I am torn on how I really feel about this game. Much of it has to do with the fact that no matter which way you decide to buy this game, you are only getting a portion at a time and much of the replayability relies on your online connection.
In a sense, $15 dollars for a portion of a game is something that will give gamers pause. Hitman is not quite a demo but not the full game either. The idea is, gamers with get an episode a month which can add up if you buy each chunk or pay the full price upfront and HOPE that you get all 7 episodes to this game in a timely fashion. Keep this point in mind: Even if you pay $60 bucks upfront, YOU DO NOT GET the full game; your episodes will simply download as they release with no extra charge. You are pretty much getting a promissory note from Square Enix that by November, you will have the full game. Gamers will debate this breakdown because it’s already bad enough that gaming companies obnoxiously charge us for DLCs and portions of games that at one time was a part of the full game and then to ask us to have an always on internet connection just seems like asking for too much especially when the company’s server isn’t holding up.
One of the things I did like about this game is that the story is something out of most generic spy movies. Agent 47 is being brought in as a renegade agent, spy maters fighting each other, fashion moguls who are actually black market information brokers and the like. Even corny dialogue gives this a taste of what a James Bond game could be like if done for consoles.
So, as someone new coming into the Hitman series, I am very much tempted to go back and try Absolution because I am having a feeling that at the end of this new generation experiment, I am going to be left wanting. As a word of warning to those who are new as well, this is NOT Assassin’s Creed. This is not a game that rewards just for the kill but the patience needed to make the kill. Hitman relies very heavily on stealth and patience to get the best possible outcomes and a ‘run n’ gun’ mentality will not give you that.
As far as the game play is concerned, unless you are a veteran of the series, you won’t breeze through the Intro Pack as this is called. As you play, you get to learn that there is more than one way to take down targets and as said before, you will learn that you can’t always rush through a level. Because of this, I did come to like the idea of donning disguises and finding opportunities that got me into unique positions to take down targets. That is the beauty of the game. Not only does it take patience to play but you are only as good as the disguise you wear as you eliminate targets. This game is pretty much a sadist’s playground. In the training mission, there was a wicked joy I had when putting rat poison in in a target’s drink, watch them get sick and follow them as they run to the bathroom then drown them in the toilet…which got no AI response but more on that later. Prior to that, I simply knocked him out with a wrench and snapped his neck. The point is if you go through a level enough times, you can find different ways to knock off the same target. The question is, do you want to run through the same level multiple times?
This is when the Intro Pack starts to wear thin and problems start to show. You have 2 training levels you can play through and then the main mission in Paris, all of which have multiple ways to get you to the same outcome. But where this gets hampered is the reliability of your connection. The game can be played offline but you are limited to starting points and items you can choose to go in the mission with. My biggest problem yesterday is that the servers were down most of the day and only briefly could I actually try a run through of the Paris mission from another angle before the server crashed right after eliminating one of the targets with a broken chandelier. Also, once you complete the Paris mission, you can choose to do Challenges where you can go after different targets and earn bonus points if you meet certain kill conditions but again, you need to be connected online to complete this. But, it’s in the same location and most of the target are generic targets. There seems to be a good portion of the game that relies heavily on the online component in order to get as much as you can get out of this small section of the game.
The only other issue I had with Hitman is the AI which can be hit or miss at times. At times it feels spot on when no matter what you do, the AI would respond almost to what you expect, thus players have to watch ALL NPCs because if you don’t pay attention to what some of them do, you will fail. There are times however, that they do some boneheaded things. For instance, the AI response for the bathroom drowning was wrong in my opinion. It didn’t seem right that not one of the nearby guards at the bathroom seem concerned that me and my target went into the bathroom, then the commotion that had to come from my target being killed by said toilet drowning. Then my character is walking out by myself and from the time I left to the end of the mission, nobody investigated the bathroom nor found his body. Or, maybe my kill technique was just that good but I doubt it. There were some other issues I had where the AI wasn’t as immersive as it could be. There was one time I interrupted a phone conversation and the other person just kept right on talking even as I strangled the phone’s owner. I also found it weird that as you changed disguises, you couldn’t hide them (yes, I know it’s a bit much) as you were hiding bodies. Thus, you may have dumped a body in the freezer but your disguise is still on the ground. When AI guards came to check the area, they would walk right by your discarded disguise and never report in or treat it as suspicious.
To sum up, the game play elements are pretty good as you learn the different ways into and out of situations in this game. It’s fun as well to sit back and observe all that’s happening around you as well as look for opportunities in which to take out your targets. Many of them are unconventional. It’s actually great to play a game in which not everything is solved by gunfire but by blending in and not leaving a trace if possible.
The bigger problem is convincing gamers to pay even a portion of a game that’s going to be released over 7 months. Sure the Intro Pack may be enough to entice gamers to get their feet wet but what about just releasing a demo to see if this is something people really wanted to get into? This new method of paying for games is walking a thin line of convincing studios to dilute gamers further and further for gamers. What we paid for at the same price 10 years ago, we were given a full game; nowadays almost every game you buy, there is DLC waiting to happen.
The biggest problem is of course in order to get the most out of this game, you need to be connected online. There are challenges to do, more ways to play each level and gear to open but it’s as good as your connection or the server on the other end. These issues should make new gamers to the series really think about if they want to plunk down any money to an episode of a game. If you are really unsure, wait the full disk release which is supposed to come out in 2017.
2.75 Boxes of Rat Poison out of 5