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Hitman review impressions: Freedom of choice

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

Do so, and you’re forced to explore. Forced to find the dominoes yourself, find the weird weapons hidden in the nooks and the lengthy chains of events that lead to Hitman’s most stunning kills. In Paris I managed to miss an entire major storyline my first time through because I’d already committed to taking out the target a specific way—not to mention the myriad ways I could’ve executed the deed at the end.

If you want an idea of Hitman’s depth (and don’t mind spoilers), dig into the menus. There’s a Challenges section that awards you points for completing certain in-game actions, and you can read through them for ideas. There are a lot, from “Dress up like a guard” to “Poison this person” to the usual master-level “Silent Assassin” challenge—and on average you can only nab two or three per run.

And that’s even before we get into the Contracts Mode. Here, you’re tasked with taking out a random civilian/guard/whatever in a specific manner, and the community can gin up its own seemingly-impossible contracts.

It’s a staggering amount of murder to fulfill, albeit on an extremely limited pool of maps for the time being. Again, these are gestures for the core Hitman fans—the ones that are still playing Blood Money a decade after its release. The ones that most need to be won over in a post- Absolution world.

Do I think the game will win back everyone? No. There are some people for whom no Hitman will ever be as good as Blood Money, and I understand. It was a product of a certain era of game development, and even at the time was weird and somewhat bold.

On the other hand, I think Hitman is about as close as we’ll get in 2016, and I’m enjoying it (so far) a lot more than Absolution.

There are still some things that irk me. Certain actions are only triggered when the player proceeds, which is an annoyance. I sat for two minutes outside the opening yacht thinking I could snipe the target from afar, only to realize (I think) that he doesn’t move until you first walk onto the ship. On the Paris level it’s much harder to tell what’s player-triggered and what’s pre-scripted though, because there are so many moving parts. I suspect we’ll have a better idea once thousands of players run the levels repeatedly and start to categorize the NPC behavior.

AI can also be hit-or-miss at times. The Absolution disguise system has been brought back, meaning you’re only discovered by people who’d have cause to be suspicious. Thus, if you’re wearing a Security uniform on the military base you’ll have to avoid other security officers but not soldiers or mechanics.

 

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