Hitman is, as you might expect given the series’ history and everything revealed about it so far, a serious game. One of those games that almost takes itself too seriously for its own good but it’s hard to play through the Paris mission without drawing comparisons to the deliberately silly Zoolander.
There may be no Academy for Ants or David Bowie (RIP) cameo, but nevertheless, you soon learn that the fashion show’s organisers are the leaders of an international spy ring called IAGO which uses models to infiltrate the circles of the rich and powerful in order to perform hits. Agent 47 has the opportunity to impersonate one of these operatives and is told that he has the body of a Greek god and even attracts the attention of a gruff security guard, who proclaims, “Wow. You’re handsome, like a pretty girl.”
In fact, he looks like Voldemort and one must assume (or at least, hope) that IO Interactive took inspiration from the outrageous antics of Zoolander even if the game is confined by the carefully constructed limitations one would expect of a Hitman game. Agent 47 is not a superhero, nor is he one of Assassin’s Creed’s killers and that is as it should be. Forced to confront problems and eliminate targets in a manner befitting the series’ pedigree, you can’t scale walls to enter the palace through an upper storey window or escape by leaping into a bale of hay.
The first target I track seems the easier of the two I’ve been sent to Paris to eliminate, as she sits in a second floor room removed from the crowds at the show. It is here that our friend, the unlikely model Helmut Kruger comes in. Finding him in the palace gardens and subduing him, Agent 47 assumes the guise of the world-famous fashionista and sits for an impromptu makeup session. Kruger’s clothes fit perfectly–everyone’s does in this game–and it isn’t long before Agent 47 struts down the catwalk and discover a career option he never he knew he had.
From there it is a simple matter of taking out the target, Dahlia Margolis with a bullet from a silenced pistol to the back of the head in a room removed from the rest of the palace (there are many more options, of course). Her body dumped in the adjacent bathroom, it’s time to take down the money behind IAGO, Viktor Novikov. Doing so once again proves to be a matter of deception, involving a secret meeting in the gardens and then, an abrupt and unexpected meeting with the River Seine. Agent 47’s work here done, he departs through the crypts.
Hitman offers a myriad number of ways to eliminate targets from the obvious to the devious to the subtle and you can strive to find these on your own or discover the options open to you in the game’s Challenges page. Given the relative scarcity of content contained within the first episode, the allure at this point is finding new ways to get the job done and improving on what you thought was your best.
While we’ve only seen a glimpse of the game, IO has paved the way for a complex story where everyone is being played, whether they know it or not. Unraveling that mystery may ultimately prove to be as alluring a reason to return for future episodes as the art of assassination itself even if the dialogue, as a whole, comes across as somewhat stilted. Agent 47 himself is an enigma in this game and one can only assume that his past and the things he’s forgotten from it will have a telling impact on the game’s story before the end.
Agent 47 has an unprecedented range of options open to him and an extravagant playground in which to pull any of them off but Hitman at the moment feels too short. The first episode’s story takes around two hours including the prologue which featured in the game’s beta and the Paris level and you might be best served by waiting for the full experience.
However, Hitman is a game that already feels rewarding and one that demands finesse and a certain degree of mastery. Launching this week, in the shadow of The Division, is a shame and one the game will likely suffer for commercially but I for one am eager to jump into episode two.
Hitman was developed by IO Interactive and published by Square Enix. The first episode launches on Friday, March 11th for PC, PS4, and Xbox One. A copy of the game on PS4 was provided by the publisher.