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Hitman Episode 4 is out and it is beautiful. Taking place in Bangkok, Thailand, this new setting greets players with an incredible view. As you approach the Thailand hotel, the richness of the surrounding vistas feels distinctly rich and unique. The setting sunlight dances across the golden temples and skims over the water.
This time the target is a rock star, lead singer of popular fictional band The Class; Jordan Cross. Jordan Cross feels more fleshed out than previous targets in the series. He has family ties, a strong reputation, and noble character traits. Love him or hate him, almost everyone in the hotel has an opinion about the mega rock star.
The second target in Thailand is Ken Morgan, lawyer for The Class and Jordan Cross. Ken “The Brick” Morgan is not a complex character, but a ruthless one. Through his various interactions, you get the impression he is very good at what he does. It’s also clear that he has no scruples about his immorality. Ken Morgan is not heavily guarded or secluded, and there are many ways to interact with him in order to get the kill you want.
Most of this episode is taking place in the luxurious hotel owned by the Rock Star’s father. This setting is challenging, but not due to the sheer level complexity like the Sapienza and Marrakesh outings. The hotel is divided into two wings, with five floors each. There is a roof area and a set of basement corridors with rooms for the staff to work. This structure makes the hotel easy to understand and navigate while providing no shortage of rooms to explore and utilize.
In somewhat of a departure for this game, the lockpicks are not very useful in the hotel. Very few doors in the building are locked by conventional locks, and even those are easily circumvented. Most doors are locked via card readers, the cards to which can be obtained from NPCs and around the level. Another unusual challenge is the distinct lack of hiding places for bodies. Normally a Hitman level like this would have a closet or box in every room, but here they are very sparse. This makes getting away with murder much more demanding in regards to planning and execution. A change that encourages a more nuanced approach to 47’s hits.
Subversive subterfuge and silent stealth are the bread and butter of any Hitman player, but here we need to play a little dirty. Several of the level’s challenges require you to take out your targets in plain sight. This makes for an intense scramble, putting your real-time wits to the test. Murder in view of dozens of witnesses makes fading back into the crowd extremely satisfying.
WARNING: *Level gameplay spoilers ahead*
At this point I’m just going to tell you about some anecdotal fun I’ve had with this level. If you’re planning on playing this firsthand, I would recommend you skip this section.
The Hitman series is a fantastic mix of the super serious and the absurd. Contract killing is a cold and calculated profession, but the lengths 47 goes to in order to pay his bills are often unbelievably ridiculous.
Scouring the hotel reveals a number of NPC’s to interact with and/or impersonate. One such NPC is a replacement drummer for the band. This disguise gets you right into the midst of Cross’ band, after a quick audition, of course.
Jordan Cross is so impressed by 47’s prowess on the drums that he breaks off from everyone else to talk music and business on the hotel rooftop. Needless to say, things don’t end well for Jordan Cross there.
Behind the hotel, you’ll find a security station, employees catching a quick smoke and an old Tuk Tuk. This vehicle is interesting as it presents many clever possibilities. Ken Morgan is interested in purchasing it, but only once it is fixed. Naturally, 47 is also an expert mechanic, requiring only a wrench to get the job done.
Once the Tuk Tuk is fixed, it can be used as a getaway vehicle for the level. It can also be sabotaged with any number of your own bombs, or by puncturing a nearby oil drum with a screwdriver and letting chemistry take its course.
Heavy handed, but perhaps one of the most interesting things I’ve seen in this series is found behind the hotel as well. Many employees and notes around the area speak of a pest problem the hotel is desperately dealing with.
To combat this issue, exterminators are on scene carefully spraying insecticides in closed off areas of the hotel. Once obtained from the pest control truck the insecticides can be smuggled into other areas of the hotel. Dump the insecticides into the ventilation system and we have ourselves a party.
The Bangkok missions in Hitman exemplify some of the best subterfuge action the series has to offer. The level design is clean, easy to navigate and provides ample opportunities for exceptional cleverness as well as just good ol’ screwing around. If you already own the core game and enjoy it, this is probably worth the $10 of DLC.