Hitman Episode Three: A Gilded Cage Review

Blood in the streets.

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.

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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.

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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.

Written by
Senior Editor bursting with lukewarm takes and useless gaming trivia. May as well surgically attach my DualShock at this point.

5 Comments

  1. Is “open fire on everyone in sight” really an option? You’re probably going to die quite quickly doing that. On the other hand, reloading just because things have gone all sorts of wrong seems like cheating to me.

    So you run away, and hide, and knock out whatever innocent bystander you can find and steal their clothes instead. And laugh as everyone runs around looking for you.

    I think your mistake seems to be worrying too much about careful planning and nice clean kills. My plan tends to be to wander about for a bit to get a general idea of what’s about, then go for the targets. The bodies might pile up a bit, some extra corpses are inevitable, and your target might flee. In which case, give chase, shoot him, push him out a window, whatever gets the job done. Or you might get lucky first time and find an opportunity for a terminal massage. I did in episode 3.

    Careful planning is boring. Just go for it, and it’ll be a mess. But you’ll have spotted plenty of opportunities for a less messy kill along the way, ready for your next attempt.

    Episode 3 is the least interesting environment so far though. The opportunities for interesting ways to kill the targets (or get someone else to do it for you) are there though. It’s also the easiest episode yet, which was a surprise after the last one. More crowds than episode 2, which seems to help.

    • Please don’t ever be in the military. :D

      • Why? Is that not how they tend to operate? Just charge in, blow shit up, hope some of it is what they were intending to blow up, and then run away leaving a massive mess?

      • Only the Americans do that. We brits just sit around, drinking tea and occassional fight before drinking more tea. Then going all Arnie on everyone when the biscuit barrel is destroy.

      • Steven has it nailed. Tea first, then a right good thrashing then back home in time for crumpets.

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