Hitman continues to impress me, now that the irksome technical issues have been addressed and the game isn’t quitting on me every three minutes. After the abomination that was Absolution, the squad over at IO crafted the true sequel to Blood Money, and it’s fabulously deep and gorgeous to boot. Of course, some (including myself, to an extent) take issue with the episodic release schedule, but at the end of the day each episode features more than enough depth and re-play value to keep players busy for at least a month before the next mission drops.
The latest episode in the Hitman series takes place in a luxury hotel in Bangkok, Thailand. Agent 47 is tasked with eliminating a potentially murderous millennial rockstar and his corrupt yet surprisingly honest lawyer. I’ll say right now that I have an odd fondness for hotel levels. “A House of Cards” was one of my favourite missions in Blood Money, and there’s something about the anonymity offered by a busy building filled with people from all over the world. It just feels safe to wander around, as people aren’t looking for something out of the ordinary, as opposed to a private French mansion party or a bioweapons lab.
This level is certainly more compact than previous entries, tutorial base notwithstanding, but there’s still plenty to do. Hitman’s sheer volume of options continues to amaze me when it comes to eliminating targets. Standard “poison the food” or “shoot them in the head with a sniper rifle” methods are still there, of course. But the variety shines through with the more interesting and hilarious approaches, such as timing a shot to knock a coconut down onto the head of your victim. That’s not even getting into things like poison gas or dangerously wired microphones. The list feels nearly endless. Combine this with the Escalation contracts and the upcoming timed Elusive Targets dropping on the 26th, and players have yet another location to sink endless hours into perfecting.
Personally, I find the game a lot more rewarding with most of the settings (like Opportunities and the ability to see targets through walls) turned off, and try to use my own wits and creativity to craft elaborate and hilarious hits. However, every now and then I check out the challenge menu and chuckle as I realize there are still 15 more ways to get the job done than I could have come up with on my own—coconut related head trauma included.
In keeping with the other missions, the hotel in Bangkok is just gorgeous. I can’t see why anyone would complain about the visuals in Hitman, despite some character animations being a little janky and awkward. The lobby is lush and filled with plants and flowers basking in the sunlight pouring in from the windows. The amount of NPCs wandering around, minding their own business, still blows me away with how many character models are on screen at once. Ambient audio and conversation between NPCs will eventually repeat themselves, but given the sheer amount of inter-character dialogue that you don’t actually have to pay attention to but really should it doesn’t ever get super annoying.
Those of you who have already purchased the full Hitman package receive another stunning, complex and wickedly creative sandbox to play around in with this latest episode. The episodic nature could have been irritating and awful, but with this much depth in each mission I barely notice the monthly release schedule. I’ve played a ton of this game, yet still feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface on the levels that have already been released.