It has been a month since the first episode of the all-new Hitman came out and that means it’s time for another episode! Well, I put the exclamation point there, but there’s not really a lot to be excited about here in episode two, “Sapienza.”
Before I continue, however, it may be worth going back to read the review of the first episode. This article builds on that one.
Being an episodic game is tricky. As I noted in that first review, there is nothing particular episodic about Hitman‘s episodes. Rather, they feel like basic levels. Episodes tend to have story arcs and plot development and character development, and this Hitman eschews all that stuff – those bits happen in the cutscenes between levels, not in the levels proper.
Perhaps because this new episode doesn’t arrive alongside a series of training levels, it feels even more isolated from the overarching tale. It is just a couple of executions and the ruining of a research lab. Not an episode; it’s a moment.
Following a briefing, the game drops Agent 47 into the fictional town of Sapienza with his assignment and a sizable play area, but one that is largely irrelevant. The actual assignment only forces you to visit a small part of it (even if you play without going about killing everyone in sight). From start to finish, one’s first time through the mission probably will take something on the order of 45 minutes and that 45 minutes will leave you feeling rather blah about the whole experience.
To function successfully, this episodic Hitman we’re being given has to convince players that going back and playing for 100% completion is worth it. We need to be convinced that going back and killing random other folks in the town later as a side-mission is worth it, that finding every nook and cranny and “secret” is worth it. A forty-five minute release that has most of one’s time spent getting the lay of the land doesn’t convince anyone to go back for the extras.
I had absolutely no desire to go back and do little things around the edges after I completed my main assignment in Sapienza. Then, actually going back and looking for more things to do or more ways to do the same thing I’d already done in no way convinced me I was wrong.
Beyond that, in my first review I noted issues with some of the details (things like 47 turning on a faucet without touching it, people hearing a “silent” kill from across the room), those problems remain in this second episode. It is possible to drag someone a good distance beyond a door—visually clearly beyond it—and still have their hand get caught in it when it closes.
I still maintain that Hitman could be a good game, what exists here in the episode is fun, but there just isn’t a whole lot here and it feels silly to have waited more than a month for it to come out. The episodic releases sees to not be doing the title any favors. The franchise is built around cool kills and a player getting better by learning to move with the game and the NPCs rather than against them. Flow. It is a game built around flow. That flow is being hampered by the stilted release, and one’s appreciation of the various kills are similarly diminished. Rather than having a “wow, that was awesome, I can’t wait to see how I can go after the next guy,” response, the one the game elicits is, “oh, huh, that was neat I guess, maybe I’ll come back in four weeks to see what’s next.”
The jury is still out on the full game, there are still several episodes due out this year, but unless you’re dying to play it right now, I lean towards waiting so you can binge-play them down the line.
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.