Small Big Murder – Hitman: Intro Pack Review

He leaves no traces, but his work changes the face of our world. He is invisible, but everyone knows his face, except for the creators of two terrible adaptations. And recently, he has been released in small portions, so it is not possible to say much about Hitman at once. The contents of the starter pack – two training polygons and a stage at a fashion show in Paris – only suffice for a short review, which is below.

We still do not give up on my opinion about Absolution The game was good, but the way Hitman earned its bread was remarkably strange and focused on completely different things. But even with extreme sympathy, we still agree with the outraged crowd that forced IO Interactive to roll back the series’ evolution to the righteous Blood Money.

And you know what? It serves it right. The aforementioned level in Paris clearly shows why Absolution is so easy to criticize.

Hitman -intro-Pack-Mansion

The previous part never, never gave such freedom. The permissiveness and scale, hitting the head at the threshold of the vast French mansion, cannot be compared to the guts and gates of the linear Absolution. This is an open, spacious, and lively world: hundreds of people bustle in the hall, businessmen order their favorite drinks at the bar, glancing towards the podium with extravagant models, journalists get nervous before a major interview and curse when someone extra gets in the frame, bodyguards menacingly loom in the corridors – and on the upper floors, the underground elite trade for stolen state secrets. And among all this, you are a hired killer, whose efforts today’s forbidden auction will be the last.

The mission offers only two targets – to eliminate the organizer of the event and his accomplice – but does not limit the choice of methods at all. If you want, you can poison their drinks and enjoy the spectacle from the sidelines, arrange an unfortunate accident with a falling chandelier, elegantly strangle them in a deserted place, drown them in a toilet, explode them during a report, shoot them from a balcony, or stage a whole performance, pretending to be a participant in the auction, and canonically put a bullet in the back of the head during a personal meeting. Where Absolution usually danced between two options – dumb and planned by the authors – occasionally allowing them to be combined, the new game pours the widest range of equally valid means on your head and allows you to build your own style of play. In short, the old good scheme has returned, only multiplied by some indecent number.

The hay flowing in the backyard is the best place to store criminal authorities.

The flowing Seine in the backyard is the best place to store criminal authorities.

Apart from bare improvisation, Hitman offers a multitude of pre-prepared scenarios. Well, such abundantly scripted monuments to your professionalism, crowned with some particularly sophisticated killings – were the prop guns replaced with real ones in the mission with the theater in Blood Money? Here, there is simply an insane amount of such things. Some NPCs incessantly reveal very useful facts for our task, and by using such loopholes, one can grasp a chain of events that allow for a clean and impressive execution of the job. The best part is that all these “multi-moves”, whether it’s the trademark game of disguises or a cunning accident, are completely different but equally complex and captivating.

As a result, Hitman relies on replayability and ensures it even on training maps. The total variability combined with the size of the location leads to the fact that during the next playthrough, one can easily come across places that have never been seen before and pull off something that feels radically different from the last attempt. Moreover, the game rewards those who excel with bonuses like new entry points to the level, additional hiding spots, and secret ways of completing the mission – which only encourages returning again and again. How can one resist trying again, but this time as a stylist? Or, for example, completing a challenge by finishing the assignment without changing costumes. And then!.. In short, there is definitely enough content for about 10-15 hours. And that’s without the contracts mode with custom targets and special conditions for their elimination!

A jet-setting mission

It is played in the expected classical manner and in many ways resembles the same Blood Money. Some things from Absolution, however, remained, but only in the correct and polished form. For example, the cheating instinct, cover, or, here, the detection system: remember those moments of blissful absurdity when you, dressed in a police uniform, became the most suspicious person in the world for all the other cops in the city? When we watched the first gameplay footage from a distance, it seemed to us that a similar nuisance would transfer to the new part, so we were scared in advance – but in reality, it was not necessary. The developers found the best way out of the situation and organized the bots into a complex hierarchy with adequate social connections. That is, roughly speaking, among a bunch of soldiers, it’s hard to remember everyone, so only the soldiers nearby will suspect a bald face on duty – the rest won’t even raise an eyebrow. But many know the personal bodyguard of an important person, and they will see through your disguise in an instant. This detail is really cool because stealth becomes reasonably more difficult, and what is happening looks more convincing.

