Ruthlessly/ruefully executed. (Delete as appropriate) Talk about dumb ways to die: Hitman’s opening mission, which takes place during a couture fashion show in full swing, is packed to the rafters with ‘em. Like, literally – crank the right winch and you can send an elaborate lighting rig crashing onto the packed catwalk below to a chorus of screams.
That’s just one of many reasons why the mission’s title, ‘The Showstopper’, is an apt one. Tumbling loudspeakers, poisoned cocktails, balcony falls, toilet bowl drownings, electrical mishaps – there’s so many ways to knock your socialite targets off the mortal coil it’ll make the coroner’s head spin. Wait, that’s another one: a twisted neck.
It is, in other words, Hitman at its freeform, devious best. Forget Hitman: Absolution and its ill-advised attempt to turn the series into an action film. Forget ‘sexy’ nuns, forget snapping a man’s neck in front of thousands in a wrestling ring, heck, forget your own name if you have to. This is the true sequel to Hitman: Blood Money that we’ve waited a decade for.
“Whoa, back up the truck there a second, Alex,” you might say. “Isn’t it a bit early to be dropping pipebombs like that? After all, this latest entry is drip-fed episodically over the next six months. So far you’ve only played the contents of the intro pack – which consists of two training missions and the aforementioned ‘Showstopper’ – and the first of its five DLC chunks, set in Sapienza, a sun-drenched Italian coastal town. How could you know?”
Well, thank you, Dr Exposition. Two things: 1) How do you know so much about me, get away from my bins, and 2) True. But then, what is being a silent assassin about, if not having the confidence to run with a hunch?
Killer instinct Sure, there’s the possibility that one or more of the four remaining missions will be a stinker. But I’ve seen nothing so far to set my suspicion cones a-rising – in fact, everything points to this being the entry where this unique series, forever hamstrung by its own ambition, finally brings its potential together and executes the perfect hit.
Take the AI, which has long been a sticking point, as an example. Even in celebrated entries such as Silent Assassin, it was impossible to predict completely how passersby would react. Often guards would open fire on you just for breaking into a jog. Here, you can set your watch by the NPC behaviour, which is useful, as perfect hits depend on everything running like clockwork.
Enemies that will see through your disguise are marked with a white dot above their bonce. It’s an elegant solution that’s used logically – if you’re disguised as a workman, say, close colleagues will notice something’s up, but contractors on the other side of the map will be oblivious. Since everyone behaves in a predictable manner, you soon learn how to manipulate them to your benefit – leaving a pistol lying on the floor will cause a member of the public to scurry off to the nearest