Before Ezio, before Altaiir, and before the assassins had a creed, there was Agent 47 whose first appearance was in the year 2000 in his first game titled Hitman: Codename 47. The more popular assassins of historical times are known for their pairs of hidden blades, while this modern day hit man has always been known for his pair of silver AMT Hardballers and fiber wire. Even with the popularity of the Assassin’s Creed franchise, it is nice to see that IO Interactive is back with the sixth entry in the series which is simply titled Hitman (2016).
I had the opportunity to check out the beta this past weekend; if you preordered the game on either PC or PS4 you also should’ve also been granted access. When people think of the word “beta,” the first thing that comes to mind is the testing of online multiplayer servers, but this game has no competitive multiplayer at all. In this case, the beta is to simply test the server connection. In the full game, the Contracts mode from Absolution will make a comeback, along with the ability to compete for the highest score among your friends. The strange thing is that both of these features are actually absent in the beta, which has me thinking it is more like a glorified demo rather than a beta.
This new entry rewinds the gameplay back to the way things were before Hitman: Absolution. The full game will return to large, wide open areas with multiple objectives and a variety of ways to take out your targets in a similar fashion to the previous games in the series, and similar to the recently-released Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes. The catch here is that these locations are going to be released in an episodic format. Thirty dollars will get you the the training missions and the first location, but if you pay the full sixty then you get all of that plus the rest of the locations when they are released.
The game encourages the player to try completing the mission in different ways. At first you are introduced to the basic game mechanics through a tutorial which comes standard in almost every video game these days. After doing this, you are introduced to feats, or bonus objectives. Most of these encourage you to use a certain item such as poison or explosives to assassinate your target in alternative fashion, while others have you exploring your surroundings in search of other hidden secrets and easter eggs. For example, you can sabotage the ejector seat of your target’s getaway jet and have walk him through a diagnostics check. I’ll leave the end result to your imagination (muhahaha!)
I purchased Absolution about a day prior to receiving a review code for Hitman (2016) to refresh my mind on the art of being a silent assassin. When playing the tutorial mission for the beta, I discovered that the controls are exactly the same. The instinct mode has also made a return in this entry, but during my time out on the field I noticed there are no limitations this time around. For you Assassin’s Creed fans, the best way to describe this is that it works just like the the eagle vision. One new gameplay mechanic I don’t remember being included in previous titles is “blending in.” If you’re wearing the right clothes, you can do things to blend into the scene and remain undetected. It was interesting to pose as the yacht crew and wipe down a table while I listened in on my target’s conversation. I then watched him get sick and run to the bathroom as a result of the poison I spiked his drink with.
The Hitman series has been a favorite in my family since Hitman 2. I have shared many memories with my dad and brother while playing these games so I was happy to learn that Agent 47 was finding his way onto this new generation of consoles. Regrettably, I feel that the episodic route that IO Interactive is taking has me thinking it will deal a blow to the game’s sales rather than help them. I fear that players may get bored quickly after completing everything that there is to do in the available locations. Of course, this depends on how quickly they will roll out each new installment. Unfortunately, the beta didn’t really help to demonstrate the kind of things which are being marketed with this new addition to the series, leaving me unable to build a real impression on what the final product is going to be like. This beta only included the few training missions which I had the honor of broadcasting on the Geeks Under Grace Twitch channel, and it only took about 90 minutes to finish. The first installment will be released next month on March 11th.
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