GAME REVIEW: Hitman 2016: Episode 1 (PC)


Background

The Hitman Franchise is perhaps one of the oldest stealth games in the genre, not as old or well known in comparison to its rivals Metal Gear franchise or Thief. The Hitman series however hits a certain sweet spot in the market. As in previous Hitman games, you need to plan and act in an effective timely manner. When a plan is successful and no one notices you feel like a true Hitman. A hitman above hitmen. As such I look forward to this new entry into the series, focusing less on the story side of the franchise (which had arguably been one of its weaker elements) but instead fusing the sandbox style gameplay of Hitman: Blood Money but with the Hitman: Absolution game Mechanics; Hitman sense, cover mechanics and general a modern overhaul of the general feeling of controlling Agent 47. As such, although I am happy with the game that has been given to us so far I am somewhat concerned that some of the minor features have been overlooked, such as releasing the game in an episodic nature instead of a full game.

Story

Hitman 2016 so far has a limited story, as it mostly follows Agent 47’s exploits post events of Absolution. However, we get to see him in his early days which function as a tutorial to the game and a way to understand how this games plays differently to others. As such, so far we don’t have anything in terms of the grand scheme but the games feel less focused on story and more so on mechanics, which serve the game better. Instead of trying to have a ‘Taken’ feel or an excuse to explain why Agent 47 is going from Russia to Japan. The game simply says, Agent 47’s target and that they are in this location and off he goes. This how the game implies with Agent 47 being at the peak of his career.

Mechanics

The most notable mechanic to be added is the games way of making guards more lethal having a more realistic approach to disguises. As in Hitman: Absolution, any person in the same disguise as you could recognise that you were in disguise. This has been balanced so only certain people within the disguise can notice you; this would mean it is far easier to remain disguise then in past version in the game. Guards will now pick up and remove any weapons you leave lying around. This could prove to be useful if you want to smuggle certain items in or if you want a guard bringing a bomb to your target allowing you to kill them and make a mess just long enough you can sneak out.

The last major change that I would like to mention is that of contacts mode. Contacts mode allows people to pick and choose targets. Sometimes they request the targets are killed with certain disguise or weapons. Perhaps some of the funniest have been killing characters who you heard talking in the main mission only for you to put a bomb down, have them pick it up and watch it explode… However, the main flaw I have with game is that contracts feel more like side-missions for fans by fans but with no real purpose other than to polish your skill. Perhaps including a skill tree, or allowing for a money system would give people incentive to take contracts as right now there’s really only three missions, two of which are just tutorials. As such there is a limited replayability, perhaps borrowing from one of the newest games being made Yandere Simulator, the idea of including a system that makes a certain element of the game less of task to handle easier. Perhaps adding an incentive that you will be given x amount of points which you could use to make disguise better, hiding weapons easier or allowing for more starting equipment? Having such an option will have provided fans of the series more reason to revist the maps and learn more on how the character and the game world reacts and interacts with each other.

Sound Design

The sound design in done in way that makes the game more realistic than before, as overhearing conversation feels natural and that it can often lead to different ways to approach and take out your target. However, the music feels somewhat limited. Hitman games often have amazing soundtracks whereas in this game the soundtrack does a good job of portraying feeling and emotion but not in way that is unique to the Hitman Franchise. As often, you’re seen as reaper like figure, one that often kills those who are corrupt or at least by society’s standards “bad” so you would often hear Ava Maria. As such I am rather surprised I have yet to hear one of the most iconic soundtracks to the franchise but perhaps this is something to be added in a different point in the games release schedule.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the game at launch is good and seems to be one that will be polished and improved as each new entry is added. As such I look forward to perhaps reviewing the game in full when all content is released or at least within a years time when the game first year of content will likely be completed. I nevertheless, grow concerned that perhaps the games need more polish despite how large the sandbox is often the crowds don’t respond in the way you think they would.

Score

Because of the mode of release, the review is seen as still in progress and as such it seems improper to give it a full score until more content is added

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