Agent 47 has had tough years, with Absolution and (the sort of reboot?) 2016 entry “HITMAN” getting flak for various reasons. Now I liked Absolution but understand why people don’t like it. HITMAN had many problems with its release and the episodic didn’t work at all, as gamers were overcharged, lied too about content and thus Square Enix decided to sell the rights to another publisher. It wasn’t the game’s fault and actually, it wasn’t bad. Not great but a decent stab at fixing the issues and presenting a game the fans could admire. Now HITMAN 2 is coming out and I dare ask whether Agent 47 is still relevant and whether fans like me or newcomers should even bother?
Contracts, not episodes (sort of)
There’s no stupid episodic release structure this time around. And thank God that WB had the right idea just to the release the game as it is. HITMAN 2 will be the full package that won’t have technical issues when buying thus ripping customers off or hide story content until the full game is released.
Yet the game still feels like its episodic and with only 6 missions in the main game, I don’t think it’ll last long. I personally didn’t bother to play HITMAN until the whole game was released. And I managed to finish it in one weekend. The game does not have a lengthy campaign and I can see this being the case as well.
I get it, there’s tons of re-playability but only having a handful of missions can result in players getting a little tired of repeating the same, large, open locations over and over. Also, this episodic nature to the game’s campaign makes the story flow a little crudely, never giving enough time for the narrative to develop or allow characters to blossom.
Increasing the scale of the contract
At times during HITMAN, while admiring the scale and detail of the worlds you assassinated in, I did think once or twice that some levels were too big. This only came about when getting lost or needing to wait for something to happen and did very slowly because NPCs or your targets would have to walk for 5 minutes to get to where you wanted them.
The hotel in Bangkok, while detailed, had an interesting story behind the contracts. It just felt way out of proportion. There were entire areas you didn’t need to go into. And it just felt like 30% of the map was a waste. The Hitman series has proven before those smaller areas can prove challenging and have a great amount of detail. Silent Assassin had the Jacuzzi Job, Tracking Hayamoto, and Basement Killing. Then there’s Blood Money which arguably had some of the best contracts in the entire franchise. Cleaver setups, inventive ways to kill the target and plus the maps were detailed yet not complicated. The opera house, Suburban neighborhood and Rehab clinic were tightly crafted and when a big level came along like the street carnival, it made it even more impressive.
These maps didn’t need to be massive and while I do like the level of detail in the maps for HITMAN, sometimes they just lack depth or have a “meh” payoff.
Working for your money
Codename: Agent 47 and Hitman: Blood Money did have some interesting ideas for mechanics. Codename: Agent 47 allowed players to buy resources and the same goes for Blood Money. Blood Money did better and had a notoriety system. This allowed Agent 47 to be recognized if he had been too messy on his previous contracts. This made covering your tracks important as you could find yourself being hunted before the level began. You didn’t need to be a silent assassin but witty enough to get rid of witnesses and evidence. In HITMAN that wasn’t the case and the focus was more on scoring points. It’s fine as points did unlock new content for the mission with new starting points, gear and disguises.
I would’ve been more in favor of earning money and paying for my resources rather than simply unlocking them. Just felt too easy to muck up and not feel any real consequences.
Lack of Identity?
Agent 47 is an interesting character with a great backstory. We’ve seen him commit cold-blooded murder in the first three games going from sinisterly calculated to compassionate savior. Codename 47 to Contract had projected his emotional ups and downs then Blood Money brought it forward even more with engaging themes and personality traits which made you root and dislike this bald-headed killer. Then Absolution came out and most people thought it went too far with its approach on Agent 47’s attitude towards the younger clone, Victoria.
I thought it was a little hammy at times but an interesting direction, compared to how he is now. Agent 47 was made colder, lifeless and for a better word of it, a little dull. Hopefully, Agent 47 will have more complexity to him in HITMAN 2. I’m sure IO Interactive will do his character justice.
While Hitman was a good return to the series roots, it did have some growing pains to get through. I like the level of detail in the level design and contracts you engaged in. But I do miss some of the traditional elements. Hitman: Blood Money is still the best in the series and it knew the balance. IO Interactive think bigger is better and it does show some of the problems with the core gameplay. The story for HITMAN was okay but unfolded like an average TV thriller.
I’m willing to give HITMAN 2 a chance as IO Interactive gets a lot of things right, despite making new issues.