Hitman: The Complete First Season PS4 Review

February 9, 2017 by  
Filed under PS4, Reviews & Features, PlayStation

Publisher: Square Enix  Developer: IO Interactive  Genre: Stealth  Players: 1

Age Rating: 18+  Other console/handheld formats: Xbox One

Hitman: Absolution was, for some, a bit hit and miss. Mostly, fans of the series didn’t like the way in which the game took a linear approach to the way you assassinated targets, and although you were still able to take people out in any order, the levels felt marginally confined and players also felt it had become a generic shooter as opposed to a stealth game. Other complaints included the fact that each level centered around the story and characters rather than having single contract hits, though with the focus of the game being story-oriented, that was to be expected.

I’ve always thought Right Said Fred lived a double life…

Thankfully Hitman seems to have hit the right notes and has brought players the game they were hoping for – Blood Money 2. Single contract hits are back and the levels are very open, with multiple ways to assassinate targets. As always you are able to use disguises – at one point you can even take a turn on the catwalk disguised as a male model! – and the approach to missions is very much stealth-based, with Agent 47 popping like a balloon after being hit by only a couple of bullets should any combat occur. Needless to say, combat is very much discouraged.

The story here has taken a bit of a back-seat; I honestly can’t remember the names of the characters that you assassinate or what the core story is about, and considering Hitman is now going to be episodic and series-like, the story should have had a bit more of an impact. Still, the gameplay more than makes up for that, with everything here that fans of the series enjoyed prior to Absolution, and whilst the main story and accompanying missions are fairly short, Hitman offers a ton of replay value.

In fact, what makes up most of Hitman are the vast array of challenges for you to complete. With the story taking a backseat, many, many challenges are available, from smaller missions including only killing a target wearing a particular disguise or using a certain method, to bigger missions including escalation missions, in which you have to complete a goal and then repeat said goal but with new goals being added, to killing extra targets. You also have your elusive targets, targets that become available for a short period of time and only offer you one chance to take them out, so should you fail to kill them, you’ll never be able to try again; these missions need to be planned very efficiently.

Hitman is as tongue-in-cheek as ever.

During gameplay there will also be Opportunities that pop up, goals that give you the opportunity to take down a target a particular way and are revealed through eavesdropping on conversations. Of course, you can play Hitman any way you would like, and these opportunities can be missed, though opting to do some challenges will reward you with cinematic kills in which a short cutscene will play out and finish on Agent 47 killing the intended target. With there being very few cutscenes, thanks in large part to the short story, these scenes are welcome when you find them as you get to see more of Agent 47 doing what he does best.

Also making a comeback is the elusive Silent Assassin score, though a new Professional difficulty level has recently been added, something that can be unlocked once you have mastered each level, which is no easy feat. Unlocking Mastery levels grants you new weapons, items that can be smuggled into new areas for you to use, and different starting points for Agent 47. There’s a ton of rewards for all of your hard work.

Sometimes there will even be special levels for you to complete, such as the recent Holiday Hoarders Christmas-themed level – it basically turned the entire first level all Christmassy, and whilst it may not seem like much, it is certainly a novelty to see Agent 47 dressing up and becoming a killer Father Christmas – after targeting the actual Father Christmas and stealing his outfit! The Hitman games have always had a certain tongue-in-cheek element to them, and Hitman is certainly no different. There are also bonus missions for you to complete, though unfortunately you do have to buy them separately, so even Hitman isn’t entirely free from the terror that is microtransactions.

There are many creative kills, though you have to be an ardent player to find them all.

Another addition is the Contracts mode, in which you are able to create your own contract hits for other players to… play. Upon starting a level of your choosing, all you need to do is mark an NPC, kill them, and the method in which you kill them is tracked and then saved. All you have to do really is play the same levels but with some slight alterations as you set up a kill, though thankfully there is a helpful tutorial mode that delves deeper into what you have to do to create your own Contract.

Hitman in a nutshell is basically lots of menus to navigate, and lots of individual challenges for you to complete, and for a game based entirely on single contract hits, this layout couldn’t be more better suited. In fact, I question why there ever needs to be another Hitman game again when IO Interactive could easily keep adding levels and missions, even cutscenes, to the ones that are already available. However, with the open-ended final cutscene, and the fact that the game structure is now episodic and series-like, of course it stands to reason that a second series is already in development, though a lot more content has been promised in the meantime and so far that promise has been lived up to.

Of course, whilst the game already offers so much, it isn’t by any means perfect – as mentioned the story is on the short side, though if you are also quite the skilled Hitman player, then your skill level will actually show how terrible the AI can be at times. However, as someone who isn’t very adept when it comes to stealth, I didn’t actually notice many problems with the AI myself, except during one mission in which the enemies were all pretty much flocking out of one doorway, all lined up nicely for the end of Agent 47’s pistol. Yes, whilst stealth is encouraged, sometimes with the right cover and timing, you can engage in combat, though at the expense of achieving that elusive Silent Assassin score, or in my case, any score at all… Hitman takes a lot of skill to master but gamers of any skillset will find something to enjoy when playing. I do wish I had the patience to find more of the elusive kills as they feel all the more rewarding than just pushing someone off a ledge, though I still had a lot of fun with this game.

Death by Dance Mat! As morbid as it may be, deaths certainly give a satisfying pay-off for all of your hard-work and patience.

Hitman is a game that also offers what players wanted – single contract hits and many ways to kill targets, and if you are an avid explorer, there are certainly some creative kills to be found. It seems that IO Interactive have listened to fans – David Bateson is back with his iconic voice, after fans were up in arms at his possible replacement in Absolution, and the developers have stripped the game back to being an open sandbox game which enables you to kill targets any way you would like.

If you are a fan of Blood Money, then this game will certainly whet your appetite, and if you were patient enough not to buy the Hitman episodes separately upon their original release, you can now buy them all in a bundle for £44.99 – that’s around £7.49 per episode – which is slightly less cheaper than when the episodes had previously been released individually. If you shop around, you can also get the full physical release for under £40.