The announcement of the Hitman Beta was a huge step for Developers IO Interactive. Previous Hitman Titles ‘Blood Money’ and ‘Absolution’ (released in 2006 and 2012 respectively) were smash hits and many of us were curious if the team would wait another six years to drop a new Hitman game into our laps. Turns out it would only take four years and the guys over at IO Interactive are keen for us to see the fruits of their labour.
The Hitman Beta dropped on Saturday morning for those of us in Australia and I can’t restrain my excitement – my god it’s beautiful. Agent 47 is back and back in style. All of the great elements of the previous Hitman games are there with an extra spin to make it all feel new. Gameplay is similar, but graphically the Beta delivers gorgeous scenes and textures which are almost on par with Rise of the Tomb Raider (hard one to beat). The level of graphical detail is strong, with careful use of textures to create a realistic looking environment.
The Beta allows players to experience what the new Hitman will deliver through two playable missions, believed to be a prologue to the story we will get when the full game is released.
The first mission is a training exercise located on a boat which has been docked for a party hosted by your objective (the dude you’re there to assassinate). The second takes place in a military base where your target is a chess-playing mastermind.
On first play of the opening mission, you are guided by your handler to the decisions you make as Agent 47. This is a great way to start the game as you are essentially still free to make your own decisions, but your handler is able to provide you resources should you be unsure. Changing disguise, hiding bodies and accessing locked rooms were all a part of the mission. You also have side missions to achieve which can be anything from finding a certain weapon in the level all the way to assassinating the target using a life raft. Fun to try but difficult to master.
The gameplay is well thought out, though the AI does seem to be quite unintelligent. On multiple occasions I would open a closet and be noticed as suspicious, though I could be seen putting rat poison into a drink or food without even so much as a blink of an eye. Despite this, most important characters (the ones you have to assassinate and those close to them) appear to be quite well designed and able to register different actions and their impact quite well.
General actions and movements feel fluid, especially when throwing wrenches at bar staff to steal their clothing. Silenced weapons are great fun to use, but really demand you hide the bodies well. Sitting them behind a door or in a corner will earn you the swift hand of death should anyone spot them.
There appears to be a huge increase in options for assassinating your target, however the developers have decided to leave in the use of unsilenced weapons which are at odds with 47’s style. I’m not just talking about a pistol either but noisy submachine guns and assault rifles as well.
I mean come on…really?
In a game where you are required to be stealthy to survive, walking around shooting an assault rifle to execute one person seems not only to be overkill, but completely disingenuous to the nature of the game. Gamers who play Hitman do it for the sophisticated killing style, not the CoD-style slaughter of people and I can’t help but feel the developers have done themselves an injustice in this regard.
Although standard weapons exist, the multiple death options and targeted challenges are well thought-out and require a level of planning which is something I haven’t seen in a game in a long time. You won’t be able to complete a mission by some half-hearted attempt; planning and strategy are key.
Overall, the Beta was extremely successful in delivering a solid play-through of what I am sure will be another brilliant release from IO Interactive. The Beta is now closed unless you preorder the game on Steam. The full game is set to be released 12th of March on PC, Xbox One and PS4.