4.6 / 5

HITMAN, the first in the series to go without a subtitle, is another trip into the life of the silent assassin himself: Agent 47. After the mixed reviews of Absolution, both IO Interactive and Square Enix are hoping to win back fans that they had lost and secure new fans in the process. The game before Absolution, Blood Money, is widely regarded as one of the best in the series… but how does this new entry stack up against what many consider the gold standard of the series?

The game is quick to put you into the action, with two training missions (set 20 years before the rest of the game) to get you up to speed on everything you can do in this game. It is a vast improvement over Blood Money’s training level, that guided you step by step. Here, you can explore and discover all you need without feeling strung along rails.

Paris is the first real mission you get to explore, after the initial training area. This is an area packed with potential witnesses, two targets in vastly different areas, security everywhere, and a fashion show at the center of it all. To Agent 47, it’s hardly a challenge. The level is not very large, but it is tall. This lends itself to all sorts of vantage points and potential to get around a target to ambush them.

The interesting thing to note is the story that unfolds here. A secret auction above the fashion show, selling information stolen by a secret cadre of spies. 47 is here to see that it is the last such auction… but of note is who authorized the contract in the first place.

After getting his fill of Paris, 47 takes a well deserved vacation in Italy. Sapienza is a pleasant seaside community, with beautiful beaches, a lovely church, wonderful food, and a luxurious mansion that has a biological weapon being built beneath it. Strange how 47 always ends up near such things.

Two targets and the bio-lab are the targets here. The mission itself is quite interesting, but again it is the story that interests me most. Like in Blood Money, a perceptive player willing to explore and take their time can get an amazing backstory to one of the targets… and lead them to thinking they’re going mad, before dealing the killing blow.

The third episode leads 47 to Marrakesh, Morocco. The city stands on the brink of all out anarchy, with a banker hiding in a consulate as the target of the riotous crowd’s rage. He very well deserves his fate, but 47 plans on meeting him before the crowd. He is not the only one, though… the military official that is stoking the flames to justify a coup is also on the target list.

While 47 may only be in it for the money, he may well sleep better knowing this mission might lead to a less unstable North Africa. Or, maybe he might think it will lead to less business. Either way, the money is the prime factor.

Again, story is all over here, for the player willing to look and listen for it. Every mission has a common thread. There is another organization pulling strings… and 47 is part of a power struggle within it, whether he knows it or not.

HITMAN is being released episodically. These three missions are all that we have at the moment, but new content will be coming in the next few months. In the meantime, players can create their own contracts to challenge each other and IO Interactive regularly releases time sensitive contracts that can only be attempted once. Hone your skills. You’ll need them.

In terms of graphics, the game is very well presented. Very few slowdowns, good water effects, realistic movements, and detailed environments all combine into a pleasurable experience. Add to that solid mechanics, many of which are taken from Absolution, and a story that gets deeper the more you explore, as it was with Blood Money.

It seems that IO Interactive took what was best about their last two major Hitman releases and molded a solid entry out of them.