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Hitman Episode One Review

  • First Released Mar 11, 2016
  • Reviewed Mar 10, 2016
  • PS4
Chris Damien on Google+

Hit and run

The new Hitman makes its debut as the first episode of a complete story. It's where you train as Agent 47 during his induction into the International Contract Agency to familiarize yourself with the flow of missions. It's also where you infiltrate a well-attended fashion show at a ritzy mansion, 20 years later, to assassinate targets surrounded by layers of security.

There are multiple ways to slip in and out of the episode's three "secure" locations, and many means to complete your objectives, lending a great degree of replayability for the curious and the creative. Hitman's sandboxes are intricately woven, offering an abundance of decision-making opportunities that can drastically change your approach towards a mission and the execution of objectives.

Do you infiltrate and choke your target with a wire, or drop poison into their favorite cocktail? These are two of many possible tactics that you can employ. There's nothing stopping you from opening fire in a crowd either if that's what you want. Just be sure to have a solid exit strategy when your enemies retaliate.

Incapacitating hapless NPCs and stealing their clothes to disguise yourself is a major component of Hitman's design, and each mission gives you numerous options to consider. One disguise can only get you so far, so you frequently need to change your outfit, depending on your path and strategy. Each environment is open, with very few choke-points, and you're free to mix up your methods to suit your preferred style of play. But you won't get far unless you keep changing outfits. The reliance on disguises feels stifling at times, but this is alleviated somewhat by the myriad other options that are available once you dig deeper into a location.

Each of the three maps--a party boat, a modest military aircraft hanger, and the aforementioned Parisian mansion--feature distinct, over-the-top hit opportunities that lend a unique flavor to each mission. Tampering with a fighter jet so your target falls prey to a malfunctioning ejection seat is more rewarding than, say, simply shooting them or snapping their neck. I also took great joy in masquerading as a fashion model to gain unprecedented access to another target; I infiltrated a social group and fooled hundreds of onlookers at once.

Casually blend in and eavesdrop on conversations between NPCs for valuable information.
Casually blend in and eavesdrop on conversations between NPCs for valuable information.

The fashion show is where Hitman shines, and it's an impressive display of how complex and varied one location can be. There are gardens to sneak through, a wine cellar to search for clues, a jam-packed crowd in front of a catwalk to hide your face, not to mention the expansive collection of rooms and hallways. It's almost impossible to account for the plethora of ways you can hit your marks here, and even though you may have seen it all, you probably haven't done it all. It's a multi-part mission that allows you to meander and experiment for hours on end, and a perfect illustration of how nuanced you can be in an isolated yet ornate environment.

More than objects or NPCs, it's Hitman's UI settings that hold the most power over your experience. Though you can take advantage of systems--the likes of which allow Agent 47 to see through walls--that can make your job easier, you may also choose to disable all assist options and immerse yourself in the challenge at hand. In a sea of hundreds, surrounded by potential threats, Agent 47's missions can be daunting assignments that test your ability to improvise under smothering scrutiny.

Agent 47's missions can be daunting assignments that test your ability to improvise under smothering scrutiny.

Once you complete your first run through Hitman's three missions, your job isn't finished; escalation missions appear, introducing new objectives with constraints that dictate new targets, what equipment you have to use, and even what type of disguise you have to wear during a kill. You can also create your own contracts, with full control over the aforementioned conditions and objectives. You simply need to enter a location, mark targets, take them out and successfully escape.

There's no denying that repeatedly revisiting the same locations wears on your enthusiasm, but escalation missions and contracts stave this feeling off for a while with prescribed, alternative objectives. Because Hitman is episodic at the moment, you don't have the chance to move through a campaign and distance yourself from a mission. Of course, there's a lot to do if you're looking for new opportunities, but after your first run through a mission, the initial feeling of immersion fades as you transition into full-on puzzle-solving mode.

What'll it take to get a turn on the catwalk?
What'll it take to get a turn on the catwalk?

As you poke and prod at Hitman, looking for new ways to complete missions and take advantage of your options in a given environment, you also start to notice gaps in logic that allow you to circumvent AI. Reaching from behind an enemy to grab something on a table in front of them won't necessarily get their attention; as long as you're close enough to trigger a button prompt without passing through their field of view, you're in the clear. You can also act like a total oddball, bumping into targets or crouching suspiciously near them without triggering concern. Hitman presents itself as a stealth game that can be as hardcore as you want it to be, but its AI fails to connect all the dots on a semi-regular basis. Should I be able to exit a mission after gunning down people in a packed party? You wouldn't think so, but somehow the guards manning the exit don't always get the memo when there's a madman on the loose. You can choose to ignore these moments or use them to your advantage, but you can't dismiss how they detract from Hitman's proposed tension.

