After an extended summer vacation, Agent 47 finally accepts another contract in his globetrotting assassination tour.
Developers: IO Interactive
Publisher: Square Enix
Platform: PlayStation 4 (Version reviewed), Xbox One, PC
Release Date: August 16th, 2016
It’s been a while since we’ve received a brand new locale for Hitman and, while the bonus contracts and elusive targets are an impressive reflection of IO Interactive’s commitment to the players who paid full price upfront, it’s nice to see Agent 47 returning in full effect once again. This time around, the barcode brandished bounty hunter finds himself in Bangkok, Thailand, tasked with taking out the lead singer of a band and his slimy family lawyer.
Compared to the wide, open spaces of Episode 3’s Morocco, the Himmapan Resort Hotel in Thailand is a more compact environment, but the many floors of the main building bring a more vertically oriented flavor to the proceedings, reminiscent of the Paris mission from earlier this year.
There’s perhaps a little less environmental diversity compared to previous episodes, but the hotel certainly holds a few interesting scenarios and peculiar secrets to be discovered. The resort is situated on Thailand’s Chao Phraya River, allowing for a sunset-soaked backdrop which helps give a sense of place to this paradise for the wealthy.
It’s at once bizarre, cringe-worthy, and immersion breaking all at the same time.
After witnessing Moroccan nationals talking about local politics with a thick US drawl, I honestly didn’t think IO Interactive’s apparent disregard for cultural authenticity could get any more dubious, but somehow the levels of misrepresentation have been topped with the studio’s presentation of Thailand. In Agent 47’s world, the people of Bangkok apparently wield the accent of a bespoke Brit from the south of England. It’s at once bizarre, cringe-worthy, and immersion breaking all at the same time. It’s fast becoming one of Hitman’s signature problems, purely for the fact that it stands out so much.
Unfortunately, all of the problems that Hitman has previously suffered are also still present here; the slow menus and loading times seemingly brought about by the game’s insistence to stay online, the stiff shooting controls and the unfair stealth systems… we’ve talked about these issues at length before, and it remains disappointing to see that IO still hasn’t spent more time ironing out the game’s persistently problematic bumps.
That said, the studio are still having fun with the creativity of Agent 47’s kills, and there are plenty of opportunities to make quick (or torturously slow) work of the two targets, both characterized as equally repulsive human beings.
Hitman is at its best when a player’s agency takes the fore, and Episode 4 is still able to, largely, deliver on that promise. During one set-up, I was encouraged to poison my target’s birthday cake at the party his sound crew were secretly throwing for him. Unfortunately, I had apparently left my batch of poison in the car that day, so I instead decided to conveniently place several explosive tanks nearby and wait for his arrival, before firing at said tanks to kick off the party with a bang, complete with a gleefully gruesome display of bodies rag-dolling across the room.
It’s moments like this that make all the tiresome annoyances in getting there worth it in Hitman and proves that IO does, at least, understand what we’ve always loved about the series in the first place.
An additional highlight this time around is the final cut-scene, which plays out after you first fulfil the contract. While it still represents a meagre, tepid attempt at threading together a decent story, this particular scene begins to meaningfully contextualize Agent 47’s state of affairs in forthcoming episodes, and actually left me intrigued as to what Episode 5 will bring for the assassin and his elusive agency.
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.