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I love the Hitman games. My favorite, like many, is Blood Money. It had large sandbox levels to explore and play in. Finding out all the different ways you could kill your target in these open ended missions was a ton of fun. Hitman Absolution, the follow up to Blood Money, ditched most of those levels and focused on story, but it was disappointing. Absolution however modernized the series and made it feel better to play despite missing what so many loved about previous games. So my hope for the newest Hitman game, simply called Hitman (clever), was that it would combine the smooth gameplay and modern feel of Absolution with the open levels of Blood Money.
And that’s exactly what the new Hitman does.
I played a few hours of the Hitman beta and I’m convinced this game could be better than Blood Money. That’s a bold claim, I know. But this new Hitman game is really really really good y’all.
The first thing I noticed when I started the beta was the impressive visuals and performance. This is a beta, so it wasn’t perfect. But playing on PS4 the game looks incredible. And it seems to have an unlocked framerate, which is nice. It means in many areas of the beta I was getting 50-60 fps. Though when crowds were big it would slow to around 30. This along with how good the game looks makes this easily the best looking Hitman by far.
I can’t wait to see what it looks like on a beefy PC.
Agent 47 sounds like you remember him, but he has more human face. A younger face, which makes sense. The beta is set 20 years before the Hitman we know. He is a younger man and it shows. He seems leaner and more deadly than ever. The animations for Agent 47 are fantastic. Walking into people will cause Agent 47 to step to the side or turn his shoulders. The way he walks, he looks like a deadly predator. His fists are clenched and moving at a brisk pace. This is a faster and more lethal Agent 47 as his animations confirm this.
The environments in the beta are interesting and different than anything I remember from a Hitman game. They are giant training courses. Each of the two levels is based on a previous contract and has tons of actors walking around, pretending to be party goers or rich master thieves. The levels are made of plywood, tape, crates, etc. These were made rather quickly and cheaply. What’s amazing to me is that even with this simpler and more stripped down design, the levels still work. I quickly forgot I was on a fake wooden yacht sitting in the middle of a giant warehouse. The essentials were there and as I focused on taking out my target my brain just sort of filled in the gaps. Though I did notice that I was in a warehouse when I tossed a dude off the boat and he landed on blue concrete two feet below.
The actual gameplay of the Hitman series has been mixed to terrible in many ways. I love the games, but the controls have always felt sticky or unresponsive. Absolution felt much better than any of the older games, but lacked what I wanted.
This new Hitman is faster and easier to control. You still have all the options you had before, dressing up as enemies, dragging bodies, throwing objects, shooting and more. But now you can do these things quicker and with less fumbling. Agent 47 seems to respond better and moving around the levels felt less clumsy than in older games.
Many of the mechanics that Absolution introduced return. Cover works like it did in the last game. The instinct mode is back and optional like before as some enemies will be able to see through your disguise. But many of the returning mechanics have been improved or changed.
For example, one of the most frustrating parts of Absolution was fact that if you dressed up as an enemy, you could get spotted by that type of enemy. So if you killed a cop and dressed up as him, every cop in the level would be able to tell you were not a real cop. It was annoying and didn’t make a lot of sense. Hitman changes this and now if an enemy can spot you or see through your disguise they have a white dot above their head. What’s nice is that not all enemies can. So sure, maybe this cop who has been around for a long time will spot you, but maybe other officers are less observant or this is their first day and they won’t notice you. I also liked that the white dots are contextual, so if you pull out a gun dressed as a mechanic you will see white dots pop up over people’s heads. Mechanics, as it turns out, should not be armed.
I also enjoyed the addition of more information about alternate ways to kill. These opportunities can be discovered by overhearing conversations or reading certain documents. You can then hit a button and the game will tell you what to do to and where if you want to, for instance, kill someone with an ejection seat of a jet. It’s a nice way to expose players to the more silly and creative ways to kill, while keeping it optional for those who don’t want any help.
Overall the gameplay and controls just feel a lot more responsive and fun. Doing things like hiding bodies or switching weapons doesn’t feel like a chore. Instead if feels fast and easy. Which let me focus more on killing people. That is a weird sentence to write, but here we are.
The Hitman games have always had a narrative. None of it felt necessary, to me at least, but it was usually fairly unobtrusive. Absolution leaned into story more than any game before and it felt too linear because of that. So this new Hitman game seems to be trying to tell a story without hurting the gameplay. And I think it does a good job, at least from what I’ve played so far.
The full game might be different, but the beta tells its story during loading screens and through conversations with your handler. These moments aren’t long and aren’t bogged down by tons of lore or callbacks. Instead this game feels like a reboot. Bringing Agent 47 back to his roots. Back to the good old days where you were just a hired killer who also happened to be a clone.
There are a few bits of dialogue that I enjoyed that seem to be referencing some of the lore from the past games, but these bits were not very common. And that’s how it should be.
The story in the older games started getting more out of hand and by Blood Money I felt it had gotten too complex and prominent. I’ve never cared about Agent 47 as a character. He is a bald-headed-machine who I use to explore these twisted, murder filled worlds. I don’t really care about him or what he was or anything like that. And the beta sort of hints that he is more than just a killer, but only hints. He’s not saving a little girl, like in Absolution or making someone dig their own grave.
Agent 47 and the narrative in this new game seem to be focused on one thing: Giving you reasons to go to places to kill people. That’s what I want from Hitman.
Agent 47 is Back
This new Hitman isn’t just a return to the old days of the series. It instead is a hybrid, taking the parts that worked from the older games and fusing them with the parts that worked from Absolution. The result is a fantastic experience. This is just a beta and things can change, and probably will. But if the new Hitman game is even half as good as this beta, I’ll be happily killing people for days.
I feel like after writing this I’m on an FBI watch list.