Hitman feels at odds with itself on occasion, but there's no question that missions are the star of the show, not the story.

Then again, Hitman is sometimes designed to make you laugh. As you go about your business on a mission, non-threatening NPCs comment on your seemingly benign but strange behavior. They whine about their jobs when you engage with them in disguise. There's a definite contrast between Hitman's gameplay and its story, which is doled out in mysterious cutscenes that feature stone-cold antagonists. Hitman feels at odds with itself on occasion, but there's no question that missions are the star of the show, not the story.

Hitman's opening act isn't ground-breaking, with a host of tiny problems lending it a dated feel. When you drop a body into a freezer, there's no animation connecting the process together; there's a hard cut from dragging the body to hiding it. Load times are frustratingly long, lasting just under a full minute when reloading saves. This alone is especially disappointing, given how fun it can be to iterate on your methods by reloading saves and experimenting, a process that's tainted by extended downtime. However, Hitman's a veritable playground that will delight you with its open-ended design, comical NPCs, and contract creation tools. These qualities, and the flexibility to be as hardcore or laid back as you want, are much appreciated, even if they don't disguise Hitman's lesser qualities.

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The Good
Missions are flexible and open to a variety of strategies
Entertaining means of killing targets
Excellent replayability
The Bad
Inconsistent AI thwarts immersion
Missions rely too strongly on using disguises
Technical shortcomings lend a rushed quality to the experience
About GameSpot's Reviews
Other Platform Reviews for Hitman

About the Author

Peter completed each mission multiple times, played a few custom contracts that other users submitted online, and did his best to push the limits of Hitman's stealth engine over the course of 10 hours. Square Enix provided GameSpot with a complimentary copy of Hitman for this review.
252 Comments  RefreshSorted By 
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Avatar image for topgun182

Somebody wake me when the rest of the game get's here...

Avatar image for doublem-k

Buy the game when all episodes are out, and is on sale ;)

EDIT: I caved in and bought it, didnt regret it, but still not liking the release rate..

Avatar image for deactivated-5845a9a3984cb

i will NOT support this game . not because its a bad game ... no . in matter of fact i really enjoyed it and they finally started to get the gameplay right and made a decent hitman game since blood money

BUT it was just ONE level !!! ONE hitman blood money level for 15$ !!. so why the hell am i suppose to pay 65 dollars for 6 levels of a hitman game ?!! i dont care if its a good hitman game , its simply unfinished and shady marketing ...hitman is not a telltale game to have story (not mentioning a telltale game costs 20 dollar upfront )

i hope this fails more than evolve and other shady marketing's did

thanks io interactive , but no thanks

Avatar image for burnettaj

This is out now for download only but the physical version will come out in late 2016. Is my understanding correct?

Avatar image for Fragzoon

I loved this series, played since the very first one and all that when the industry was still more pure... But since there are so many games and so little time these days, I didn't follow the news very closely...

So I just realized from this review... that this game is EPISODIC??? I mean what is it exactly? like Telltale series?? Or I mean... soap opera tv series... where they justify getting paid more from advertisements from having more air time for certain stations.. and where they can get some money from unfinished or work in progress... where they can charge 1 game for the price of 5 etc...

The thing is I am surprised that I noticed a fair number of people who are also not aware about the fact that this is made to be Episodic..

Seriously there was no reasonable public indicator or announcements that this is EPISODIC. I don't expect them to be naked and publish the profit projection or anything but AT LEAST have the DECENCY to be more transparent with this crucial gameplay experience affecting information?

You know some people... especially those who can't wait buying certain things.... generally can't wait to see a conclusion of a story either....

I can see the advantage of having it in episodic business model though, for example the constant improvement based on feedback etc.... but at the end of the day you're instilling and reinforcing the industry to do this unfair practice where for example a product/art is made OVERVALUED (just because being based of current average market purchasing power) regardless of the underlying "old" technology which is going to be keep reused for future contents.

So obviously there are some disadvantage as well such as delayed innovation/creativity competition since they can/should wait for another year before having to work on a new engine version etc.

Still probably seemed like a good game hearing that it came back to its roots from the gameplay videos around the net... Fortunately I'm a patient person with lots of backlog of unfinished games... It can wait till the price is more fair for a job "half"(?) done.

edit: and oh always On DRM is a bit of a let down too.. if it is justified because of the gameplay mechanics/model/significant features then fine... but if just for statistical and e-peen numbers to compare in the net...? Unfortunately IMO not justified..

