Dessert Before Dinner
HIGH The bonus missions aren’t just thrown together.
LOW Meager and boring gear rewards.
WTF Blocking off 70 percent of Sapienza for a mission.
IO Interactive has a trick up its sleeve. This shouldn’t come as a surprise as it’s the developer of a series based on an infamous assassin full of subterfuge, misdirection and disguise, but if players of the new, episodic Hitman thought six episodes were all they were getting, they were wrong. As an unexpected treat for their fans, they’ve released Hitman’s Summer Bonus Episode. This new addition puts the ‘mission’ in ‘intermission’ and features two lower-stakes assignments set in revamped maps from previous locations.
How do these differ from regular Contracts Mode missions? Let me break it down.
The first mission, The Icon, is set in Episode 2’s seaside Sapienza. The second, A House Built on Sand, happens in Marrakesh’s market streets from Episode 3.
Despite taking place in the same areas, the physical stages are redone to accommodate new mission parameters. For starters, warm sunshine bathed the original missions. In the bonus versions, both are set at night. That alone makes the locations’ moods notably different, but IO went further and cordoned off areas to effect even more changes.
The Icon asks Agent 47 to eliminate the director (who’s also the lead actor) of a superhero film shooting in Sapienza. Due to a high-budget movie being shot, most of Sapienza is blocked off. Only the main city square, some side streets and a couple of buildings are inhabitable. A full production crew, pyrotechnics team and security detail also populate the city now. Did I mention the giant robot and explosive props? Long story short, this is still in Sapienza, but for players who’ve finished Episode 2 it barely feels like it. IO could’ve made this an easy copy/paste job, but instead took time to remix the area thoughtfully.
A House Built on Sand hasn’t altered Marrakesh as boldly as Sapienza. Most of the explorable areas from Episode 3 are still open, but new bodyguards are out to protect one of the targets.
Although these extra missions have no impact on the ‘canon’ story, that doesn’t mean they’re a cakewalk. My first try of each one took me nearly an hour apiece. A House Built on Sand is particularly tricky as it features two targets and an additional information-gathering objective. On the plus side, because these aren’t Contracts Mode missions, players can save the game at any point just like in regular story missions.
Since these are lower stakes assignments, IO Interactive has pared down the Challenges and Opportunities for them. To match this threshold, each mission only features one reward item upon Challenge completion rather than the usual slew of them. It’s a shame, because the rewards that are here are disappointing—they’re basically reskinned versions of items I already had in my arsenal.
Although these new assignments for 47 are just bonus surprises, I prefer them to the normal Contracts and Escalation missions IO regularly publishes. The maps aren’t brand new, but it’s clear that care and creativity went into crafting the missions, and that the developers didn’t just push quickie content out the door to hold players over until the next official episode.
Disclosures: This game was obtained via paid download and about 6 hours were spent with this episode and other game modes. The Icon mission was completed 5 times and A House Built on Sand was completed 5 times.
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: No colorblind options are available.