit of time in these tutorial areas, the real meat of this first release will be in the Paris level of the game. Being the only full blown level in the package, it’s probably a good thing that it’s really excellent. As Agent 47, you are tasked with trying to take out two fashion designers come international secret sellers. The level is huge. It takes place in a densely packed palace, where there is no area off limits to your wits. This is a space explored to its fullest, with a real air of authenticity. If you have ever been to a swanky event like this, the attention to detail is pretty phenomenal. Also, the architecture of the palace doesn’t for a second feel disingenuous. I would be mystified if IO Interactive didn’t get in an architect to design the palace and an event planner to bring the fashion catwalk together. It’s pretty astounding stuff in the level and environmental design.
And it’s not just there for show either. You are let loose on this location as you are given real choice about how you tackle your mission. The breadth of available options if pretty wild, and super fun to explore. There are all the Hitman staples, such as knocking out security guards to wear their clothes, to tons of weapon choice at completing your objective.
What Hitman really has going for it though is the wonderful little story options you can follow to get yourself into position for a kill. Will you take on the role of a sheik, pretend to buy secrets and then strike once you are in private concert? Take on the role of a famous model to have most everyone trust you, and even go for a strut on the cat walk? Lure one of your targets out by helping a blogger in need? The little emergent storytelling that goes on here is lovely and it meant I didn’t once run out of new options to complete the task at hand during my time with the game.
For all intents and purposes, this absolutely is Hitman. There is no reinvention of the wheel in a pursuit to blindly update the series, which is great. This is all the good stuff about Hitman just surrounded in more impressive tech, adding more and more possibility to the promise of the franchise. It’s a case of a developer who understand their source material and are making and excellent version of it. The Paris level is one of the most impressive I’ve played in the franchise and I fully recommend giving it a go if you can.
But, I do want to be clear: it really just this content for now, at least until we get more levels over the coming months. If they all match up to the quality of this release, this game is going to shape up to be something really impressive, but that is all a promise at this point. Unless you really want to chase challenges and unlock more options to tackle Paris, (I will admit I did have fun replaying the mission to find new ways to achieve my goal better) you’ll find the game to be severely lacking in content right now. There’s lots to find and do in the level, but lets not forget, it is the same level.
Hitman is a weird proposition right now. Judging it by just what is there at launch, it’s fantastic. The Paris level is deep and rich with detail, breathing an air of authenticity that is pretty unique. Walking through the halls of a bustling palace during such a big event is really very cool, and I was continually impressed with the attention shown by IO Interactive in their game. However, we also have to look at the game for what isn’t there. Selling for near full price (you can just buy the tutorial and Paris level for $15 mind), what it is releasing right now just isn’t enough to justify that unless you intend to replay these few levels over and over to beat times and climb leaderboards. Hitman has put a really confident foot forward with this though, and I now am fully expecting, that when this experience is complete, it will be a truly fantastic game. Right now though, it is only part of one.
Buy it if: You love Hitman, and appreciate phenomenal level and environmental design. Also, if you are fine waiting for more content over the next few months.
Avoid it if: You don’t want to buy a game that isn’t complete yet and have no interest in score attack like gameplay.
Score: N/A (Yet)
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