Though Hitman’s first season is beginning to draw to a close, IO Interactive has just released the game’s best episode yet.
Developers: IO Interactive
Publisher: Square Enix
Platform: PlayStation 4 (Version reviewed), Xbox One, PC
Release Date: September 27th, 2016
We’re now five episodes into Hitman, and the last few outings haven’t exactly left us confident with IO Interactive’s new direction for the series. Thankfully, Episode 5 – “Colorado“ – marks a return to the excellence that we first enjoyed in the initial two episodes of the game earlier this year.
That excellence is largely achieved by the fact that there is just so much to do in this excursion to Colorado. Whereas most levels have featured one or two main story objectives, Episode 5 throws several at you all at once. Agent 47 has four targets marked for death, but the player is given the freedom to take each one out in whatever order and fashion they please.
The magnitude of this assignment thus encourages players to really take their time in exploring the map, learning of assassination opportunities and keeping a low profile as they inevitably rack up the body count. While previous episodes relied on the replay value of the environments as justification for the limited set of objectives, a single playthrough of the main mission in Colorado can last for an impressive two hours without losing steam.
Luckily, the quality of the content also matches the quantity. Considering this abandoned farmhouse is now a military complex, the usual crowds of innocent citizens have now been replaced with patrols of dozens of soldiers, meaning almost every NPC is fully armed and dangerous. This ramps up the difficulty of the task significantly, as Agent 47 is completely outgunned, and therefore forced to avoid confrontation in any capacity.
The focus on patience and positioning, which has always been present in Hitman, takes on a new level of importance in Episode 5, and the satisfaction of each kill is all the more gratifying as a result. Each of the four targets represents a whole range of creative opportunities for their elimination, and Episode 5 let me carry out some of the most memorable and devious executions I’ve yet to experience in the game so far.
Colorado also excels as a mission which actually makes an effort to develop Hitman’s barebones story, which has previously only been told in the form of short cutscenes played out at the end of each episode. Agent 47 makes new revelations through the completion of his task in Colorado, and the mission ends with an interesting cliff-hanger that even led me to begin genuinely caring about how events might move forward in Hitman’s final episode later this year. It’s still not the most engaging story for this iconic character, but at least IO Interactive has left the narrative in a strong place for a potentially memorable climax.
On a closing note, what a relief it is for an episode to at last feature accents that don’t sound gratingly incongruous to the setting itself. Granted, that’s because the American voice-work finally feels at home in the heart of rural Colorado, but the consistency is appreciated all the same. That said, there are a few British NPCs walking about, and some of their *catchphrases* (“wanking hell!”) aren’t so much clichés as they are farcical parodies of the stereotypes they supposedly represent.
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.