Between Hitman’s first three episodes, I’ve found Marrakesh to be perhaps the most underwhelming. Having stalked the Sanguine fashion show’s lavish Paris complex and murdered our way through the sun-scorched streets of Sapienza, Agent 47’s latest contract feels a bit drab by comparison.
This dismaying aura manifests straight out of the gates as you lead your assassin through the bustling confines of a Moroccan bazaar. Once again, Io Interactive has done a stand-up job in bringing this latest locale to life, yet it lacks some of the blow-away splendour of the previous levels.
Marrakesh can be divided into three main areas. There’s the Swedish consulate, a pristine compound of offices swarming with busybody politicians and their aides, a rundown school that’s being used as some kind of military base of operations, and a sprawling network of stalls, alleys, and shisha bars, many of which are at low capacity. This is due to the protests being held against Swedish banker, Claus Hugo Strandberg, having mismanaged some six billion dollars in Moroccan capital.
Although the Hitman reboot has an unspooling narrative arc, the missions themselves provide you with small dossiers outlining who to kill and why they’ve been chosen. Aside from Strandberg, 47 has also been tasked with the assassination of General Zaydan, a ruthless military type holed up in an abandoned school.
As in previous episodes, players are free to tackle this latest contract however they wish. While those with a curious mind will naturally gravitate to the location’s points of interest, others will lean more towards the string of assassination opportunities available, the guided kills which provide you with step-by-step instructions that place you within arm’s reach of the target.
That said, even with all the optional hand-holding, there’s plenty of room to experiment. Digging through Hitman’s submenus presents a shopping list of achievement-like challenges. From skill-based feats to bizarre hidden bonuses, completing these will net you a wad of experience points with each run. Rank up enough times and you’ll unlock weapons and gadgets that transfer into previous and upcoming episodes.
With its bustling streets and crowded killzones, getting the perfect kill in Marrakesh is a true test of patience. Despite knowing exactly where and how you want to pick off a target, the constant traffic of guards and bystanders results in prolonged periods of downtime, waiting for the coast to clear.
As with Sapienza, the more obsessed you become in pulling off a high grade assassination, the more Hitman will start to grate. In my attempt to kill both targets using prescribed opportunity kills, I reloaded my save a good 20-30 times. Whether I ignored a guard’s line of sight, fumbled with the controller, or ended up trespassing into a restricted area, there was no other choice but to pause and step back in time.
Sure, the option is there tp go “sod it” and open fire on everyone in sight, but that’s such a crude, unsatisfying way to approach any game in the Hitman franchise.
That’s a point worth mentioning about Io’s latest instalment in the series. Those first few runs of a level can be exceedingly exhausting and frustrating, though things do get easier with time. Everything, from patrol routes and item stashes to hidden entrances gradually ingrains itself in the back of your mind, making each subsequent playthrough that little bit less stressful.
Still, that initial teething pain continues to be a problem every time I start a new episode in Hitman. Whatever excitement I have is matched by an immediate sense of bewilderment as I prepare to memorise everything around me, knowing it will be another few hours before I can walk away truly satisfied with my in-game performance.