Hitman Review: Sound Execution

Square Enix
Square Enix /

Agent 47 returns, but is his new business policy something to worry about?

Version Reviewed: PS4

I came into Hitman with something of an uneasy trepidation. How do you review, as Square Enix has called it, “the game industry’s first digital AAA episodic launch”? With the first episode containing just three maps, albeit ones with plenty of breathing space and replay value, is it possible to justify dropping $60 on a game that we so far have only seen ¼ of?

As pertinent as these questions are, however, they quickly faded into the background as I became absorbed into the art of assassination. Hitman’s business model may be a legitimate and understandable put-off for some, but–in terms of pure gameplay–this is perhaps the best shape Agent 47 has been in since Hitman: Blood Money.

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Back when the Hitman beta came out in February, I found myself mildly amused, but not overly impressed, with the initial two maps that were available. These two missions essentially act as extended tutorials, as players familiarise themselves with Agent 47’s extended skillsets, and so both are left feeling a little limited and small-scale compared to what we’ve come to expect from a Hitman game. It is, without a doubt, the Paris map that represents the “piece de resistance” here, and the entire setting shows off IO Interactive’s masterful talent when it comes to sandbox level design. The setting is grand and lavishly detailed, the open-ended gameplay rewards player discipline and intuition, and all 24 of the possible scenario-based assassinations are gleefully creative in their own way.

If there’s one positive takeaway from this new episodic format for the franchise, it’s that the rationing of new levels encourages the player to make use of the replay value of each setting, rather than breezing through the story in search of new environments and targets. Speaking of the story, the thread-bare plot – which focuses on Agent 47’s origins with the ICA – feels secondary to the gameplay, especially in comparison to the weighty narrative of Hitman: Absolution. That said, the cut-scenes are well-produced and threads of intrigue are at least woven for future episodes as they release on a monthly basis.

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IO Interactive has doubled down on the enhanced power of the current-generation hardware too, with each setting adorned with gorgeous backdrops and inhabited by hundreds of bystanders, with no one person looking the same. This comes at a cost however, at least with regards to the PlayStation 4, where my framerate became wildly inconsistent among larger crowds. The almost unbearable loading times are also especially frustrating for a game in which you often find yourself reloading a checkpoint to score the perfect kill. Even the menus themselves were slow and unresponsive, and so it is perhaps here where IO Interactive has the most work to do. Credit should be awarded, however, to the fact that you can choose to lock the framerate at 30fps or keep it unlocked up to 60fps; an option rarely available to console platforms.

Once you complete the story missions in each of the three settings, you can choose from hundreds of contracts created by other players around the world, or even set one up yourself. Contracts mode provides a near endless amount of variety, with options to regulate the choice of weapon, the method of execution, the time constraints, and much more. I wouldn’t go so far as saying this will provide weeks and months of entertainment, but, for a small-scale sandbox game, the sheer amount of things you can already do and accomplish in both the story mode and contracts mode is extremely impressive.


This first addition to the new saga of Hitman is an impressive start for the game going forward, and it’s a testament to IO Interactive’s talent that the episodic format is now less of a worry for me. It is still uncertain just how the final game will look by the time all of Hitman’s installments release, but if this initial release is anything to go by, Hitman might very well be worth your attention.


A copy of this game was provided to App Trigger for the purpose of this review.

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