Review – Hitman 1, 2 & 3 (2016 -2021)
Developer: IO Interactive
Publisher: Square Enix
Director: Christian Elverdam
Release Date: March 2016 – January 2021
Going back to replay the rebooted Hitman trilogy for review was an interesting experience. Back when the first Hitman game in the rebooted series came out, it was released episodically over the course of eight months. I was never onboard with this stunted release schedule and instead ended up buying the entire season digitally and played through all 6 levels consecutively.
Square Enix did learn their lesson though and thankfully released Hitman 2 & 3 as full games. The good thing about buying this series digitally, (now that Hitman 2 and 3 have been released,) is that you can now access all of the levels from the three games through one single application. This is just a small thing, but it does come in useful when you just want to play a single level from the second game and you don’t have to close Hitman 3 to open up Hitman 2 for the sake of one level.
You can look at this rebooted series in two different ways. If you accept it as an adaption of the Hitman games that preceded it, – presented in a new format for a new audience, – then it’s great and it totally achieves what it set out to do. If you were hoping for something more like the PS2 era games in the series then you will most likely be disappointed. Whether you love or loathe the way that the rebooted Hitman series is presented, it is certainly different to anything that we seen from the franchise before this point.
At this point, after playing through the reboot series over the last few years, I have learned to accept it for what it is and have came to the conclusion that it’s not the Hitman I remember from my teenage days and that’s okay. It is a different take on the series’ traditional underlying themes and mechanics, updated for a modern audience and even as a die hard, old school fan of the franchise, I can appreciate that.
My favourite thing about these games is that it allows you the player, to decide on the level of respect the game treats you with. What I mean by that is, if you have never touched a Hitman game, or even a stealth game before, this is a fantastic starting point. If you are looking for a my-first-premeditated-murder-simulator experience, this is the best recommendation I can think of.
Just buy the entire season, boot up the game, play through each stage in order and on normal difficulty and follow the step by step prompts to take down each target. If you play this way, the game ends up functioning as a Wiki-how for any of the other games in the series and can even be used to train you to be better at stealth games in general. However, if you consider yourself a more of a hardcore, matter-of-fact assassin and want the most immersive and unencumbered version of the experience, you can totally have that also.
I know that it isn’t a popular opinion, but I enjoyed my time with Absolution, (the final entry in the franchise previous to this one,) however I agree with the overall belief that that game didn’t know what it wanted to be. This latest Hitman series knows exactly what it wants to be and executes what it sets out to do beautifully. Even if you aren’t a fan of the way that the rebooted games play out, it is irrefutable to say that they do confidently accomplish their intention.
Upon replaying the first two Hitman games for review, I appreciated how well the technical elements of them held up. The gameplay is precise but fun, the gameplay graphics are pretty nice to look at and the cut-scene graphics are still almost photorealistic. The level design functions well to compliment the tasks that you are assigned meaning, the use of lighting and strategic placement of weapons and items etc doesn’t seem too out of place.
I did experience some cosmetic glitches and clipping while replaying Hitman for review, but never anything game-breaking. The only technical issue that severely hindered my experience was the online connectivity, or lack thereof. I can recall multiple times where I was in the middle of choosing my custom loadout before endeavouring on my next mission, only to be kicked out of the menu halfway through and told that connectivity to the server had been lost.
This grew tedious after around the tenth time it happened and more than once caused me to put the controller down and stop playing for the night as multiple attempts to re-establish a connection were in vain. It is also pretty inexcusable when the series is 5 years old at this point.
Lastly, the plot elements in these games are unfortunately pretty unremarkable. The plot is nothing more than a heartless, tacked on excuse for you to move from one setting to the next, but it functions as a justification for 47 to travel to the various locations where the respective missions take place.
The only other negative that I came away with after replaying the Hitman games for review is the feel of the games. This criticism is hard to put into words, but across all 20 missions of the three games; the process going in and out of each location as smoothly as possible, coupled with the focus on gameplay mechanics and the lack of cohesiveness to the story makes for a disjointed experience that I don’t think will stay with me over a significant amount of time other than thinking back and saying, “that stealth game had some really well implemented mechanics.”
I think that this is the main reason that I will ever feel any real nostalgia for this series, nor will it ever stand out in my mind for anything other than its technical elements. Although the locations are vast and the opportunities the player can take advantage of are numerous, the series still feels brief and somewhat unfinished once you complete it.
Even after playing through the third entry and seeing the story come to somewhat of a climax, you still really get the feeling of this being part of an ongoing series, rather than a solid series standalone games. The lack of any definitive beginning, middle and end sections to each of games makes them feel rather unsatisfying once you reach the climax and causes the games overall to feel more like a mesh of various missions clumsily thrown together, rather than progressive chapters in 47’s career.
I know that 47 is supposed to be a cold, calculated, heartless killer, but that doesn’t mean that the games he stars in have to be totally devoid of heart as well.
Overall, these are solid stealth games and there is a lot of fun to be had here. Just know going in, if you are a long time Hitman fan, some things are going to be different. That doesn’t mean they will necessarily be bad, but you will certainly see a new spin being put on the tried and tested mechanics of past game in the franchise. If this is your first stealth game, then I would say that there is no better introduction into the genre, especially if you use the Opportunities menu. Unfortunately though, it does seem more like a variation of well made parts, rather than a solid, cohesive whole.
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