Io-Interactive had a vision for its flagship franchise and it came together brilliantly. Although many doubted the episodic format would suit an established series like Hitman, it worked wonders, spawning one of the most talked about games of the year. Having been slowly trickled into gamer’s hands since March, each chapter in 47’s latest outing became its own mini event. Had it been another Absolution or Blood Money, some of that would surely have been lost.
That’s not to say Hitman isn’t without its problems. The inherent trial and error approach to scenarios will succeed in rubbing some players up the wrong way. When you factor in long loading times, and the constant need for an online connection, there are definitely things Io could have done better.
With season two rumoured to already be in the works, these shortcomings may well be ironed out. Until then, however, we’re here with to rank season one’s episodes from
worst least best to best.
It’s worth mentioning that none of the six episodes are bad in any, way, shape or form. Some are just a little less remarkable than others. Colorado’s militia-infested farmhouse is probably the least remarkable of the lot.
Throughout the past several months, Io has continued to flex its muscles when it comes to sculpting visually stunning locales, but Colorado sticks out like a sore thumb. It’s an ugly duckling caked in muddy browns and clayish greys.
It makes for a major change of pace, where you start the mission already trespassing, but the overwhelming presence of guards and gunmen also makes it incredibly hard to pull off a kill without being lit up moments after your target hits the floor.
Hitman’s third episode felt like a bit of a step back following on from Sapienza. Comprised of three adjoining areas, it had players hunt down a corrupt banker and opportunistic general, both situated at opposite sides of the map. Between them is a sprawling marketplace and bazaar complete with rooftop vantage points, secluded alleyways, and street vendors peddling their wares.
The thing is that despite appearing to be the level’s focal point, this densely populated area is seriously underused, at least in the main story mission. Instead the two main targets are tucked away off to the side. Thankfully, Hitman’s summer bonus expansion, the regular elusive targets, and contracts have helped to make better use of this space.
In terms of raw style, Hokkaido is the flat out winner here with its serene, almost sci-fi aesthetics. Gama may be a hospital for the super rich though, at times, it felt as though we were exploring some kind of spaceship or a level stripped right from Deus Ex. As always, Io bolsters this sense of atmosphere through the placement of NPCs whose dialogue ranges from the outright bizarre to thinly-veiled social commentary.
Hokkaido may have been our season finale yet it failed to raise the stakes in a meaningful capacity. If you weren’t paying attention to Hitman’s overarching narrative, you could easily mistake it for yet another self-contained assignment with no real bearing on any kind of larger story.
The assassination of Erich Soders – 47’s most prized target – felt largely underwhelming whichever way you managed to off him. Despite some interesting options, Hokkaido lacked that endgame pay-off many fans will have been waiting for.
One thing Io does best is creating a sense of contrast within its environments. Deep within the exotic jungles of Bangkok we have this resplendent hotel complex that doesn’t look entirely out of place. However, peel back a layer, and we’re introduced to super-douche Jordan Cross, his bandmates from The Class, and their pretentious entourage.
Hitman actually does this quite a bit throughout its first season, making each of its targets incredibly unlikable through their exchanges with other characters. Naturally, this makes it all the more satisfying when pulling off that perfect assassination, especially when you’re given the opportunity to manipulate the target in some way.
The Himmapan itself also has that classic Hitman feel in terms of level design. The grand hotel has a multitude of corridors, halls, staff rooms, and guest suites, each of which can be explored without a particularly heavy guard presence
Naturally, being the reboot’s first fully-fledged level, Paris has a somewhat unfair advantages over some of the later missions. Set during the Sanguine fashion show, it did a fantastic job of easing us into Hitman’s incredibly stylish world of assassination.
Much like the Himmapan, what works best is how everything is contained within a single building. Each floor has its own network of staff, from cleaners and waiters to security and bodyguards, and then there are the hundreds of guests in attendance, rivalling the kinds of crowds seen in series like Assassin’s Creed.
Let’s be honest, nothing could really top Sapienza. From its idyllic coastal town to the number of creative ways to kill off its targets, we spent hours going back time and again, exploring every nook and cranny long after we’d maxed out 47’s Mastery ranking.
This sun-bleached playground of death is loaded with points of interest, whether stalking its cobbled streets, sewer network, church grounds, or luxurious mansion complex. Hidden beneath this holiday brochure exterior you’ll discover an underground maze teeming with soldiers and scientists secretly developing a deadly bioweapon.
It’s a wonderful concept for a Hitman level and one that adds a much-needed extra layer of intrigue as you slip into a hazmat to try and thwart their plans. Out of all the six episodes, Sapienza is the only one to have this kind of meaningful bonus objective and it certainly pays off.
The only bad thing we have to say about Sapienza is that it meant Hitman may have peaked too soon. To be blunt, subsequent episodes failed to recapture that same balance of fun and experimentation and, making them way less interesting by comparison.
So there you have it, all of the Hitman episodes in our order of preference… but you’re more than welcome to disagree. Let us know which episodes stuck out for you as being particularly memorable.
- Developer:IO Interactive
- Publisher:Square Enix
- Platforms:PS4, XBO, PC
- Release Date:11/03/16