Avatar image for p1p3dream

@Fragzoon: I have just started playing the game and I have to be honest, that the menu system is so confusing for the game, that I'm not really entirely sure how to tell if I'm playing the game or just playing a sandbox level. From what I recall, there is nothing that really even eludes to the game being "episodic" in the menu system or the way it's starts.

The actual game itself looks amazing, very beautiful, and much attention to detail. But I can't say I really like how the game interface is designed. The menu's are just a bit over the top and kind of over designed. They LOOK cool, but I think it would be nice if everything was a bit more straightforward. This is just my two cents on this... Maybe I'm just old....

Avatar image for sproutsumner

Great review. This has made me reconsider buying this, I was put off by the Episodic release. I don't want that to become a trend in my favourite hobby.

But "Semi-regular?"

It's regular or irregular. It conforms to the norm or it doesn't. 'Do you mean Frequently? Infrequently? Occasionally? Inconsistently? Many times? A lot of the time? Most of the time?

Regularly already means "Most of the time but not necessarily all of the time." Why did you need "semi?"

My other hobby is nit-picking one word out of the thousands other people write and not paying attention to the tardiness of my own writing.

Avatar image for choramora420

For me, biggest regret would be to not get to play ps4 exclusive missions in PC. Bad move Sony and SE.

Avatar image for ismejacks

Good thing is you can beat any mission without a single disguise.

Avatar image for p1p3dream

I didn't even realize this was an episodic game. :(

Avatar image for ismejacks

@p1p3dream: ya they should put Hitman ep1..... i mean they can't assume everyone following their press all the time, many players don't even watch gaming news, they just buy it when their favorite title released.

Avatar image for p1p3dream

@ismejacks: I admit I hadn't been following the press on this game super close, I just had always plan to get the game as I'm a fan of the series... I have to say even playing the game it's not super obvious that you are only playing episode one of something.

Avatar image for ExoticCharm

Interest in this game went downhill for me when they announced the whole episode thing. Hitman is not a series that should have it.

Avatar image for TruSake

Is the AI truly that stupid? It seems very easy to complete missions.

Avatar image for p1p3dream

@TruSake: I find the game to be actually quite difficult.

Avatar image for wanderingknight

@TruSake: Play it with all the help turned off.

Avatar image for jfabs

I'm loving this game. I haven't played a Hitman game since Blood Money and loved the original back in the day. This has brought back that magic for me. With the episodic release, I'm finding that I'm diving in to the one main map and trying my hand at all the different challenges, and it's a ton of fun. With previous releases, I would only replay certain maps and forgot about others altogether. I feel that with the episodic release, it will force the developers to create some unique, deep and fun maps to play in to keep you busy for the month while you wait for the next. I like that idea personally.
I played for three hours last night trying to pull off the hit with only my suit, no disguises and kept running into trouble. But I learned the map, found all sorts of great secrets and discovered some unique things in the world to aid me in my attempt. I then came back at it in the morning and came up with a new strategy and finished the mission flawlessly.

This game has an awesome cycle of discovery, trial and error and then mastery. And I love it. I'll be purchasing the rest of the season.

Avatar image for i-rock-socks

If only I cared what gamespot thought. glad I don't cause I'm enjoying the hell out of this game. If the idiots that are so butthurt over the episodic release bought it, I'm sure they'd love it too.

Avatar image for skyhighgam3r

Ok a couple things...

First of all, this reviewer clearly is new to the series. You are not required, at any point, to use a disguise, it's entirely optional. In fact it's one of the awesome challenges of the series to never get out of your suit.

Secondly... "Load times are frustratingly long, lasting just under a full minute when reloading saves"
Are you ****ing kidding me? "Just under a minute" is frustratingly long? get the **** out of here with that nonsense. Good lord.

With that aside, this game is absolutely amazing. There's nothing here that will change your mind if you (for some crazy reason) don't already love this series, instead it takes everything they've done right over the years and cranks it to 11 while throwing out all the things they did wrong with Absolution.

Some people are over-the-top with their hatred of the episodic model. If you don't like it, fine, wait till January for the Disc copy. Meanwhile the rest of us will pay 60$ and get the same experience. (actually more when you consider the elusive targets they will be dropping in)

For me, as an adult with more to do than sit in my mother's basement and game my entire life away, the 3 levels we got are so much more than enough to last a month. Especially when you throw in contracts mode with them.

