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Hitman review impressions: Freedom of choice

Hayden Dingman | March 11, 2016
Paris, je te tue

Anything for the job. That’s Agent 47’s philosophy. Need to tend bar until the target heads back to his office? Agent 47 makes a hell of a cocktail. Need to roll up your sleeves and perform emergency maintenance on a fighter jet? Agent 47 is good with a wrench. Need to strut down a catwalk during a Parisian fashion show? Agent 47’s been practicing his haughty swagger in the mirror.

A consummate professional, that man. A master assassin in platform heels.

The Day of the Jackal

Hitman’s first episode releases tomorrow, the start of an eventual year’s-worth of planned Agent 47 missions. Get ready to shave your head, don your suit, quickly change out of your suit into a less conspicuous disguise, and strangle a bunch of lowlifes. By the end of this content-dribble we’ll have six different cities to explore and presumably something like twelve story missions (six were planned for the original three-city game and I’m assuming the expansion-that’s-no-longer-an-expansion will pack a similar amount).

This first piece is pretty small though—especially if you played the recent beta. It consists of a short opening tutorial level set on a yacht and another slightly-longer tutorial level set on a military base (both of which were in the beta) and then a larger sandbox set in Paris.

That’s it! And if you’re only looking to play through each level one time, then this first episode won’t take you very long at all. There’s maybe two hours of game so far—and that includes replaying the opening yacht tutorial, since the game explicitly asks you to do so.

But that’s the key: Hitman is meant to be replayed, and it’s what makes this episodic release schedule work.

Like everyone’s-favorite Hitman: Blood Money, this 2016 edition of Hitman focuses on experimentation. The Paris level is one massive sandbox packed with different weapons, environmental hazards, escape routes, and disguises—the tools of Agent 47’s trade.

Now, is it Blood Money 2? No. There are compromises, because this is a game released in 2016, not 2006. Each level seems to have one really obvious ”Go Here And Do This And You’ll Win” method of assassination, like an olive branch to people who are either a) new to the series or b) just don’t want to think too hard. In Paris, for instance, the entire front of the building is festooned with a billboard of a fashion model who looks suspiciously like Agent 47. It’s immediately obvious this is the “correct” way to finish the level, insofar as it’s the most obvious.

But Hitman also caters to the perfectionist and to the Blood Money devotee. For one, you can turn off pretty much all of the help the game offers. Don’t want the game to point out important conversations? Tired of the game putting in quest markers to guide you through unique hits? It doesn’t just bury the option to disable in a menu. It literally pops up a box during the second tutorial level saying “YOU CAN TURN THESE HELPFUL POINTERS OFF.” Which I recommend.

 

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