Thoughts on… Hitman Intro Pack

Right then, I’m planning to review HITMAN (capitals for differentiating purposes) after all the content for it has been released (it’s following an episodic model broken up into countries), and four hundred and fifty words into this article I realised I was using up a lot of content that should be in the review. So I’ll have to keep this vague- a few words on my experiences with the three missions included in the “Intro Pack” of the new Hitman, and generally what I think of it.

The pack consists of two sections: “Prologue” and a mission set in Paris.┬áThe prologue covers 47’s training and final test to become a field agent for the ICA (International Contract Agency); quite odd missions in which contracts from the seventies are replicated by actors in cardboard structures in a big missile silo. I can understand weapons firing blanks (though they feel the same to shoot in the Paris mission) and 47 not actually garroting people but it is entirely possible to drown people in toilets, so I don’t know how they get around that. The first mission’s quite small but has a fair few ways to kill your target and the second, called “The Final Test”, is slightly bigger and a fair bit more engaging. It controls largely the same as “Absolution”, right down to the weird, one-handed aiming. The Paris level is huge: it’s a massive museum hosting a fashion show run by two fashion moguls-turned Spy masters, filled with a whole load of civilians, guards, staff and bodyguards, with lots of different ways to kill them both and escape. At this point, at least (and it could all change) it does genuinely feel like a return to Blood Money-esque form; a proper sandbox map, people to kill somewhere in there and the game basically telling you “Go on then, off you go.” You can turn off all the screen furniture and assistance activated by default, so you can alter the experience to be as challenging or helpful as you feel you need.

That’s all I can really talk about at this point- I’ll save all the in-depth discussion for the review. This small chunk of HITMAN has really pulled me in; it feels like a true sequel to Blood Money, and I’m really hoping it maintains this quality for the remainder of the levels.

Only time will tell I suppose. Now if you’ll excuse me, there’s a challenge in the Paris mission where you push one target off a balcony onto the other target. I can’t not at least have a go.

UPDATE: Now that I’ve played the game a lot more I do have two major problems with it that really need to be sorted out for the next episode.

1) Loading times
The loading times are ridiculous. As a test just before writing this very sentence I loaded up the Paris map and it took just over ninety seconds. Loading times can and often do run into the forty five seconds to one minute mark, which is really bloody annoying in a game where you’ll often be reloading every time something bad goes wrong. Granted it’s now easier to deal with situations where things have gone south, but if you’re, say, going for a Silent Assassin, suit-only run you’ll be reloading at every mistake, and it quickly becomes tiresome.

2) Always online
The PS4 version of the game doesn’t require an internet connection to play, but it does require an internet connection to access all the challenges. Said challenges cover various different infil/exfiltration methods, disguise usage and assassination techniques; they are the reason to replay the mission over and over again while you wait for the next level to be released. This is bad enough (the challenges don’t even save when achieved offline and activate next time you connect to the server, you have to get them when online), but is hampered by the more irritating issue: the servers are currently rather patchy, so you’ll often get kicked off the server mid-mission. I’ve lost track of the amount of times I’ll be moving into position to take out one of the targets only to have the game suddenly stop and say “OH SHIT THE INTERNET BROKE. BACK TO THE MAIN MENU YOU GO”.

These are two problems that really need to be solved by the time the Italy level rolls out (presumably next month), but there are two bright sides on which to look; firstly these aren’t problems with the actual game’s mechanics or the like, just its delivery. Mind you, the challenges situation is a pretty glaring issue. Secondly, having done a lot of said challenges and played a whole lot of the Paris level I can say that it is bloody good, and I have no problems with the actual gameplay, systems or presentation.

By James Lambert