Highlights so far: Poisoning a lady's drink and drowning her in her own vomit, 30-minute axe-murdering spree before being gunned down behind a bar, standing behind some lady in the bathroom on her phone, gun drawn, and the reaction when she turns around, and the challenges/feats/discoveries that are tracked in-game now. (take a look through that list, if you want guided replay value, there it is!)

Seriously, if you like Hitman at all, this is the best the series has ever been. Whether you buy it now, or wait till January for everything on one disc.

Avatar image for p1p3dream

@skyhighgam3r: For the most part, I'm with you- but I do have to say- sitting at a screen for 60 seconds to reload a save. That does seem like it would be frustratingly long. Sure, not once.... but reloading multiple times... say 5 times? That's 5 minutes. Some of us have limited enough time as it is for our gameplay sessions- the less time we waste starting at loading screens the more time we can actually spend playing.

Avatar image for skyhighgam3r

@p1p3dream: I hear you there, we adults have very little time to play in the scope of a day.

That's why I laugh at how people act like 3 levels isn't enough to get you through 30 days lol.

Also, I didn't even know you could save mid-level in these games until just last night.

I've always started the level from scratch if I screw up. I feel like these games would lose so much appeal if I started acting like I had save-states lol.

So that does come into factor my opinion.

Avatar image for p1p3dream

@skyhighgam3r: Indeed, as it is I typically feel guilty taking time out of my day to play video games... And it's especially when I hit a load screen where I'm allowed to think "Hmm.... Shouldn't I be doing something more productive with my time?" And I start to feel guilty. Haha.

And you know it's funny that you mention the mid level saving thing, because in the initial tutorial boat level when it's walking you through your first assassination it actually has a moment right before you're going to do your first kill where it says "...Now hit pause and do a manual save, this can be useful blah blah." I was thinking if it hadn't of actually told me to do a manual save, it would of never occurred to me to actually do line. BUT - in my opinion, and again, speaking as an adult with limited time I'm really glad to have save state options... I admit to not being an incredible HITMAN player and I think these games are bloody hard as it is. The option to be able to save my game right before a dangerous encounter is really appreciated because 9 times out of 10 I will die on my first time trying. And it's bloody annoying to start all the way over.

Avatar image for skyhighgam3r

@p1p3dream: You make a good point, and I certainly appreciate the option in modern games to be able to save whenever. (PC games were doing this for decades)

I like to strike a balance with adult responsibilities and gaming. like, I'll play through this level, then pause it and do the dishes, then by the time I'm done with the next level I can unload the dishwasher. Things like that.

I think one of the reasons I enjoy playing from scratch on hitman is that the singular and major appeal for me in this series is the ability to just kill anyone however you want. I don't consider a level truly mastered until I have stealthily taken out everyone. Though this is proving more difficult in the modern games with these crowds...

Though it's all a great tool for anger management too. I have a major anger problem, but being able to vent it all in this game is an amazing tool to manage it. Some people like to hit a heavy bag, I equate it to that sort of thing.

Avatar image for p1p3dream

@skyhighgam3r: Ha! That is funny. You know, ironically, I have to say that this game actually works in the opposite way for me in that I find myself getting quite frustrated as I'm get so close to completing a particular feat only to see CRIME NOTICED. Blargh! I think perhaps I am not really a HITMAN player... Sigh.... I really love the idea of the games, and I think it looks just beautiful, but I'm so damn terrible at them. I think I just don't really have the patietience to play it properly. I start out okay, but as the time moves on I find myself trying to move faster and sloppier. "The Division" has been satisfying my need for unloading machine guns lately.

Avatar image for skyhighgam3r

@p1p3dream: lol that's always one of the things I loved about this game though. Is how you could take it slow or go in hard.

I always do at least one play through where I load up like Rambo and obliterate.

Avatar image for Fragzoon

@skyhighgam3r: Heh... heavy bag anger management...I have a $600 skin colored punching bag shaped of a 3/4 of a man... He's also bald and sour faced to, now I realized it is strikingly like Mr. 47.. I've dressed it up when punching too.. attached pictures of now unrecognizable faces too... perhaps I should tattoo a barcode behind the head and put up a suit as well now? But I have to fix that small dent on its nose first caused by my dog jumping at and biting it. Good times.... playtimes.. I bet you also vent using GTA?

Avatar image for skyhighgam3r

@Fragzoon: OH Absolutely! Being able to headshot shitty drivers while driving in GTA and watch them crash has seriously cut down on my road rage SO BAD.

I used to freak out BAD because come on... driving is not hard, and you're going to hurt/kill someone! Ugh... but since venting that stuff in GTA I can just take a breathe, and when I get home scream at the TV for 20 minutes...

