[Review] ‘Hitman’ Deconstruction of an Assassination

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Agent 47 is back in the latest “Hitman” entry. This time around, Io-Interactive gives us a bit of a rebooted experience. No worries though, it keeps 47’s past intact and helps to build a richer history in the Hitman-verse by showing how he came to work with his handler, Diana Burnwood and his entry into the ICA.

I point that out, because “reboot” has the tendency to be a nasty word to fans of things that were already established. In fact, I was hesitant about this “Hitman” entry, when I heard that dreaded word, “Reboot.” Lucky for us fans of the franchise, I swallowed my hesitancy and expectation and it turns out, there is no reason to worry.

“Hitman” takes Agent 47 back 20 years, following his escape from the asylum in Romania (story from the first Hitman title). 47 is chosen by the ICA due to his particular skill set. While the head of the ICA has his doubts about 47 and his untraceable past , ICA handler, Diana Burnwood sees something special about 47 and demands he be given a fair chance at proving himself.

Agent 47 is given two simulation missions of past ICA operations. These act as a test to see if 47 is a capable silent assassin, while also reintroducing gamers to the stealth action they are used to from other “Hitman” titles.

The first location challenges you to  assassinate a art thief named Kalvin “The Sparrow” Ritter. The Second location puts the crosshairs on a Soviet spy named Jasper Knight on who is located  on a Cuban airfield.

If you have the skill and cunning to pass these tests, the ICA will send 47 on a mission to Paris.

The Showstopper mission takes place during a fashion show at Palais De Walewska. You are given instruction to take out spy organization IAGO operatives, Dahlia Margolis and Viktor Novikov. While ,Novikov is preoccupied with the fashion show downstairs, Margolis is holding an auction upstairs. The auction being held sells secrets to bidders from all over the world.

“Hitman” carefully deconstructs each location to give you freedom of choice as to how you dispatch your target. The magic and addictive nature of “Hitman” lies in how it focuses on allowing you to play through the same location, in order to incorporate different assassination techniques. It also allows for approaches that involve going in silent or loud.

For example, you might take the straight up-close and personal garrote kill, or perhaps, a knife across your targets throat, the first time around. You are then allowed to revisit using a different means of attack that could involve poisoning your target or causing a chandelier to drop on their unsuspecting heads. Different disguises will allow you to infiltrate certain areas, while others will gain suspicion. The choice is truly in your hands and that makes “Hitman” another fantastic entry to the series.

Your level of perfection, will dictate what rating you get when the mission is over. You are able to  reach all the way up to a five-star silent assassin rating. In order to do that you will have to strategize your mission in great detail.

Escalation is a new mode in “Hitman,” it challenges you to go back into the location and to take out different targets in the Palais. Each time you attempt an Escalation mission challenges are added. For example, you have to take out two targets, hack a computer, assassinate a target with a certain outfit or weapon and overcome obstacles like laser triggered mines.

Time sensitive targets also become available for a limited amount of hours. Elusive Targets appear in-game for a certain amount of time and only give you one chance to take them out, before they escape. These targets will come with their own back story and are said to be released randomly between episode releases.

“Hitman” sticks to the same gameplay we have seen in previous entires ,while tightening up the controls and revamping the graphics to look as sleek as 47 himself.  Io-Interactive gives gamers a reason to come back and revisit locations by creating a living sandbox that has a painstaking attention to detail.

The major thing that sets “Hitman” apart from previous titles is its episodic structure. In this “intro pack” we are given the prologue (two training missions) and the Paris Showstopper mission. Seven locations are set to release through the year, each will take us further into 47’s story while offering new locations and challenges to overcome as you see fit.

The episodic release model allows gamers to really take in and enjoy the levels, as opposed to finishing a level and moving onto the next without a second thought. For me, giving me the game in portions made me enjoy “Hitman” in a way I was unable to previously. I have been a fan of 47 since the beginning but I was guilty of taking out my target with one single method, moving on to the next level and rushing through the game. This entry lets you stop and smell the death flowers and give you a richer experience for doing so.

“Hitman” is out now on PS4, Xbox One and PC.

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