Special thanks to Square Enix for the review code(s) for Hitman.
The long wait is over for those who played through Hitman’s brief introduction back in March. The first bit of Hitman, the epilogue portion, played like a delicious dessert. The waiter brings it out to you, and what you see is the most decadent, delicious looking chocolate cake. You take a big bite out of it, and your overwhelmed with so much textures, quality and appeal. Then, the waiter comes back, removes the cake from your table and you’re told, “I’ll bring this back out in like a month or so.”
Welcome to Hitman.
Episode two drops you in the coastal Italian town Sapienza. As Agent 47 you are here for three objectives, two of which are assassinations. The plot of this mission involves you attacking a bio chemical scientist who has went off the rails, and developed a weaponized toxin that can kill anything from anywhere. Your contract is to kill him, his ‘helper’ and destroy the toxin. The basic layout for the mission is pretty well developed, and surprisingly engaging.
Then the map loads up, and wham. Sapienza is…Wow. If this was a separate game, or another open world 3rd person adventure game, this map would be considered plenty. This is a contract, a mission, something that is meant to be played once and is ridiculously large. The scope of the town is incredible, with alley ways that perch off into different streets, dozens of various shops to enter, and dozens upon dozens of different disguises. One could easily lose half an hour to an hour easily on just goofing with the town’s enormity.
Of course the size and scope is only as impressive as the visual representation. The light blooms, and then harshly fades over corners, with shadows being cast all around. Visually, Sapienza is a stunning town that drips on the eyes of realism. Sure, the framerate will stutter, occasionally doing a two step when the game has to process too many NPC’s with just too many building textures. The eye will catch it, and while its noticeable, it doesn’t deter from what is going on. This feels like a beautiful, living painting.
Playing the part of Agent 47 includes listening on conversations. Some of which are NPCs talking, developing an atmospheric effect that is completely comedic euphoria. Often times you’ll stop by and say, “What did he just say?” The other part of the time, listening is absolutely key, essential to planning and plotting. Agent 47 is a skilled killer, but he needs to diabolically plot. Thankfully, the sounds of the world are mapped out so well. People talk. Birds chip. It sounds incredible.
For the mission itself? It works well, and happens to be another fun, entertaining and deep mission. One could easily beat this mission in 15 minutes, but exploring adds another element to everything. Add in all the contexts of mission challenges, trying to complete the ‘silent assassin’ and you’re looking at maybe 2-3 hours of additional gameplay.
This is where the problem lies in with Square Enix’s friend, episodic gaming. When the mission is complete. You wait. You don’t wait a few minutes for another mission to download. No, you don’t even wait a week for the next ‘episode’. You wait at least a month (in this case it was about six weeks). It completely curtails the enjoyment, or at least continuous enjoyment you get from a video game. This isn’t a film, or a series of films, that at least have some sort of closure after each film. The episode ends, and you’re left craving more. Unfortunately, the reason for this isn’t anything more than monetary decisions. Another blow that feels crippling. It would be like that decadent cake costing you 20 dollars, and then each bite after costing you 10. Eventually your love for that cake runs out.