Hitman is back on target: we review the first instalment

Joseph Millis
Agent 47 is back on form in this new instalment of the Hitman franchise

You are Agent 47, a cool, calm, collected, bald, barcoded assassin. But given this is the genetically enhanced hero’s ninth outing (11th if you count the two movies), you probably already knew that. This reboot, however, is slightly different: it will be released in seven instalments over the course of the year, which you can buy either individually (from £7.99 each) or as a full release (£44.99).

Some things, however, stay the same: you are a master of the tools required to be a stealth assassin, including disguises, sniper rifles, pistols, small explosives, coins (to chuck to divert attention) and lock picks. You can listen in on conversations. You can snap necks – not necessarily those of your targets – and take your victims’ clothes for even more disguises. What fun. The idea is to get the job done, get out, and get home in time for tea.

This instalment starts with a training session in which you’re tasked with taking out one Kalvin Ritter, who is on board a ship living it up with the who’s who of the art world. Next up is a Cuban military base (perhaps the developers have been locked away this past year and don’t know that the US and Cuba are now BFFs) where your target is US chess master-turned-Soviet-spy Jasper Knight. After that comes the pièce de résistance, Paris, where the fun really starts.

The killing bit isn’t the toughest part of Hitman: it’s the getting away through the panicky crowd that’s the big deal. Sort out one problem (a person on the stairs you have to kill to keep quiet) and another rears its head (cops at the bottom of said stairs). Like in chess, you have to keep your cool and think three steps ahead. You won’t beat a level first time. Or the second, or third. There are too many factors involved: characters’ intentions, their movements, hidden routes through the environment. You need to be aware of everything: accidentally bump into someone and there’s a good chance you’ll set in motion a chain of events that leads to you being discovered.

The level of planning involved for a successful hit isn’t a put-off – quite the opposite. Every time I stumbled into a cop or made my presence too obvious, I wanted to immediately get back and start again, like a gaming Groundhog Day.

The Hitman franchise has stumbled in recent years: this intro pack sees Agent 47 back to his very best. Bring on the second instalment.