Hitman: The Complete First Season (PlayStation 4) Review

By Gareth F 27.04.2017 2

Review for Hitman: The Complete First Season on PlayStation 4

Hatched from the spliced DNA of five of the world's most dangerous criminals, Agent 47 is a genetically engineered assassin who has been plying his deadly trade in a variety of titles since the year 2000 and has even crossed over to the silver screen in a moderately successful Hollywood blockbuster or two. Those familiar with 47 will know that this bald-headed killing machine is cold, calculating, devoid of any emotion or humility, and lethally efficient when it comes to meeting his mission objectives. For his most recent batch of assignments, his handlers at IO Interactive (overseen by the shadowy Square Enix organisation) implemented an episodic delivery format that didn't always sit well within certain sectors of the killers for hire fraternity. However, in a somewhat inevitable move seemingly designed to placate the Netflix generation, the first season's worth of content has been collated and packaged in an easily digestible, and rather sexy looking, steel-book, complete with a ton of extra content to sweeten the deal.

Kicking off the proceedings with a prologue set 20 years in the distant past, Agent 47 alights a helicopter at a mysterious mountaintop base belonging to the International Contracts Agency (ICA) to liaise with (potential) future handler Diane Burnwood who seems eager to recruit him to the organisation. Faced with a series of aptitude tests that cleverly double up as a tutorial to the game's mechanics, Mr. 47 unsurprisingly aces each task with flying colours, impressing Burnwood in the process but raising warning flags with her wary colleague, Erich Soders, who seems to have drawn a total blank while performing the deadly desert head's background checks. The apprehensive Soders seems reluctant to employ 47 believing that his suspiciously calm exterior is masking a dangerous psychotic chap that might prove to be too effective in the field, which, given the line of work these people are in, seems more like a positive than a negative. The results, however, speak for themselves and, after passing the final test, Soders has little choice but to welcome 47 into the fold with the caveat that, as his handler, Burnwood will be held accountable for his actions… and so begins the start of a murderous relationship.

Screenshot for Hitman: The Complete First Season on PlayStation 4

Kicking off the proceedings with a prologue set 20 years in the distant past, Agent 47 alights a helicopter at a mysterious mountaintop base belonging to the International Contracts Agency (ICA) to liaise with (potential) future handler Diane Burnwood who seems eager to recruit him to the organisation. Faced with a series of aptitude tests that cleverly double up as a tutorial to the game's mechanics, Mr. 47 unsurprisingly aces each task with flying colours, impressing Burnwood in the process but raising warning flags with her wary colleague, Erich Soders, who seems to have drawn a total blank while performing the deadly desert head's background checks. The apprehensive Soders seems reluctant to employ 47 believing that his suspiciously calm exterior is masking a dangerous psychotic chap that might prove to be too effective in the field, which, given the line of work these people are in, seems more like a positive than a negative. The results, however, speak for themselves and, after passing the final test, Soders has little choice but to welcome 47 into the fold with the caveat that, as his handler, Burnwood will be held accountable for his actions… and so begins the start of a murderous relationship.

Screenshot for Hitman: The Complete First Season on PlayStation 4

Taking down these high value targets isn't as easy as it might sound, as they are usually accompanied by a pair of heavily armed bodyguards and rarely stay in the same location for any length of time, which ensures that there are always plenty of NPC witnesses to thwart any attempts. Agent 47 does have his 'Instinct' available at the touch of a button, which reveals the outlines of nearby guards through the walls in his immediate vicinity, as well as the current location of his quarry, who is thoughtfully highlighted in red (this advantageous ability can be disabled altogether for those wanting to increase the challenge). Donning a disguise to gain access to restricted areas is pretty much the only way to break through this solid line of defence, so it usually ends up being a case of singling out a suitable candidate/minion, knocking them unconscious, taking their clothes, and then hiding their comatose bodies in a place where they can't be discovered. Nothing quite gives the game away like another member of staff accidently stumbling across a seemingly lifeless colleague stripped down to their underpants, so it's a good job there are so many dumpsters and cupboards littered around each level to stash these unfortunate bystanders and mask 47's activity. No disguise is infallible, though, as there will always be a few over attentive members of staff that can spot an imposter in their midst, so to evade detection it makes sense to frequently switch disguise, actively avoid the (thankfully highlighted) suspicious killjoys or, failing that, engineer a diversion to distract the over observant obstruction(s) so they can be snuck past without raising the alarm.