Then I feel so much better lol

Avatar image for alihan992

@skyhighgam3r: THIS!

Avatar image for DantheMan9856

It is essentially an online only game. You cannot do the challenges while offline. You could be midway through a level and have a server disconnect...While the game does save every 5 minutes or so automatically, the sheer interruption is awful..having to reconnect and then reload your save.

Avatar image for skyhighgam3r

@DantheMan9856: I experienced this last night actually. It kicked me out of my single-player level because I lost contact with Square Enix Servers or whatever.

I could maybe see if I was in contracts mode or something.. but what the hell!?

Avatar image for nickwitucki

WARNING! This game requires an "always online" connection for Single Player functionality.

Things as basic as completing challenges or getting a rating require you to be online. If the connection is interrupted you get booted from the mission. Requiring online connectivity for single player functionality is one of the most disgusting practices a publisher can engage in.

DO NOT buy this game until and unless it if fixed and DO NOT purchase from SE again if it is not.

Avatar image for cboye18

@nickwitucki: Wait what? It has online DRM as well? WHY??? I might consider not buying the full retail as well.

Avatar image for nickwitucki

@cboye18: I wish it weren't so but unfortunately yes

To be fair you can still play the mission in offline mode, you just can't complete any challenges, use any unlocked equipment, unlocked outfits or unlocked start locations.

You also don't get a rating or even any feedback at the end of the mission, mass murder or silent assassin it's all the same! The only thing it tells you is that you did indeed kill your targets, just in case you have severe short term memory loss.

Oh yeah and you can't play any custom contracts made by you or your friends offline either.

Avatar image for aquamah

gamespot review for SFV should've been like this. "season 1 beta review"

that SFV garbage deserves two for trying.

Avatar image for Pelezinho777

@aquamah: Agree. What makes SFV even more bad is that actual fighting was pretty good, but what gives if there's no modes to play.

Avatar image for OkRaider88

This game is selling on Steam for $14.99, which I think is a FAIR price for a episodic game. This type of pricing is what Capcom should have adopted for Street Fighter 5. I can get behind an episodic game that us PRICED like an episodic game. Do not buy this game for more than that.

Avatar image for aquamah

@OkRaider88: Capcom f^cked everybody up with an empty piece of sh!t

Avatar image for Mogan

@aquamah: Only the people who bought it.

Avatar image for PrpleTrtleBuBum

Just having million options to complete your objective doesn't help if the game isn't fun enough to make you try them. That is ofc a subjective feeling what is worth playing again but I'm not buying this

Avatar image for shiel44

This should have been done like an early access review... you know, since it's nowhere near a complete game. Overall, not impressed, started Blood Money again for the thousandth time. That'll have to hold me over until all the episodes are out and this game recieves a massive discount.

Avatar image for Mogan

@shiel44: This isn't a review of the complete game; it's a review of the intro pack.

Avatar image for shiel44

This should have been done like an early access review... you know, since it's nowhere near a complete game. Overall, not impressed, started Blood Money again for the thousandth time. That'll have to hold me over until all the episodes are out and this game recieves a massive discount.

Avatar image for Gelugon_baat

I am seeing a lot of complaints about the game having some kind of online requirement that is not well-communicated.

It's hard to pin-point where the technical hiccup for this online requirement occurs, but there are people on Reddit which are saying that these are the saves, specifcally whether the saves were made online or offline. The saves do not appear to be convertible from offline to online and vice versa.

Avatar image for MetaMods

if you go to steam store and read the review about this game: so far its all thumb down

Avatar image for xenomorphalien

You know, it really is a shame. This looks like a fun Hitman game but they had to mess it up with the episodic bullshit. Oh well, I'll just wait till next year for the full physical game.

Avatar image for deactivated-57d0fe42747d9

Yeah... that artificial intelligence looks really bad. That's the type of thing that mentally takes you out of a game.

Hitman More Info

  • First Released Mar 11, 2016
    • Linux
    • Macintosh
    • + 3 more
    • PC
    • PlayStation 4
    • Xbox One
    Hitman will see players perform contract hits on powerful, high-profile targets in exotic locations around the world, from the highly fashionable Paris and sunny coast of Italy to the dust and hustle of the markets in Marrakesh in this creative stealth action game.
    Average Rating196 Rating(s)
    Please Sign In to rate Hitman
    Developed by:
    Io Interactive, Feral Interactive
    Published by:
    Square Enix, Feral Interactive, Io Interactive, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
    Action, Adventure
    Content is generally suitable for ages 17 and up. May contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language.
    Blood, Drug Reference, Intense Violence, Strong Language, Suggestive Themes