Hopefully, the hits keep coming.
Games are changing. The industry has come a long way since I started playing in the 80s. Games are now released before they are finished. The world of Early Access and episodic games means that demos have all but become extinct. There are new ways to deliver experiences, and much like everything else, there are good and bad examples. Hitman is one of the first established franchises to join this trend – giving players a small taste of things to come, while promising a wealth of content over time.
Hitman is sort of a reboot at the same time. IO Interactive has found a way to combine all of the best elements of past games into one slick package, and it works. As someone who has always loved the open nature of the series, but struggled with its punishing difficulty and awkward controls, Hitman strikes a perfect balance for new and veteran players alike.
MSRP: $14.99 (intro pack) $59.99 (full experience)
Platforms: XB1, PS4, PC
Price I’d Pay: $14.99
The previous entry, Absolution, was divisive as it definitely catered to the casual crowd with forgiving difficulty, but the controls were more modern, making the more complex actions of Agent 47 easier to execute. This new game combines that stellar control scheme with the creativity and non-linear game play the series is known for. The end result is a perfect combination that players from either camp can enjoy.
Hitman is being offered up in what it is calling an Intro Pack. This is the base game with all the features, the tutorial, and one locale. The price tag for entry is $15, which is actually not bad considering how fully-featured it really is. The challenge system is here, which are essentially Achievements for being creative. They also give clues on the many ways players can opt to tackle situations. Veteran players can ignore them, while novice players can utilize them. Once again it makes the game more approachable to a wider audience.
While the two tutorial missions feel pretty straightforward, the Paris level is brimming with classic Hitman design. This level is massive, and there are numerous ways to tackle taking down the two targets. This is what makes Hitman so great as a series. While there is technically only one true level, the sheer amount of options make it almost infinitely replayable. There are also rewards after finishing it each time in different ways. New costumes, new gear, and new starting locations make each hit feel like a new playground waiting to be plucked for fun.
This level is also alive. Hitman is a gorgeous game, and seeing the crowds to blend in with is stunning. IO Interactive has a way to make the world of Agent 47 shine, and this latest game is no exception. There is even an option to lock the frame rate to a constant 30, or unlock it to go above and beyond. We’re seeing console games taking more and more steps to add options for performance, much like PC games.
Once I exhausted the main mission there is also Contracts mode, where players can create custom hits and share them with the world. With the intro pack though it is limited to just the Paris level, so again this is a feature that will likely be more appetizing once more maps start to drop.
Hitman doesn’t come without its faults though. For starters the loading time is unacceptable – upwards of a minute for any type of load. This makes the save-anywhere system hesitant, because I knew I was going to have to wait to get back into the action. Also saves are separated between online and off, which is ridiculous for a mostly single-player experience. What that means is if the servers are down, or Xbox Live/PSN is down, I cannot continue to game I was playing online.
As a standalone package, Hitman’s Intro Pack is more than worth the $15, and it is plenty to inform players if they are going to want more of it. The problem is that, again we are paying for a promise of content, as opposed to the actual content. I am sure IO Interactive will deliver the goods, but it is a weird time we live in.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.