A gung-ho approach is both reckless and futile given that there are eyes and ears (and occasionally CCTV cameras) everywhere and nobody, not even Agent 47, will fare well against a pack of heavily armed security with their weapons already primed for usage. With that said, 47 does have the old classic 'fake surrender, then punch them in the chops when they least suspect it' routine at his disposal, which yields varying degrees of success, dependant on the number of witnesses/security nearby. Thankfully, IO Interactive has been thoughtful enough to include counter measures for those instantly regrettable impulsive moments that can potentially set back play progress with the provision of a generous number of checkpoints, both user-defined and automatic. It makes good sense to get into the habit of saving regularly, especially prior to making a risky attempt at the objective, as it helps to avoid having to repeat any lengthy setups again. It's all about the stealth and remaining unnoticed for as long as possible, while simultaneously trying to work out the best approach to tackle the task at hand.

Screenshot for Hitman: The Complete First Season on PlayStation 4

It's hard to deny the sense of satisfaction gained from successfully executing a witness-free elimination, but it's a short lived one as the victim still needs to be hidden out of sight to ensure a safe exit/passage to the next objective. While a classic gun, knife, or strangulation will always yield the desired results, they feel like an incredibly beige and pedestrian way of getting the job done given that there is a whole sandbox worth of objects scattered about for our follicly-deprived death-bringer to misappropriate and utilise. If the objective's demise can be made to look like the result of an accident, then that's perfect. If it can be engineered so it appears that this accident has been caused by another NPC in front of many other witnesses, well, that's even better! IO has included a very extensive 'checklist' of deaths for each level, but this is a mere jumping off point given that there are so many more to uncover for those willing to do the groundwork. Locate some rat poison, disguise 47 as a chef, cook up a tainted meal for the victim, and then drown them in the toilet bowl while they barf their guts up. What kind of an idiot leaves a four-way plug extension next to a puddle? Don't they know electricity and water don't mix? Hmm, such opulent tastes… it would be a real shame if one of those heavy chandeliers somehow got loose and dropped from the ceiling. Opportunity knocks and, given a nudge in the right direction, frequently kills.

It's fair to say that early adopters probably had a slightly disjointed Hitman experience as the unavoidable countdown to the next instalment is exactly the kind of momentum sapper that makes waiting for a complete season bundle a far more attractive proposition. The option of treating each episode as a separate, self-contained sandbox is still there for those wanting that quick-kill fix, but it makes the most sense to play through the whole game as a campaign for the first run, as there's a fairly intriguing thread conveyed via a series of cinematic sequences to propel the story forward. However, there are a number of additional modes that make this the perfect title to frequently return to. Escalation Contracts come in a set of five objectives that start easy and get progressively tougher by adding one additional specified criteria that needs to be met with each stage; for example, 'kill x disguised as a soldier using a silenced pistol.' Contracts also return from Hitman: Absolution, allowing anybody to easily set up a custom challenge that can be shared online, supported with competitive leaderboards/stat tracking and further Live Challenges can be also be added by IO to provide dynamic community goals. The Elusive Target challenges prove to be the toughest of the bunch, as they only ever appear once for a short period of time before disappearing forever and there is only allow one attempt allowed with all saves and checkpoints disabled. Also included in the package are a few exclusive bonus missions, a 'Making of' documentary, and a downloadable copy of the soundtrack. In fact, the only thing that's missing is a barcode sticker to slap on the back of your head while you take care of business…

Screenshot for Hitman: The Complete First Season on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

Travel the world, visit exotic distant lands, meet exciting and unusual people…and kill them. The Hitman: Season One edition has definitely been worth the wait for any hesitant stealth fans that were unwilling to buy into Square Enix's original episodic vision. Bolstered with enough additional content to keep even the most dedicated contract killer occupied for the foreseeable future, it boasts enough variables to enjoy an almost infinite replay value. Figuring out fresh and inventive new ways of delivering death to a bunch of evil wrongdoers never gets old (which ironically also applies to anybody unfortunate enough to find their name on Agent 47's to do list).

Developer

IO Interactive

Publisher

Square Enix

Genre

Action

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

The perfect example of how the idea of being episodic can be troublesome, watering down the experience somewhat. Good to hear that the full package is so enjoyable when lumped together!

Had to chuckle at the underpants comment... Smilie

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

UNITE714: Weekly Prayers | Bible Verses

Love the review! And as an avid fan of the Hitman series, glad to see that waiting it out for the entire season to be available as a package was well worth the wait. Cannot wait to reprise my role of Agent 47.

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