Platform: Steam, Windows, Linux, Mac, PS4, Xbox One
Reviewed on: PS4
Genre: Stealth, Action
Players: Single player
Written by Whistler 19th March 2016
While we knew what to expect (or at least hope for) with a new addition for Hitman, nobody really knew how to handle the news when Square announced the title was going episodic. Episodic content is nothing new at this point with a vast majority of Telltale Games’ catalogue and even Capcom’s Resident Evil: Revelations 2 proving the format can work more than effectively. Going episodic requires a balance of content plus replayability versus price and delay that leaves little room for error, so does the self-
Released as an intro pack our story begins over twenty years prior the events of Hitman: Absolution, after escaping the asylum in Romania Agent 47 is recruited by ICA after proving his capabilities in a series of training exercises in a remote facility. Episode one of seven, ‘Showstopper’ kicks off as he’s sent off to enjoy the sights on display at a swanky Sanguine fashion show held at the Palais De Walewska. Well, that and to eliminate the two ringleaders of the spy organization IAGO: Russian businessman Viktor Novikov and former supermodel Dalia Margolis. Viktor hosts the fashion show and high profile party on the first floor whereas Dalia Margolis is holding a secretive meeting elsewhere. IAGO clients from all over the globe have arrived to partake in the auctioning of highly confidential government information which includes a NOC list of British undercover agents.
Thankfully the traditional formula is still present, as with every entry in the series, levels a typically centered around assassinating one or more targets in an almost puzzle-
This time though IO Interactive have definitely kept their promise with Episode One’s locale serving as a fantastic mini-
Episode One sets the bar high for the monthly episodes to come as this locale alone is firmly built around replayability. While the mission only takes me twenty minutes or so tops now; after an initial hour or so’s worth of trial and error I’ve now accumulated upwards of seven hours still discovering new methods and perfect my routes.
Both as a means to drop hints for assassination methods and as a goal for the achievement hunters, Hitman utilizes a challenge and mastery system. Featuring a long list of challenges that task the player with accomplishing certain kills or steps towards completing the mission. In completing these challenges and improving on your overall mission score will net you experience points towards level mastery which in turn unlocks new starting locations, tools and concealment locations. Replaying levels to clear new challenges and improve your assassination skills rewards the player helping keeping the experience fresh and enjoyable.
A welcome addition to Hitman’s heavily specialized mechanisms is the oppurtunities system. This simple addition gives insight into discovering paths towards assassinating or opening up opportunities to do so for new players while not removing the challenge veterans have come to expect. Various oppurtunity events are dotted throughout the map where agent 47 can eavesdrop on conversations that reveal weaknesses in security or key information on your target. Once you come across one you can opt to follow the potential lead which provides waypoints towards completing subtasks that aid towards the end goal. It’s a fantastic method that helps newcomers see past the initial dense and impenetrable noise that goes on in each level without hand holding the experience.
There are some elements that do leave something to be desired however, while small I wasn’t expecting to come across some overly regular glitches like falling through floors and the menu interface feels clunky and unresponsive despite such a simplistic layout. However the biggest offender is the loading times, whilst arguably it’s understandable given the smooth experience in such large levels but loading between levels is abysmally long.
That being said this is absolutely miniscule in comparison to the positive impressions Hitman’s first episode has left me with. While this episodic structure will likely take some getting use to for some I’ve already accumulated enough hours to be left satisfied with a tutorial and a single mission. Paris is a multifaceted puzzle box of visual spectacles and James Bond style stealth gameplay filled to the brim with flavour and personality. Whether it’s the environments, animations or the models themselves visuals are incredibly pleasing that also make what could mistaken as boring gameplay sections where you need to observe your surrounding or target.
Episode One -
Plenty of replay value,
Refined and elegant stealth gameplay,
Good sized sandbox,
Auto and manual saves save some possible frustrations.
Atrocious loading times,
Disconnection from online can boot you mid game,
The wait for the next episode may kill you.
Score will be withheld until the full release.