A Killer Ending
HIGH Clever assassination options.
LOW Season Finale = No more Hitman episodes for a while.
WTF Unlocking a ninja costume, complete with a katana.
IO Interactive took a huge risk with Hitman. By chopping what would have been a regular campaign into individual episodes and releasing them all monthly before a disc version hit stores (and incurring a long delay before launch in order to do so) the game looked like it might have been sunk before it launched. However, as a fan since Hitman 2: Silent Assassin, I can say that IO Interactive has crafted the best Hitman to date.
Yeah, go ahead and put that quote on the back of the box, Square Enix. I dare you.
Hitman’s final installment has now hit consoles and PC for download, and while we originally thought this would be the end of the game, IO is now calling it the end of Season One. Of course, this implies that a Season Two is coming, but for the moment, Agent 47 concludes his journey in the snowy mountains of Japan.
Episode 6: Situs Inversus smuggles Agent 47 into a luxurious, high-priced surgical center tucked away in the mountains. The institute, GAMA, has doctors that treat only the most exclusive clients and they skirt the law governing the kinds of procedures usually available. The level features a spa, a garden, a restaurant, and patient suites that would make five-star hotels jealous.
In this medical facility, Agent 47 must eliminate two targets, Erich Soders and Yuki Yamazaki. Yamazaki, a former Yakuza lawyer, roams GAMA’s grounds and meets with the hospital’s director regularly. Soders is awaiting a heart transplant procedure in the operating suites. Just because Soders is strapped to a hospital bed doesn’t make him an easy target though. Due to the hospital’s high security, 47 can’t smuggle in weapons or gadgets, and each door in the facility is unlocked by RFID remotes manufactured into hospital staff clothing. Say goodbye to lockpicks and master keycards.
As always, one of my favorite experiences with Hitman is playing a mission for the first time and spending a couple of hours just doing recon work. Due to the security restrictions at GAMA, recon is a necessity because the challenge rises but never in an unfair or irritating way.
Situs Inversus also ties the season together excellently by not only being a satisfying mission on its own, but by featuring several callbacks for longtime series fans. Some of the assassination options mirror those from older games, and thorough players might notice some special cameos. IO taking the time to provide these little nods to fans was great.
However, despite how exceptional I find Hitman, no episode launches without some complaints. I’ve said it before about previous episodes, but the rewards for mastering this mission are stale. Given that this was the finale, I was hoping for some standout gear. I would have loved a reinforced suit to boost 47’s damage resistance or a foldable sniper rifle that fits into a suitcase — the latter being an item the series is known for. Unfortunately, the best rewards are a couple of small items that can get past frisk searches. I appreciate that, but I rarely found myself getting frisked in the first place, so they’re not worthwhile.
That’s a minor complaint, though. Despite my initial skepticism, IO Interactive knocked Hitman out of the park. Each mission in Season One is classic stuff that drops players into complex, multi-layered areas with dozens of ways to complete the objective at hand. IO also packs in plenty of character and charm, whether it’s from eavesdropping on hilarious NPC dialogue or discovering the personality quirks of major players.
After finishing the season, I still find myself baffled that no other developer gives me what Hitman does. IO Interactive released the first Hitman 16 years ago (sixteen years!) and has barely changed the formula in that time. As far as I know, no developer has successfully copied it despite how simple it seems — Hitman is essentially a puzzle game at heart, but the solution to each puzzle requires one less heart to be beating when it’s complete. Rating: 8 out of 10.
Disclosures: This game is developed by IO Interactive and published by Square-Enix. It is currently available on Xbox One, Playstation 4 and PC. This copy of the game was obtained via paid download and reviewed on the PS4. Approximately 8 hours of play were devoted to the single-player mode, and the episode was completed about six times. The PS4 exclusive Sarajevo Six mission was completed once, and I spent some time in Escalation and Contracts modes, as well.
Parents: According to the ESRB Hitman is rated Mature for blood, drug reference, intense violence, strong language and suggestive themes. Although long stretches of this game can feature no violence or blood, the game is ultimately about murdering people, so it’s best for mature audiences.
Deaf & Hard of Hearing: Subtitles are available and visual cues for enemies detecting the player and trespassing warnings are available. The HUD makes Hitman a smooth experience for hard of hearing audiences.
Remappable Controls: X and Y axes can be standard or inverted, vibration can be toggled and Aim Assistance is offered. However, no button remapping is available for the controller.
Colorblind Modes: There are no colorblind modes available in the options.
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Excellent, though after the I’ve had time to clear my head, I still say Blood Money is the best in the series. Customisable weapons, money system, notoriety system, sniper rifle case etc. Also this new Hitman has a painfully generic soundtrack, and lacks the darker atmosphere of the older games (especially Contracts).
8/10 seems about right.