A knockout move

Unfortunately, the scourge of modern games, questionable artificial intelligence, is once again ruining everything. Despite the fact that the actions of the surrounding characters have become more complex and lifelike, the virtual crowd behaves even more foolishly than before. For example, you can confidently climb on ledges in a top model costume and peek around corners in front of the guards – in the worst case, they will drop a line like “oh, you’re so strange” and continue guarding the bushes. To be fair, a couple of times we did get a smack on the nose, testing the patience of some bouncers, but for that, we had to literally ram them with our forehead for 5-10 seconds. The computer’s strange reaction to the player’s antics is a flaw inherited from the beta, and it’s not clear why the release version hasn’t improved in this regard at all.

Furthermore, the local AI is far from being reliable and blatantly malfunctions when interfered with from the outside. NPCs forget to say the necessary lines, get confused in scripts, get stuck in a loop, suddenly discover the ability to see through walls, and miraculously go blind – and this can happen to anyone, from a random plumber to a key target. There is nothing more frustrating than spending half an hour implementing the perfect plan and ruining it just because the target decides never to return to their office halfway there.

Currently, this is the main complaint about the game. Social stealth, heavily reliant on interaction with artificial intelligence, can easily be ruined by the flaws of programmed brains, and in Hitman, they periodically shatter the beautiful illusion, hindering immersion. So there you are, all professional assassin-like, calculating how to lure that worker into the utility room, and then it turns out that no one will notice if you strangle him in the middle of the room. Try to understand how such shortcomings have seeped into such an old mechanic. The previous games in the series were not flawless in this regard either, but they can’t be called problematic.

An unnoticed murder

An unnoticed murder goes unnoticed.

Plot? Well, it’s definitely shaping up, but for now it’s not too prominently in the foreground. Being a bit of a prequel and a slight reboot, the game starts with a tutorial that takes us back to Agent 47’s past, focusing on his training days at the Agency. It’s a moment of delight for fans who will undoubtedly squeal at the sight of Diana Burnwood, and an introductory part for everyone else to understand what’s going on. Apart from the prologue, there’s only a trailer in the best traditions of spy thrillers, where everyone carefully hides a secret behind grim faces, and Liam Neeson surely plays one of the roles. It’s not possible to extract anything coherent from it right now, but it’s probably safe to hope for a somewhat solid narrative.

The subject of endless debates and the cause of serious concerns for the fate of the franchise was the decision to switch to a serialized format, which IO Interactive themselves hesitated about until the last moment. Initially, “Hitman” was supposed to be released like any normal game and only be supplemented with new episodes, but after a suspicious silence, it became clear that even the base content would be divided into several parts. Still don’t see anything good in this? Let’s take a look together.

Strutting the catwalk

First and foremost, with the current model, the authors will be able to pay much, much more attention to each “series”, its scale and content. Instead of a bunch of mediocre levels, we will gradually be given huge detailed areas filled with tasks and ways to complete them, and we’re all for it. The episode in Paris already inspires confidence, surpassing most of the best moments of previous games in terms of scope, gameplay possibilities, and development, so monthly deliveries of large map packs of similar quality sound tempting.

So why not hold back the release and release everything at once, beautiful and ready, let’s say, in December 2016? Not long ago… We have already talked about the advantages of the episodic system. In general, one of them was the ability to receive feedback from the audience and make changes based on it in a timely manner. By releasing the game in fragments, developers rely on “live” criticism and, as a result, are more likely to bring the product to the desired state. The project’s creative director even admitted that the Hitman engine was redesigned for these very needs, and the team intends to monitor players’ streams to understand where to go next. Did you want to be heard? Here’s your chance.

Returning to the story part of the game, this also applies to it. The presentation in the style of modern TV series, one wants to believe, will help determine the narrative vector and bring the character of Agent 47 to perfection, and the long-suffering attempts to wrap a decent intrigue around him – to a logical and interesting story at its core.

A lethal takedown

In security, there are either hipsters or heroes from The Order: 1886.

It will be interesting to see what this experiment will ultimately lead to. The studio has many advantages in this situation, and if everything goes according to plan, such an approach will be more than justified. Who knows, maybe even Thief will join the series later on.

In its current state, Hitman is not perfect, but it is very close to the ideal form. We continue to keep our fingers crossed and believe in a bright future for the series, which is currently only separated from it by technical flaws.

P.S. Not the most comprehensive review, huh?

PC, PS4, Xbox One
Square Enix
IO Interactive
Release Date:
Editor's rating:
Is it worth playing? (If the score is more than 70%)



More Reviews