Globetrotting assassination might sound like hard work, carrying all those bodies around and avoiding being spotted, but in the crime-ridden world of gun-for-hire Agent 47 it’s a surprisingly creative profession. Fun, even, if you can call choking, shooting, crushing, exploding, stabbing, incinerating and pulverising your various targets enjoyable.
Square Enix’s episodic experiment has wrapped up its final episode, which took us to the futuristic labs of a Japanese medical facility. Much of this reboot has, in true Hitman fashion, transported players to gorgeous locales: a fashion show in Paris, a seaside town in Sapienza and a luxury hotel in Thailand. But it’s also invited us into a dark criminal underworld, such as a militia training camp in the heart of Colorado.
This counterpoint has always been Hitman’s strong point, but it’s in the small details and individual mechanics that Hitman shines. It has countless opportunities to kill and maim your targets in creative ways, such as replacing a chef’s cooking oil with nitroglycerin and luring targets into elaborate boobytraps. Secret challenges and timed bonus missions have been gradually added to the game over the course of six monthly instalments, and they’re all included in this season pack. Stealth gameplay has improved since the previous Hitman title, Absolution, while the controls are more accommodating, allowing for more inventive play. Agent 47 is easier to handle too, no longer moving around like his shoelaces are tied together.
Hitman’s only real flaw is its voice acting – no matter what picturesque location you visit you’ll hear droning American accents – and its episodic structure results in a vague, underwritten story that never picks up any pace. Season two is confirmed, so expect more in the way of flash, bloody murder. But as a reboot to one of the genre’s best franchises, this is a special treat, best played slowly and patiently. At its best, there’s nothing in gaming that’s quite so deviously inventive.