Hitman returns and, this time, he returns in an episodic Hitman intro pack. The intro pack includes the base game, the prologue, and the first episode. Some people have been a little skeptical about how this game is being released, and with good reason. It seems that a trend these days is to release games for $60 with little content while adding the remaining content for free later on. This is fine as long as the content that is released at launch is sufficient. The good news is that Hitman offers plenty of content now, and the gameplay is perfectly fine. The problem lies within technical aspects of the the game.
The story of this new Hitman focuses on Agent 47 when he first joins the agency, following some of his missions right up to the first episodic mission. Right now, Hitman offers three different missions. The first two being the same ones that were offered in the beta, including the boat and the military base. For those who didn't play the beta, both of these missions offer plenty of variety and ways to kill your targets. When I first previewed the game, one of the things I mentioned was how bad the frame rate was and how it would tank to slideshow levels. I am happy to report that I experienced almost no slowdown or frame rate drops at all, even in crowded areas. The main mission, however, is Episode 1, which takes place in Paris and has you eliminating two targets: Viktor Novikov and Dalia Margolis. They seem like nice people. Viktor is the head of a major fashion company and Dalia is a former supermodel who was running a charity auction at the event. Oh yeah, and they also work for an underground organization that specializes in selling secrets. They happen to have a list of undercover secret operatives around the world and will purchase it at a high price. They need to be taken out.
I will say that this was a perfect mission to kick off the season. It showcases a lot of what the game has to offer. There are hundreds of non-player characters in the area, lots of different locations, security everywhere, and many entrance points. Going into every mission you will be able to set your loadout. There are various ways to eliminate your targets in the form of challenges. For me, I went in with a lethal syringe. Something you will see in all the missions are called "opportunities." By listening to various conversations around the area, an opportunity to eliminate a target will present itself. For those who want to find their own way to eliminate a target, I suggest ignoring these because they basically walk you step by step on how to eliminate a target. One of these opportunities had me follow around one of the fashion models, Helmut Kruger, who was buddy buddy with Dalia, one of the targets. After knocking him out and disguising myself as him, I called Dalia and set up a meeting. After meeting with Dalia—alone, thankfully—I stuck her with the lethal syringe and she went out immediately. From that same room was a window overlooking the runway for the fashion show and Viktor was on stage making a speech. One shot to the head with my silenced pistol and down he went. I made it to the exit and the mission was over. There are more than just one way to complete the mission. There is no shortage of challenges to replay the missions over again. Most of these challenges task you to complete the mission a certain way, such as taking out the target with a lethal syringe, like I did, or by other various means. Most of them involve making "accidents" occur, like killing Viktor with a lighting rig or a falling chandelier.
Even though there are only a handful of missions, and there's only one episode available, there are tons of other things you can do. Like going into the contracts mode (which returns from Absolution). This is probably where I am going to spend a large majority of my time. Contracts mode lets you take any level in the game and tag one of the NPCs in the level as a target. You can upload your own missions, upload it online, and download other players' missions as well. The escalation missions are similar to contracts, although these missions force you to take out targets with specific weapons or while wearing certain disguises. The other game mode, "elusive contract," was not available to play at the time of this writing.
Now, as good as these missions are, there are some major problems. The first is that it's online only. Online and offline are completely separate. You can play the game offline, but anything you unlock in the offline game won't carry over to the online game, and vice versa, even though they are identical. Okay, whatever, but the thing that annoys me the most is that if at any point you get disconnected from the internet, the game just ends and you are booted back to the main menu. This happened to me on multiple occasions. It was extremely annoying.
Then there are the loading times. Get comfortable, because the loading times are ridiculous. I timed it. From the time I hit the button to start the mission, to the time the mission finally started, was one minute and 16 seconds. One minute and 16 seconds... This is unacceptable. Even reloading a mission seems to take forever.
The other issue I have is with some of the A.I. I mentioned before that I took out Viktor with a silenced pistol from a window above the runway. That part was fine, but there were about a hundred NPCs watching him give his speech before—and they did absolutely nothing after seeing him taken out. It was as if nothing had happened.
The first episode of Hitman only offers a few missions, but they have a great amount of replay value. Unfortunately, the issues with online disconnects and loading times hinder an otherwise great starting point for what's to come.
* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company.
I have been playing video games for as long as I can remember. My earliest gaming memories come from playing Lady Bug and Snafu on my fathers Colecovision and Intellivision respectively. It wasnt until I was 6 years old and played a Mortal Kombat 2 arcade machine in a game room at a hotel that I truly fell in love with a videogame. I have so many wonderful memories of my dad and I playing Mortal Kombat on SNES every night after dinner. Throughout my childhood NES, SNES, Gameboy and Sega Genesis were the loves of my life. Here I am 29 years old and still as much in love with videogames as I ever was. And for the record... I enjoyed the Mass Effect 3 ending... sue me