Friday, 24 March 2017

First Thoughts on Hitman: No Subtitle

"There's a voice, keeps on calling me..."
Thanks to a Steam sale, I recently picked up the first season pass of Hitman, a game most notable for having seasons. This is because it has been released episodically over the course of the last year, one level at a time, with extra challenges and 'elusive targets' - special assassination targets within the existing levels who must be eliminated in one attempt, and within a 48 hour realtime window - increasing the replay value and encouraging players to attempt the same missions over and over again to learn the level layouts and opportunities. Speaking of opportunities, for rookie slackers like me there are hints to lead you to particular assassination set pieces, but there are always plenty of options, including the high-risk, low-hassle option of a bullet in the head.

I stuffed up incapacitating the male model 47 bears an uncanny resemblance
to, so he was found and revived and actually walking about somewhere else
while I snatched his catwalk spot and his meeting with Blackmail Inc.
I've completed the prologue 'training' missions and the first real level so far, and it's a good balance between frustratingly difficult and insultingly easy. Enemy patrols are regular enough to predict, frequent enough to require swift action, and cones of vision finely balanced so that the guards neither seem insultingly oblivious nor utterly inescapable. Some of the opportunities seem unduly demanding, but increasing mastery allows you to unlock new staring locations and disguises which would make for radically different approaches. To increase one's mastery of each level, there are plenty of challenges to attempt, mostly relating to assassination methods, locations and disguises (including a whole set for doing the Paris mission disguised as a vampire magician,) although I suspect that some of them may be out of my reach if they require me to clock up collateral damage. I can live with a few incidental kills if they are corrupt FSB agents or PMC heavies, but draw the line at civilians.

Hitman is a game that rewards patience and observation, but does not demand long periods of inactivity and gives you plenty to look at and discover as you go through. It also, as I feel is necessary for assassination games, paints an ugly enough picture of your targets that you don't have to feel too bad lobbing them over a rail into the Seine (especially not when there's a punning achievement on offer.)