Mitchel Waite © 2020

Tag : Hitman (Video Game)

Hitman – Season 1 [PS4] Review

IO Interactive made a bold move by releasing a AAA title with an ‘episodic’ business model. More so for the fans than the industry, episodic content is something in the eyes of today’s gamers associated with pay-for-play kids games that give parents their much-needed quiet time. It screams ‘find out how to squeeze me dry of as much of my money as possible’. In the UK, economy and exchange rates aside, Sony Europe seem to simply switch out the $US Dollar symbol for £GBP in their online pricing. Downloading a brand new AAA title via PlayStation Plus will set you back £59.99 (not including DLC), when you can pick up the disc copy on the high street or Amazon for £40. Even though the depreciation is heavy if you hold on to the disc for a while, you still have the option to trade it in or sell it on via eBay (or even purchase second hand, cheaper, if you can wait a few months after release). Otherwise it’s just locked on your hard disk, hoarding that much-needed storage space that AAA titles and their various content updates demand.

However, IO Interactive seemed to have struck a balance with the pricing. Hitman: The Full Experience Game Pack cost me £44.99 via PlayStation Plus, which gets you:

– 6 locations (or “episodes”), with heavy replayability values
– 2 shorter bonus episodes
– “The Sarajevo Six” (6 exclusive PlayStation 4 contracts)
– Weekly online contracts (“Elusive Targets”)
– Escalation modes
– Developer and community created contracts
– Various bonus suits and equipment items to unlock

For all of this I haven’t paid a penny more. I could have purchased these individually as and when they were released, for around £8 each. It feels so refreshing to know that the developer isn’t holding anything back because they see an opportunity to cash in on DLC. As the episodes have been released in consecutive months it has given me time to fully explore and appreciate the content. Other games have been somewhat exhausting, but Hitman still feels like a new game to me after purchasing it 12 months ago. Each new episode and elusive contract feels like an event, with the right amount of content for both heavy gamers or casual gamers who perhaps cannot invest a lot of time in it.

Now on to the good stuff; the game itself! The making of documentary sums it up well; it’s the globe-trotting glamour of Hitman 2, the sandbox gameplay from Blood Money and the mechanics from Absolution. IO have attentively studied the feedback from Absolution; which graphically looked stunning, but lacked the glamour, grandiose assassination set ups and level variety due to its North American locale. Hitman brings the tone back to a classical level with its trademark dark tone (people seem to overlook Contracts, which I thought was great). There are tonnes of ways to get your target. You can “go loud” or sneak around in the shadows for the “Silent Assassin” mission rating. The locales have an abundance of screwdrivers, scalpels and hammers to kill or incapacitate an NPC. It feels great to have this freedom from a Hitman game. The locations themselves are beautifully detailed. Whilst I was still familiarising myself with the new direction of Hitman with the opening Paris episode, the next one in Sapienza stole my nostalgic heart. It was like returning to Hitman 2: Silent Assassin on PS2 (the first game that I played in the series).

There is plenty of side content and replayability to keep coming back to. Contracts mode is back from Absolution in an improved manner, along with the ability to create your own and upload to the community server. I must confess that I haven’t explored this feature in great detail yet, so isn’t really accounted for in this review.

It’s not the perfect Hitman game (yet), but the monthly episodic nature of each location puts it within arm’s reach of its Danish developer. It’s a game that can directly evolve based on reviews and community feedback throughout a season, just like an addictive season of your favourite TV show. To gain that extra star for a full house, I only ask IO to bring back the briefcase sniper rifle from Blood Money!

Hitman Absolution

Hitman: Absolution

Agent 47 has emerged from hiding for the first time in 6 years since Blood Money, much to a divided reception. The Hitman games are for those who have a lot of patience and don’t mind the trial-and-error style of playing, with the reward of achieving a ‘silent assassin’ rating. Those elements are still present in Absolution, but the construction of the levels appear almost against that style the games are know for. The long, sprawling and open plan arenas (such as infiltrating a hospital) have been replaced by much shorter and objective-specific levels. The developers must have felt the need to update the formula to keep it fresh and entice a few newcomers. However, the story really is the weakest I have ever seen in a video game. It just doesn’t work; the enemy characters are so vulgar and despicable (which we get, is the idea) you just simply don’t care about watching them. Thankfully, the gameplay itself is enough to forget this and you don’t necessarily even need to follow the story to get an idea of what’s going on. The levels are pretty much self explanatory as they’ve always been; get from ‘A’ to ‘B’ or assassinate ‘X’. Fans will be glad to hear that the stealth element is still very much back with a bang, but some may feel it’s too much like Splinter Cell than before. The in-game achievements increase playability, as there are multiple ways you can kill your target.

Graphically, Hitman Absolution is outstanding (to a similar standard of Rocksteady’s Arkham City). The moody film noir locations look stunning with blue and red police sirens diffusing through the heavy rain. Interior locations are grimy and have a high level of detail as do the character models. Agent 47 can interact with pretty much every object lying around. He can throw a wrench to create a distraction or pick up a book and deal some heavy-handed justice to goons. This is one of the many things of Absolution which is darkly enjoyable. This seems to have had a lot more focus on art direction than previous games to create the bleak but rich environments. For example, when Agent 47 takes down a enemy with a gun before he alerts others, a slow motion camera is briefly triggered. The style is as dark as ever, echoing that of Hitman Contracts in many places.

Before playing Absolution, the idea of the new ‘Instinct Mode’ completely threw my interest off this game. However, after playing a few levels on a Professional difficulty (which does not recharge Instinct) and realising there’s no area map available, the Instinct Mode is a good replacement. In previous games you were able to plan a route via the map and see enemy NPCs, but now you have to use Instinct to see barely further than the room behind the wall, which can make for some tense situations. There is a mini-map to show you nearby NPCs, but this doesn’t detail and of the area at all; it’s more like a sonar. Once Instinct is fully depleted on the ‘Professional-Hard’ setting it will add some more once an objective is completed. When it’s at zero you can still see enemies through walls, but the ability to plot their walking path is gone.

Contracts Mode is a new online addition to the series. Players can choose from a selection of online assassination contracts which are based on the single player levels, but the target objectives are different. You can either create your own (in which you must play and succeed in before it being valid to submit to the community) or play a handful of developer created ones. Contracts Mode is a nice addition for those wanting a break from the campaign levels for a while.

Hitman Absolution has turned out to be a great addition to the series, much to the dismay of the action-heavy ‘Nuns, Guns & Agent 47’ trailer to some fans. It’s a different pace to the previous games, but I can assure you that this is still very much a Hitman game. If it weren’t for the really second-rate story and uneven length of a few levels, I’m sure this would be hitting the 5-star mark.

GTA Vice City

Video Game Nostalgia

Video games. They’ll give you square eyes if you play too long. Or, they are a darn sight better entertainment than watching EastEnders or Coronation Street for an adolescent. Aside from the movies, where else can you get immersed in the globe-trotting escapades of a secret agent, race a Ford GT through the streets of San Francisco, or have an entire urban city as your playground? Certainly not in Albert Square.

I’ve chosen to write a small blurb on a selection of games that trigger that sweet smell of birthday and Christmas wonder years nostalgia for me, on the ground-breaking PlayStation 2 console. They remind me of a simpler time; with no rent and bills, no worlds to try and change and no diets to adhere to. A time when, in fact, I should have been taking “study leave” a bit more literal!  DISCLAIMER: May trigger some happy memories.  (more…)