Agent 47 dons his suit (and a variety of disguises) for the first time in six years to bring us the latest installment of Hitman – and it’s better than ever.
While it may seem we’re spoiled for sneakers this year, each one offers a distinct experience. Hitman’s style is urban, urbane, slick and stylish.
While the game itself isn’t out yet, I have been able to play a pre-release demo.
All the familiar tricks are there: improvised weapons, disguises, distractions and the need to conceal any bodies Agent 47 leaves in his wake.
There are some new twists to the game as well: 47 gets a kind of radar vision through use of a new ‘instinct’ pool, which can also serve to predict what guards and other NPCs can do, and improve the quality of a disguise. Using instinct drains it; it’s replenished by achieving objectives and by appropriate kills or sneaking.
There’s also a point-fire system similar to Red Dead Redemption’s dead-eye mode: select targets and place shots while the scene pauses, then unleash a hail of rapid, deadly shots.
What carries over from the earlier games is the need to limit the damage you do, and clean up after your kills to hide your presence from remaining guards. That adds a layer of authenticity to the experience (even if there do seem to be rather too many convenient places to stuff bodies).
Graphics are gorgeous and the play is very smooth. There are many ways to complete missions, and game points (which can buy new abilities) are deducted for unnecessary kills, especially civilian kills, or failing to take care of evidence.
The storyline looks promising as well: 47’s first hit is his old handler, Diana, who the Agency claim has gone rogue. It’s clear 47 has his doubts, and the stage is set for the hunter to become the hunted.
The plot hinges around a girl called Victoria, who Diane is protecting. Agent 47 must kill Diane and return Victoria to the Agency.
The new instinct pool helps open up the game to beginners and vets alike. It promotes (and rewards) creative play, so while missions are scripted quite tightly, you’ll often find an unorthodox solution.
Hitman isn’t the first sneaker, but it is one of the best, and its modern-day setting is likely to appeal to those who dislike steampunk or historical action.
Developer: IO Interactive
Publisher: Square Enix
Genre: Third-person sneaker
Platforms: PS3, Xbox 360, PC, Cloud
Version tested: Xbox 360 pre-release
Expected release date: November 20
Age Rating: 18
Star Rating: 4.5/5 (based on pre-release demo)