Hitman: Episode 3 Review – Mission Abort

Square Enix
Square Enix /

Morocco is on the brink of collapse, but is this episode of Hitman worth the intervention?

Developers: IO Interactive

Publisher: Square Enix

Platform: PlayStation 4 (Version reviewed), Xbox One, PC

Release Date: May 31st, 2016

Hitman: Episode 3 – Marrakesh transports Agent 47 to the humid, bustling streets of urban Morocco, tasked with the neutralization of two high-profile targets. After the highlight of last month’s episode, I was hoping for IO Interactive to maintain their momentum with another location that I couldn’t wait to explore. Unfortunately, I was ready to leave Morocco as soon as I had fulfilled my contract.

While Sapienza had a grandiose sense of cinematic levity to it, Marrakesh instead offers a politically charged experience, set in an environment that delivers scale through its heavy ambience rather than any breathtaking vistas. IO Interactive have crammed an impressively high number of NPCs into the densely packed streets and, particularly amid the scene of protesters outside the Swiss embassy, the sense of a “brewing political teacup” – as your handler describes it – is admittedly salient.

Square Enix /

to hear a local talking like a Yankee in the heart of North Africa just comes across as lazy and tasteless.

I overheard bystanders talking extensively about the pros and cons of the modern concept of democracy, and the mission briefing provides a detailed and plausible context for the civil unrest in which you find yourself.

In one level, Hitman manages to portray the atmosphere of an uprising more effectively than Homefront: The Revolution ever did. Unfortunately, the citizens still speak with an American accent. If this was harmlessly humorous in earlier episodes set in Europe, to hear a local talking like a Yankee in the heart of North Africa just comes across as lazy and tasteless.

This is also the first episode in Hitman where I really felt as though the game’s mechanical problems became an active and unfair obstacle to my playstyle.  The over-reactive NPCs can become immediately suspicious should you so much as bump into them for a second. The game’s systematic disapproval of any form of open combat (even to try and quickly diffuse the tension by taking out witnesses), creates an experience that – despite the emphasis on open-ended approaches – forces the player into a select number of clearly defined approaches, should they wish to achieve a decent score.

Square Enix /

If you so much as cause the slightest amount of suspicion, chances are you’ll be hunted and dead within the next couple of minutes. This is a stealth game, but Agent 47 is meant to be an adept tactician who can react effectively to ever-changing circumstances. It certainly doesn’t feel that way, however, as you hopelessly try to take down an enemy via the stilted third-person gunplay before being immediately overwhelmed, with no chance of an improvised escape.

The menus are also still unresponsive and the loading times unacceptably slow, which again works against the enjoyment of the episode as you repeatedly reload saves, since this is the only viable means of losing your notoriety. There are some characteristically creative kill opportunities, but the needlessly arduous task in getting there – wrought by the game’s technical and mechanical problems – undermines the sense of satisfaction found in pulling them off, since, by that point, you wonder whether it was worth all the effort.

Square Enix /

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Finally, the always-online DRM feature has continually been a notable issue, but this time, I was completely logged out of my game for a good 30 minutes as a result of server issues. Let me repeat that; I wasn’t able to play a single-player game because the game’s servers were offline. This is as frustrating as it is unnecessary, and significantly impacted the quality of my time with Marrakesh, unlike previous episodes.

6. As IO Interactive’s ambition continues to escalate in terms of level design and mission structure, <em>Hitman</em>’s persistent issues simultaneously become more of a problem, as they actively impede the ebb and flow of the experience. <em>Hitman </em>should reward patience and quick thinking. Instead, Episode 3 wholly reveals the game’s tendency to act as an obstacle to player intuition.  Oh yeah, and the story is still completely non-existent if you even care about it at this point.. IO Interactive. . Hitman: Episode 3

A copy of this game was provided to App Trigger for the purpose of this review. All scores are ranked out of 10, with .5 increments. Click here to learn more about our Review Policy.