When Hitman: Absolution launched five years ago, it was as if the voices of millions of Hitman fans suddenly cried out in terror. The game was a massive misstep for the franchise, trying to follow a tightly-scripted plot and taking on a much more action-oriented slant than every other previous Hitman title. The essence of what made the games from iO Interactive so popular had been lost completely, and no-one was happy about it.
With Hitman: The Complete First Season however, the ship has been steadied and steered firmly in the right direction once again. Eschewing a deep story (although there is an over-arching thread to follow between each mission), this new episodic approach has focused steadfastly on presenting players with a set of six well-designed playgrounds in which to carry out your assassinations any way you want to.
Choice is the order of the day, as whilst the half-dozen worldwide destinations each have their own story-based target to “take care of”, there are so many different options in how you plan and carry out your kills. You can be as creative as you like, and players can choose to be a true silent assassin, or go in all guns blazing - the title really caters to whatever taste you please. Each episode is open-ended, and experimentation and exploration is both encouraged and rewarded.
The developers have smartly made Hitman incredibly accessible to both longtime fans and complete newbies to the series. For newcomers, helpful trackable opportunities can be discovered, which give hints on how to take out your targets, whereas the seasoned killers out there can ignore these entirely and even play through the extreme difficulty level, with heightened artificial intelligence and other factors making life harder for you. On top of this, there is a plethora of extra challenges, bonus contracts and customisable game modes to play through.
The most interesting new addition to Hitman: The Complete First Season is the Elusive Targets. These are usually specific, realtime 48-hour contracts, where you have only one attempt to kill your mark. And mistakes or deaths, and that hit can never be attempted again. To make things even more challenging, savageness are disabled and the radar-like Hitman vision is also disabled. You really have to use all of your assassin skills in these time-sensitive missions. These are a lot more tense and challenging, but also more rewarding to complete.
Each open-world location is simply a joy to explore, and to plan your kills in. Hitman: The Complete First Season not only plays much better than any other Hitman game that came before, but it is better looking, sounds great and rights all of the wrongs that Absolution was guilty of.
Final Verdict: Agent 47 really manages to hit the mark in this latest outing.
Hitman: The Complete First Season at CeX
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