Developer: IO Interactive
Publisher: Square Enix
Platform: PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 4
Tested on: Xbox One
Hitman: The Complete First Season – Review
The Hitman franchise has been a well-known name for simulating the life of a hired gun where you discreetly need to kill certain key figures by using anything you have at your disposal. It is already a long ongoing series that has strong stealth gameplay and the ability to disguise yourself as someone else, having various unique locations which allow for some sweet environmental kills. Returning fans will love what Square Enix did with the new Hitman title, it is one to murder for!
The game takes us 20 years back, in the beginning of Agent 47’s career with ICA where he meets Diana for the first time. She is your main mentor and boss in this game and gives you every mission briefing and details. After a recorded incident in Romania, 47 is retrieved by ICA to join their ranks to become a well-trained assassin. With his wits and inhuman-like skills he is an ideal asset for the ranks within the company. However the superiors are not sure about the stability and loyalty of our hitman. Diana vows for him, to give him a chance to prove himself. The story then goes to the attacks on IAGO for leaking various security details that caused many casualties and you are there to clean up the mess. After the initiation you are set upon the world to assassinate key subjects in various cases. The complete first season takes place within the prologue and the six episodes while there are various cut scenes to tie in the loose ends. These show events that either happens short before or after a mission and gives a broader horizon about the inns and outs of our storyline.
Value wise the game has a thing for informing you about the world of Agent 47 and slowly but surely gripping you in its claws with various plot twists that make you want to play more just to see how the story develops in later missions. A shroud of mystery conceals various characters but some hints are given during the story, although you will need to pay close attention to fill in the blanks and to collect the puzzle pieces.
Coming from a powerhouse that brought us the Hollywood movie quality games such as Final Fantasy XV and the movie Kingsglaive, they have set the bar high for themselves but they surely deliver. The games cut scenes are astonishingly beautiful and really utilize the power that next gen consoles have. In-game there is no decline in quality either as the various sceneries with unique and traditional settings gives us the feeling we are actually there. When playing, everything is well detailed and easy to find, with a clear H.U.D and predator mode. In predator mode you can see items, characters and your targets so you can precisely plan your next step. No frustration from blind spots or things you did miss.
Long story short: this game is a living, breathing world. The wide range of costumes and differentiating personas means that even though an outfit may have the same rank, it could have different accessories or clothes depending of function, aiding in the fact to add character to the person.
As we said that it is a living, breathing world, this is also noticed by the various sounds that are foreseen. It gives a feeling of reality by being in sync with the stage. People will react towards your outfit in their own unique ways by complimenting or scolding you, while the radio plays differently in each country and audio cues are well noticeable and will change accordingly for indoor and outdoor.
Since realism is a key factor of this game, the only music you will hear is a radio is nearby or venues where music is played: a stage will be really “ear deafening” loud like it would in real life, while a tourist location will give you the atmosphere of an actual vacation. Emotion is easily heard within the voices of the mass you encounter. A person stuttering in fear or a guard expressing authority are easy to pick apart and makes the whole feel more organic.
Hitman is a stealth-based action game that allows the player to complete missions in various conditions. This means that stealth is not mandatory but will make your life way less stressful. Hitman works like this: you are hired to get rid of members from IAGO and how cleaner you do this, the better for your score. Eliminating the target can be done by either utilizing weaponry stealthy or loudly, implementing the scenery to create brutal but graceful kills or by tampering with items to make it look like an accident. Depending on the difficulty, the set objectives can differentiate from very open (no weapon or disguise limitation) to certain objectives that need to be met to successfully complete the assignment. You are rated on your performances by points, these points will give bonus to your area mastery and this will unlock new items, costumes, weapons and spawn points. It is surely interesting to first complete the mission by any force and revisit later on to get better scores for the unlocks. The many starting scenarios allow for a wide array of situations and adds into the replay value, promising us many hours of gameplay.
Looking into the content that Hitman: The Complete First Season brings us can be divided into the prologue and six chapters. Each chapter is a unique location in the world and contains a story mission, a side mission and assassination targets and allows for tracking down an elusive target. All of these features will be briefly explained. Story mode plays through the whole first season where 47 takes on the corrupt leaders of IAGO. Side missions are played in the same level but offer different enemies to take out while still giving you the chance to encounter the key members you killed in the other mode (different reality). ‘Assassination targets’ is a challenging mode with five difficulty settings where you will need to take out a certain person(s), with each unique requirements (does it need to be an accident, specific weapon, special disguise, etc..) and the elusive target is a time bound assassination target that takes some in-game days to show up and when they do you have only some allotted time to initiate the mission but you better plan out carefully since you only get one chance to bring home the kill. Also a little bit more hidden within the menus is the ability to do featured contract: create and play from a wide array of assassination opportunities with even more challenging merits than those in the other modes.
To start this all, you will need to be fully prepared. For instance, smuggle in an item to collect later in the mission through the ICA drop (ideal for larger weapons), have a concealed pistol ready and up to two items ranging from lockpicks, coins, poison and explosives, picking a good starting point and a costume. Getting towards your mark can be a long and time-consuming road. Most of the time they are well guarded but luckily 47 is a keen listener and easily picks up conversations from people. These unlock opportunities to get really close to the objective while in full cover that doesn’t raise all too much suspicion. Blending in with the crowd is done by taking someone out with the preferred outfit and stealing it, this will let you wear the clothes as a disguise but this is not a bulletproof plan, since some higher ranked people can see through it and will report you when you are too suspicious. To give you a good insight of the situation, Agent 47 possesses an instinct mode that allows the tracking of targets, civilians and spotters while items and intractable placements can be found for you to spice things up or create a distraction. Taking out hostiles can be done with either lethal or non-lethal force. Lethal force is penalized but ensures the victim won’t snitch your position.This can also be achieved by knocking them out and hiding the body. Ending your mission as tidy as possible will raise your venue mastery, this is set per location and unlocks new spawn points, items and ensembles. To add more fun to your murder a whole array of challenges are present that invites to retry the mission once again for even more diverse endings.
Naturally a game with a boatload of interactions needs a smooth running control scheme that is not too hard to understand. Square Enix ensured that even grandpa can enjoy blowing off some steam with crystal clear instructions and simply placed buttons. This means that it rarely happens that you do the wrong action due to complicated controls. Your character responds well towards inputs and interactions go smoothly so you can quickly hide that body and sneak away in the nick of time. Pick up the controller and play, it doesn’t matter if you are a Hitman veteran or a new kid on the block, you will become a master hitman in minutes.
Hitman: The Complete First Season is a game that will be praised by fans and newcomers of the genre. Bringing a perfect blend of stealth and action into a game that is a feast for the eyes with amazing graphics and tight smooth gameplay that ensures a minimal of frustration while sneaking around when lurking around the map stalking your pray. With the many different modes offering various options to play, the game increases the replay value but if we really have to nitpick the scenery could become dull after a while, timely switching from countries could easily counter this.