Hitman has finally returned to form.
After the campaign-driven Hitman Absolution, it’s nice to see the series venture back to open-ended environments and away from a linear level structure. Since the game is gradually releasing content throughout 2016, I’m going to give my impressions on-the-go before I give my final score at the end. Those who have played the Beta will already been familiar with the training, so instead I’m going to jump straight into the game’s first expansion: Paris.
As the starting piece of downloadable content, Paris presents a grand opening that pits you in the middle of its annual fashion show. The targets are Viktor Novikov and Dalia Margolis, both of whom run a spy ring and are looking to sell a list containing the true identities of undercover British agents. Whether you simply “wing it” or follow a specific assassination method, player choice always remains the focus. Since this latest title follows the beginning of Agent 47’s journey from rogue killer to legendary assassin, there is a basic story running in the background, but each hit feels like its own separate entity.
The tools that you use to take our your targets can vary, though before each mission you can plan a number of items in your load out. This includes selecting your weaponry, clothing or any additional items, such as a lock pick to bypass doors without the need of a key. Loading up the menu will show you which assassination methods are available, as well as allowing you to track each one and give you clues on how to achieve it.
One method included learning the ingredients for one of the targets’ favourite cocktails, before I poisoned it, following him back to the bathroom and drowned him in the toilet. Another involved disguising Agent 47 as one of the show’s main fashion models, allowing me access my second target in a one-on-one meeting. There’s no right or wrong way to take out the people on your hit list, but there are always suggestions.
Anyone that works at the venue that isn’t a guest can have their cloths stripped off for Agent 47 to use. It could include catering staff, waiters, make-up artists, or even fashion models. I often ended up taking the disguise of an armed guard, because it allowed me to enter any area across the manor and its surrounding estate. It’s also important to hide those you have knocked unconscious or killed, in order to reduce your chances of being detected.
You do have to be careful however, since those in the same line of work may not recognise you as a familiar face. White dots will appear above the heads of people who might get suspicious if you get too close to them, so changing clothes won’t always result in guaranteed anonymity. If you get caught by a security camera as well, then be prepared to locate the room that stores the tapes and destroy any trace of your whereabouts.
Despite the fun I’m having taking out my contracted hits, there are some technical issues I find quite infuriating. It might seem like a small gripe, but accessing the menu simply takes too long. It freezes and isn’t a sleek operation, resulting in an overly long pause whilst you check the in-game map, or plan your next assassination method. I hope they fix this in an upcoming patch, because it’s ruining what is mostly a well-executed experience.
Paris showcases a variety of opportunities when it comes to assassinating your targets. There’s so much to take advantage of that it’s going to take a long time to master the level completely. I especially admire the amount of effort that’s gone into detailing the area and making it as lively as possible. I wish the menu system wasn’t interrupting my seamless plans to execute targets, but fingers crossed it’s sorted out in the next patch.
*Hitman was provided to Start Replay on PS4 by Square-Enix