Four out of Five Stars
Summary : The game goes out on a high note but remains flawed.
(editor’s note: this article originally published November 2016)
For better or worse, we have come to the end of this season of Hitman. Agent 47 has, for now, eliminated his final series of targets and is in the wind… or maybe they eliminated him and are in the wind… or maybe they’re all dead after one final act of retribution went horribly awry (no spoilers here). I have not, to this point, been a terribly big fan of the season, and while it may have gone out on a high note (we’ll get there), it’s a little bit of a tough game to recommend.
For episode six, Hokkaido, 47 is at a mountaintop health resort/medical facility. For reasons explained in cutscenes, he is there to kill two different individuals but, as always, the reasons for the killing are not relevant to the player – the only important bit is the how. How to do it without getting caught. How to do it in a way that is, for lack of a better term, slick.
Without a doubt, the best aspects of Hokkaido are the various opportunities for those assassinations. Some are more intricate than others; order of the killings can be important; there is a lot of outfit changing, and therefore subduing, not required, exactly, so much as beneficial.
The resort location itself would be more interesting if we hadn’t just scene a similar one in the most recent James Bond movie, Spectre, and in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service before that and in goodness knows how many other places. It is neither new nor different nor terribly special, but then that’s kind of been par for the course for Hitman.
Even so, the locale is pretty and there are enough different areas to it to make the spa/hospital feel larger than it is. If this Hitman has excelled at one thing, it’s making the places 47 goes pretty.
What this game has never been very good at is convincing the player that it has much more to offer than minor variations on an averages sort of theme. Every level can be boiled down to walking around, getting the right outfit, and getting close enough to eliminate the target. The only variation is the location and methods of death available. Agent 47 even repeatedly uses the same tricks to attract attention from flooding sinks to turning on/off generators.
As indicated, though, this is one of the better episodes of the game; one of the better variations on the theme. One of the big differences from previous levels is that the opportunity for stealth appears to have gone up. Some of the other levels have gone with a “bigger crowd is better” philosophy however (thereby making stealth something more difficult to achieve), at a certain point, rather than improving the game, putting NPCs in a level is simply annoying.
If you are a huge fan of the franchise, it seems impossible that you would possibly skip this game, but it is not 47 at his best. He isn’t the stealthiest he can be, he isn’t at his most clever, the story is an utter bore, and avoiding civilian NPCs gets very old very fast. With luck, there will be a season two and our anti-hero will be back to form.
Hitman is rated M (Mature) by the ESRB for Blood, Drug Reference, Intense Violence, Strong Language, and Suggestive Themes. This game can also be found on: Xbox One and Windows PC.
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