Things are starting to heat up as Hitman prepares for its final episode. Before we pack our bags for one last showdown, Agent 47 must first eliminate the leaders of a domestic terrorist group, holed up in an abandoned Colorado farmhouse. Compared to previous locales, it doesn’t have that same wow factor. Instead of breathtaking, exuberant vistas, we’re treated to fifty shades of brown as our slaphead assassin wades his way through a muddy apricot farm.
It’s hard to stay disappointed for long, though. Once again, Io has populated this new backdrop with a network of NPCs, each with their own patrols and behaviours. Expect some of the series’ top-notch dialogue to shine through as usual. Throwbacks to previous episodes help galvanise the story and setting while references to developing trends in the real world help to anchor its authenticity. We’re talking hacktivist wannabes, the potential dangers of 3D printing, and a billionaire presidential candidate known for their “famous haircut”.
Agent 47’s latest targets include a turncoat interpol agent, a bossy drill sergeant, a creepy mask-wearing interrogator, and their unhinged leader. They’re not a particularly stand-out bunch with only a few signature kills available for each. Watching their final moments play out in a regular grim fashion, I didn’t get that same buzz as I did when stalking Sapienza or Bangkok.
The main reason, I suppose, is the stressful amount of work that goes into a perfect kill. Tracking, isolating, and picking off a target requires a crazy amount of patience, here more than ever. Colorado has a severe shortage of back alleys in which to lay low or dump bodies. It seems like wherever you go, you’re within eyesight of a guard patrol. Therefore, to get any sense of satisfaction, you need to carry out a kill in exactly the right place at the right time. Being the perfectionist that I am, it took more than half an hour of trial and error and constant reloads just to kill one target. It may sound obsessive, but with such a heavy enemy presence, there’s really no other way to survive this latest assignment while banking a respectable amount of XP.
As you explore the training camp over and over, you’ll begin to develop a natural awareness of where to find weapons, costumes, and other points of interest. However, even with several hours under the belt, I felt way more restricted in episode five despite its level being just as big and crammed full of opportunities. Again, this routes back to the sheer number of surrounding gunmen on site. Unless you spend ages systematically killing patrols and hiding their bodies, all it takes it one silly mistake to see all your hard work undone.
Although I won’t be making too many return visits, the incentive is still there to dive straight back in. Hitman’s Mastery system presents yet another decent spread, rewarding assassins with new weapons, equipment, and starting locations. Together, they make successive playthroughs that little bit faster and easier while cementing your reputation as a career killer.
It’s a fairly minor aspect though, for me, it was the overarching narrative that stood out most. Throughout the series, 47 and Diana have been trying to trace a so-called Shadow Client that continues to evade their grasp. In the short, two-minute cinematic that closes this latest episode, Io has set the stage for what will hopefully be a climactic finale.