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Xbox One Game Review
There is a world beyond ours. Beyond nations, justice, ethics. It never sleeps. It exists everywhere. And once you enter... there is no going back. Welcome to the World of Assassination. You are Agent 47, the world's ultimate assassin...
Hitman (2016) is an episodic third-person action adventure game which will see a new location released monthly (with five planned in total). With the Intro Pack, you get the Prologue and Paris episode. You also get full access to Contracts Mode, Escalation Mode, elusive targets and other live content.
The Prologue is really two training missions that sees you having to eliminate two targets in two different locations. In the first you have to discreetly kill your target during a very public boat party. You have to get onboard the boat, move around unseen, assassinate the target and leave the boat, all without being spotted. And when you've completed it once you'll be sent back in to try it again, but come up with another solution. This gears you up for looking at every mission from as many different angles as you can think of. In fact part of the fun of this game is accidentally stumbling onto something that will help you later in your mission.
It sounds easy, right? Well, in some respects it is. However, it's wise to save your progress at fairly regular intervals, otherwise you'll have to start the level from the beginning if you are spotted. In addition, every time you have to restart the game you'll have to navigate to the load menu to load up the last save point (something that I thought would have been on the main menu).
A lot of it, in these early stages, is trial and error. And once you work out what works, most of the fun is in discovering new areas or weapons and trying them out. It was oddly satisfying, during the Paris mission, to run around the loft space of the mansion hitting every guard I saw with a hammer.
The second environment, which also acts as another training mission, sees you having to infiltrate a heavily guarded building and take out your target. Here you also learn about listening in on conversations as they can result in new kill opportunities, as well as mini challenges that can be completed. These also unlock new elements of the game like new costumes or weapons.
And finally we have the first proper full level: Paris. Here you have to go behind the scenes of a fashion show to take out a husband and wife team. There's quite a large building (and grounds) to roam around and loads of mini missions to complete.
Now if that wasn't enough we have the additional live content which sees you either constructing new missions for the online community, or tackling a challenge set by other gamers (Contracts Mode); or Escalation Mode in which you have a preset challenge that must be completed, after which you have to tackle it again but things become a little more tricky. This continues until you die or complete the mission for the fifth time. For these modes there is no load/save facility so you have to complete each mission without being killed.
In addition there's the Elusive Target mode. These are new targets which appear for a limited time only. You don't have long to find them and take them out.
There are also lots of interactive elements in the environment. You can break things to kill or distract enemies, if you have picked up the right items from elsewhere. For example, if you have a wrench, you can unscrew the outdoor patio heaters so that they leak gas; or if you find some rat poison you can poison drinks or food.
Another nice touch is the attention to detail. I accidentally killed an enemy and then hid so I wasn't spotted. When I returned to the scene of the crime moments later, I spotted another guard dragging away the corpse in a body bag.
How you tackle each mission is totally up to your individual playing style. During the Paris level I first followed the route of finding an invitation in order to gain access to the private parts of the house (something you can also do, avoiding the odd suspicious guard, by dressing as a member of staff). On a subsequent attempt I discovered I could climb up the building and bypass the guards.
On the negative side, and this is a huge issue for me, you really need to be connected to the internet to play. While you can play the main levels offline, your restricted by the default weapon/costume choices. The issue for me is if the servers go down (which they already have) the game is pretty much unplayable. This begs the question of how long will the servers be active for? Once they're turned off you've got a pretty basic game. Chances are, though as this is Square Enix, you know the servers will be around until way after you tire of the game. The load time for the game is also frustratingly slow.
Another problem is dull AI. During the Paris mission, one of the targets walks the same route over and over again. This makes her assignation fairly easy and it would have been a little more challenging if her movements had been a little less predictable. In another instance I knocked out a guard and alert another guard, but I quickly changed my outfit (in plain sight) and the guard simply said: "Where did he go?" and wandered off.
While the game mechanics can get a little too repetitive a little too quickly there are plenty of in game challenges to spice things up. I'm looking forward to seeing how this game unfolds. Things look promising.
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