Hitman Episode 1: Paris Review

TitleHitman Episode 1: Paris

What is it? – Stealth/Action/Murder Simulator

Who develops it? – IO Interactive

Released – March 11th 2016

Viktor Novikov takes a sip of the cocktail I just mixed for him, oblivious to the rat poison I added moments before. Within a couple of seconds he starts making painful groans and rushes to the nearest toilet. Unfortunately for Viktor, I make it there before him. I hide myself in a nearby closet as he bolts in and starts throwing up into toilet. I have a couple of options now. I could shoot him in the back of the head; use 47s the signature fibre wire, or just simply snap his neck. But I have another idea. I slowly sneak up behind him and to his surprise his head is shoved into the puke filled toilet. A few unpleasant moments later he is dead, and nobody is the wiser.

This is one of the many ways to kill Viktor Novikov. You could use cyanide instead of rat poison to kill him instantly. Or maybe you want to be a little less subtle. Why not walk up to him in the middle of a crowded party and brutally kill him with a fire axe? Or make it look like an accident by dropping a massive lighting rig on him while he delivers a speech. There are hundreds of ways to kill your targets in Hitman, and this is just the first episode…

HITMAN 2016-03-24 17-25-16-885.00_00_28_04.Still001

This episode contains three missions. Two of them are training missions set up by the ICA (International Contract Agency) which let you get used to the new controls and the gadgets you’ll be using in your missions, these two levels are set twenty years before the main game, explaining how Agent 47 joined the shadowy agency. While these missions are cool and well designed, the real meat of the episode lies in the third mission, the showstopper. Set at a fashion show which is being held at a palace in Paris, this mission is the biggest and most expansive mission in any Hitman game to date. Your objectives are to assassinate Viktor Novikov, owner of the Sanguine fashion house and an a associate of IAGO, a notorious spy ring. The second target is Viktors wife Dalia Margolis, a famous super model, and leader of IAGO.

The fashion show is being held at the Palais de Walewska. You’ll have to infiltrate the palace to get to your targets, luckily for you; there is a multitude of ways to do so. You could go in through the main entrance and find a hidden invitation to a secret weapons auction being hosted by Dalia Margolis, or you could sneak past a couple of guards outside and go down into the basement and get a chefs disguise. The possibilities are endless. Talking of disguises… Hitman Absolutions awful disguise system has been thankfully changed, no more will every single guard recognise you if you are in one of their costumes. Disguises are now more in line with those in Hitman Blood Money, you’ll only be noticed if you start doing illegal deeds, like hiding their dead half-naked associate in a dumpster or closet, stuff like that. There are some NPCs who’ll see though some of your disguise though. These are titled “enforcers” and they will get suspicious if you get too close, though these types of enemies are few and far between.

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Now I’ll talk about one of the most important things to get right in a stealth game, the NPCs AI. I’ve seen a lot of people complaining about the AI saying that’s too easy to exploit… But truthfully I’ve not really noticed. They seem smarter than Absolutions NPCs and there is some really cool new features, like the fact that instead of shooting you while you’re trespassing they’ll escort you back to an area you are allowed into. There are some little problems I’ve noticed like enemies not reacting to super loud noises like a chandelier falling down, but reacting to super quiet noises like me throwing a coin. Except from small issues like that, I’ve had no problems with the AI.

I imagine a lot of people have been concerned about how much content you get with the first episode. That really depends on how you play Hitman games. If you are like me and like to play through each mission tons of times to find out all the ways you can eliminate your targets then you’ll be happy. I’ve played for about 22 hours (about 15 of them are on the Paris mission) and I’m still finding unique and crazy ways to kill my targets. For instance, the other day I found out that if I time it perfectly I can push one of the targets off of a balcony who will fall onto the other target, killing them both instantly. But, if you’re the type of player you will only play the missions a couple of times before never playing them again, then there is probably 3 to 4 hours of content for you, and that isn’t that much content, especially if you shelled out the cash for the full experience pack.

Once you get bored of killing Viktor and his wife there is always contracts mode for you to play. Contracts is a mode which returns from Absolution, and is basically assassinations made by the community within the in game missions. While I like the idea of an unlimited stream of missions, so far none of which I have played have been very much fun. I’m sure in a couple of weeks there will be some more interesting ones for us to play.

One of the new modes introduced into the game is escalation. In escalation missions you have to complete a task in a certain way, then do it another four times, each time the task gets slightly more difficult. For example you’ll have to kill someone in a certain disguise with a certain weapon, then next time you’ll have to do it again without knocking anyone out, and the time after you’ll after hide all bodies within 90 seconds. I wasn’t expecting to like these escalation very much, but surprisingly I’ve been really enjoying them. Luckily the devs are frequently adding more of these into the game, good stuff.

As good as all this is there is one huge problem… YOU ALWAYS HAVE TO BE CONNECTED TO THE INTERNET!!!!!! Who ever thought this was a good idea should be fired. You’re just sitting there playing some Hitman, having a nice murder filled time… Then BOOM! You’re Internet goes off and your kicked from your SINGLEPLAYER game and guess what? YOU CAN’T LOAD YOUR SAVES IN OFFLINE MODE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAT! You’ll have to start the mission again, and even then, you won’t be able to complete challenges in offline mode. If you have an unreliable internet connection you’re gonna have an awful time playing Hitman.

Finishing off…

  • Massive amount of NPCs on screen at once!
  • Improved shooting mechanics and cover system.
  • WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED TO AGENT 47s FACE!
  • Great job by David Bateson.
  • No more annoying score system in the top corner.
  • Mastery system.
  • Great Interiors
  • Looks nice, though not much better than Absolution.

Verdict

If you enjoyed Hitman Blood Money and disliked a lot of the features of Absolutions you’ll love this game. The maps are massive and the gameplay is the best it has ever been. If you can get past the always online bullshit Hitman is a great game and one which rewards creativity. If you’re a hardcore Hitman fan like me buy it now! If not, just buy the intro pack, just to see if you like it. Could this be the best Hitman yet, better than Blood Money? I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

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