As we move towards the conclusion of Hitman‘s first season — there are at least two more on the way, according to recent news from IO Interactive — one thing’s crystal clear: in his entire career, Agent 47 hasn’t been afraid to take any job, no matter the circumstances. Along the series, these have included infiltrating a child’s birthday party, crashing into a repurposed meat plant, and even taking a steam boat trip down the Mississippi.
None, however, have come quite close to one of my favorite missions in Hitman: Blood Money where 47 had to break into a highly secured five star hotel in order to eliminate a couple of targets. The amount of variables in that mission alone was enough to build at least two separate levels on its own, but IO built it perfectly. They forced players to be creative in the way they’d slip into the resort, at the same time having them think about how to lure out the targets out of their secured zones, all the while dealing with other guests staying at the hotel. The end result was one of my personal top levels from the entire franchise, and believe me, I played a lot of Hitman over the years.
So, to my gleeful surprise, it was announced that the fourth chapter in the current episodic Hitman was to take place in a resort in Thailand, where not one, but two targets awaited my tender care — one, a rockstar who apparently got away with the murder of his top model girlfriend, and the other the lawyer who made it all happen. The setup alone is fun initially, since it puts both targets at wildly different spots at the hotel — the main one far deep into a building, completely unaware to the presence of the second one.
Still, it’s quite easier this time around to figure out an initial strategy, mainly because of the game logic that’s been in place since the first episode, as in, by gingerly following one of the targets around, watching for something careless he most certainly does and acting upon it. The same goes for the main one, but in his case, you get an ear into a particular conversation that happens to take place right next to where you start off, and then get the chance to nab a costume that puts 47 within millimeters of his victim.
The problem is that it all feels exaggeratedly convenient, and while sure, there’s plenty of other ways of taking out these guys, it’s just a little too easy to figure out how, because the game’s not only programmed in a way that allows you to stalk victims so easily and basically learn their entire pattern if you’re patience, but it makes sure to point it out to you if you weren’t aware already. Granted, that makes for some fun runs that aren’t as prone to trial and error as previous Hitman games, but the old magic sort of feels like it’s gone in this particular episode’s story mission.
Thankfully, the real strength of these chapters lie in their setting and the extra things you can do besides the two principal targets. In that regard, Bangkok is gleaming in terms of potential. As with the previous three episodes, it can be home to player-created missions and objectives that come in from IO Interactive itself and other players, in the form of escalation targets that are slowly added via the game’s online content. Bangkok’s beautifully rendered, both visually and conceptually, and it’s an ideal spot for any sort of creative content. That’s especially the case for these missions, since they don’t offer any real hints as to how they’re supposed to be done, except for specific restrictions — like all of the past locations.
Considering that the bulk of activities in the current crop of Hitman is tied to side content, it’s safe to say that you won’t be bored by this episode’s setting anytime soon, even if the story leaves much to be desired.