Hitman – Intro Pack Review

Agent 47 is back again which makes me gleefully happy. I have been a fan of the bald headed assassin for as long as I can remember. Creepy as it sounds, I thoroughly enjoy stalking my target to watch his every movement, learn his patterns, seeking the opportune time to murder him in elaborate ways. I enjoy even more to rinse and repeat, killing the target in numerous ways, trying to etch out that perfect “accidental death” murder, being an untraceable undetected ghost. I have loved all of the previous releases, some more than others, so can IO Software deliver the perfect silent assassin experience with Hitman.

With this instalment being simply titled Hitman it had me wondering, is this game a reboot in the same vein as Tomb Raider and DMC Devil May Cry? The answer isn’t so straight forward. Those titles both reinvented the character and their story somewhat by going back in time and redesigning their stories. Hitman sees you at the beginning of Agent 47’s illustrious, murderess career, with him being inducted into the world of killer for hire. It begins with you coming face to face with your new handler, Diana. From there you are put through a few training levels for veterans to get a grasp of the new implements and new comers to get a feel of the controls.

The first training mission has you taking out a target at a party on board a docked yacht. This is completed by following direct instruction and completing the hit with a silenced pistol. It is easy and quite sterile but serves its purpose as a tutorial. After completion you are faced with the same target in the same scenario, this time however the leash is taken off in a free training mission, the choice is entirely up to you. From here you progress to your final test, the last of the training missions, in which you are to kill a soviet spy within a heavily guarded compound.

These missions are a great introduction to the game and the newly added Opportunities system. Opportunities arise throughout the mission by overhearing discussions among the people inhabiting the world. For instance if you hear some chatter about the target meeting someone for a drink an opportunity arises to add a little extra spice to said drink, rat poison perhaps? On default settings these opportunities take little effort to peruse, the discussions are highlighted over characters heads with little icons, and once the opportunity is found the route to the kill is highlighted via way points. Right now you’re probably thinking what I initially did, where is the challenge? I used this system on the first free training mission, this lead the kill to take around six minutes to achieve.  However after this I changed my settings, removing the hints. The opportunities are still there, however you need to find them yourself. Instantly I went from thinking, IO Software to what have you done, to IO Software, you glorious bastards! Observing the surroundings, listening to what people were saying, taking notice of any items and exploring the environment, adding this all together to calculate the perfect hit, without being noticed and having an easy escape route, THIS IS HITMAN!

I found myself shifting through the crowd at the Paris fashion show (your first open mission setting) for hours, watching the rich trifle about in the ball room. In another part of the venue the fashion show cat walk was set up, models were parading all sorts of wear to an applauding crowd. Over these hours I learnt many things, this place was huge, and there was an enormous amount of attendees, and listening carefully to some I declared opportunity. Working out where and how from these initial discussions without a way marker is an arduous task, one I relished. By the time I had finally laid my targets to rest four hours of evaluating had been taken upon, and due to the environment, none of it was boring.

After the hits have been completed there is ample opportunity to play each mission through and change your strategies, seeking more elaborate ways to take out targets. Each mission also contains a variety of challenges to achieve. These maybe as simple as acquiring a certain disguise or using a particular way to kill your victim, or as difficult as completing the mission unnoticed in your original suit. It is quite fun trying to achieve as many as possible in one event. Adding further to the value of the initial package is the tried and tested Contracts mode were players can set particular hits for others to complete along with a few new additions. Escalation mode has you perform hits in various ways with each level harder than the previous and Elusive Targets mode has the developers introduce a target that you have one shot at within a particular time frame. These characters appear during this time only once, if you fail you will never see them again, likewise your first kill is your only kill.

As I am playing this on the PS4 there is also (yes Xbox players will rage) exclusive content in The Sarajevo 6. Here you target six key players from the CICADA Corporation who participated in war crimes during the siege of Sarajevo. These will be time released also, as with the rest of the missions which will include six different missions within six differing locations. IO’s choice to make Hitman an ongoing saga with monthly mission drops seems strange but the chance to purchase the introduction pack and play what is available represents awesome value. I have spent over eight hours so far on Hitman’s intro offering and still have not touched Contracts mode. Interestingly after playing the beta I was greeted with an email from IO for feedback on the game. After playing the missions I was again greeted with a similar email, these hold many questions and detailed answers are wanted, so perhaps IO actually wants to improve the game as it is made via listening to the gamer’s experience. ABOUT TIME!!!

Production wise the game is pleasing. Sound is of good quality, the visuals are very good and the frame rate although unlocked seems smooth enough. I often found myself in the Paris mission simply taking in the glorious surroundings and everything that was happening. There are a huge amount of characters on screen at once, and the world seems to be quite alive.

Overall I am convinced by this first offering that the entire package is well worth your purchase. If you are a Hitman fan or a fan of these types of games it is a must buy. I was quite happy with Absolution but this release blows it away and realistically I have only played a portion of what is coming. The addition of Elusive Targets, Escalation and Contracts gives already great value to the package, especially when I have played many full games that I have finished with within eight hours. If skeptical I’d advise trying the intro pack, there are many worse things to spend $22 on!

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