The unseen, or unnoticed, aspect of the Hitman games has always appealed to me. Well, not just Hitman. Splinter Cell, Thief, Dishonoured. If there is a game with an option to be stealthy, I’ll take it. If there is a chance to be completely unseen I’ll do it. If it can be done without spilling a drop of blood I’ll spend hours, reload after reload, working my way painfully through every level to do it. To me it’s the ultimate puzzle game.
The latest Hitman game, at three episodes in, is scratching that itch and then some. In particular I’ve always loved hiding in plain sight. In Hitman: Paris I walked a fashion runway, gave an interview and posed for photos before terminating my target. It was a masterfully executed…err…execution. No one had a clue what happened, or indeed that something had happened. Although they may have become suspicious when I stole the helicopter and flew off….
I’ve especially enjoyed my time as Agent 47 this time around thanks to the incredible variety. So much so that it took me well over a week to move on to the second mission because I wanted to find every possible way of completing the task at hand in Paris.
I don’t always kill foreign generals, but when I do, it’s with a toilet falling from the 2nd story….
This depth has really grabbed me with this version of Hitman. There is clearly two ways to play Hitman. You can complete the mission and move on, following the ‘opportunities’ (hints, really), making the kill and finishing the game. That’s a perfectly acceptable way of playing the game and I think it would be an enjoyable experience. You’d be missing out on a hell of a lot of content though.
The second way, the way I prefer, is to explore and to do everything on every level. I was stunned at the size of the levels, there is just so much to do and find – and so much you will only come across if you head out exploring. But exploration for explorations sake is not something I’ve ever particularly enjoyed. No, I’m searching for something specific – for new and creative ways to kill.
Even in the tutorial you’re encouraged to not just eliminate your mark in different ways, but also in creative ways. Sure, you can snap a neck or put a bullet in a brain, but a horrific ejector seat accident during a safety inspection is where it’s really at.
Hitman will guide you to some of these devious kills if you want, or you can find them yourself. I highly recommend the second. There is an immense satisfaction in finding and terminating your target in a unique, if not outright zany, way. This will often take multiple playthroughs, meticulous planning and perfect timing but it’s worth it. It is glorious beyond words to see your G. R. R. Martin like planning come together for a moment of gore and masochistic satisfaction.
The other aspect of Hitman I’m in love with is the Elusive Targets. Available for a very limited time (a couple of days only) these targets are the most challenging and interesting I’ve seen in Hitman. There are no in game prompts to tell you where they are, so you need to explore the zone to find them, if you fail for any reason the target escapes and you never, ever, get the chance at that target again. No reload, no try again, they’re gone. And I love it.
All of this combines to create a Hitman game that hits (ha!) all the right notes for me, including the episodic content. I’ve always been a fan of episodic content and it suits Hitman so well, particularly when there is so much to do at each location and how incredibly varied they are.
Hitman is my kind of game and early impressions (three episodes in) are that it will be an excellent full game. That being said, I’d recommend getting in now and enjoying the ongoing content as it’s released.