Hitman : Episode 1: PS4 Review
Released by IO and Square Enix
It doesn't pay to be impatient in Hitman.
That's the big takeaway from the episodic first chunk of the game that's been unleashed.
Once again, it's back to the world of Agent 47 and his bald-headed ways of assassination in a game that appears to go right back to the start of the franchise. In the sixth iteration of the series, and in the first episode, it's about getting back to the basics and unleashing your powers of killing, while gaining skills and rewards for your efforts.
Set before Hitman: Absolution, the game sees you assigned to a handler and assessed for duty before being unleashed on a main mission. Starting off with “The Prologue”, and set in a secret ICA training facility, the Prologue features a pivotal moment in Agent 47’s life - his introduction to the ICA and very first meeting with his future handler Diana Burnwood. The Prologue features two free-form training hits, which will introduce players to the features and mechanics of the upcoming HITMAN game.
Starting off on a boat in Aussie, the first job is to eliminate Kalvin Ritter - but first you have to infiltrate that boat, in the least possible suspicious manner. Which means taking a disguise off a mechanic, heading into the bowels of the boat and ensuring that you can track Ritter down. Tracking of the target is easy enough (simply press R1 to bring out the baddie in a red hue) but whereas walking around before was easier due to NPCs not paying any attention, this time things have taken a turn for the more realistic.
The second sees you unleashing all kinds of chaos with an ejector seat and a target and is much fun but requires a lot more thought and opens up the world to opportunities revealing, where eavesdropping gives you a better idea of how to execute the specific targets, rather than slithering in with stealthy intent.
Once these training missions are accomplished, it's on to the main event - the assassination of two key characters in secret organisation IAGO - and at a Fashion show, no less. And it's Paris that really impresses with the open world ethos truly coming to life in a way you'd not expect. The scope is incredible and occasionally, 47 would find himself lost in the bowels of the giant house as he looked around. Graphically, the game's passable - it's not exactly top notch, but the quality of the NPCs and the world around 47 no doubt means that the grunt of the PS4 is suffering a little.
Occasionally, load times are a bit on the long side, which is a pain when you have to reload sections and relaunch games, but it does give you time to rethink some strategy, which is really a big part of this episodic series.
Online connectivity has been non-existent due to server issues in the times I've tried to play this, which is a shame, as that's where some of the extra content lies, in that you're given extra ways to complete the missions and rewards for certain measures. Square Enix has sent out a statement saying that IO is working on this, and it's to be hoped that for episode 2 the game's back on track.
All in all, the cool and composed nature of Hitman makes the episodic nature a necessity; there's too much scope to do it all properly in one hit alone. It may lead to some criticism of feeling unfinished, but given this is the start of the book, let's just wait and see where the following chapters take it.