When I first heard about this game, I was annoyed. Here we have a AAA title that is being sold in episodes. What’s more, in order to play this game, you have to be online. I was not going to stand for that. I refused to participate. Just like how I refuse to participate in releasing Final Fantasy VII remake in episodes. However, when I decided on a whim to get the disc release of the game, and holy shit, I was impressed. The wonders of what depression can do for a man. Here we have one of the most fantastic stealth games ever made, with a few flaws. All things considered, I am eager to see what comes next, even though I won’t be buying the episodes.
Have you ever wanted a game where you could actually feel like a secret agent? If so, this is your game. This game is at its best when you play it that way. Agent 47 is back in action. After the insane excess that was Hitman: Absolution, this is such a breath of fresh air. However, much like that game, one of the biggest flaws of this one is the story. To be honest, this game would have been so much better served if it nixed the story altogether. Just have Agent 47 doing missions to kill people. Play it like a Bond movie and have it be bad criminals doing bad things. Hell, the game even frames one mission where it’s rich clients who are hiring the IDA to get justice that the legal system cannot give them. They didn’t need another convoluted conspiracy involving some supranational entity who secretly controls the world. This trope is so overused that I am genuinely sick of it.
The plot goes that Agent 47 is hired by the IDA as their newest operative. They are a clandestine organization who works in assassinations. Rich people, corporations, and even national governments hire them to do wet-work operations against very dangerous people, along with some people who slipped through the legal cracks but have some very violent retribution coming their way. However, over time, 47 and his handler realize that they are being used by a dangerous individual to attack an organization who secretly controls the world. To what end? Wouldn’t you like to know?
As I said, this game is basically making you a secret agent. Each mission has you infiltrating an open level so that you can take out a series of targets and occasionally take on an adjacent task. The goal is to go through the level and be invisible. The IDA values no collateral damage. You are to be ghost, who kills with perfect silence, and never leaves a trace. And the game gives you a plethora of ways to get the job done. Each level has dozens of routes to get to the target. You can take the direct approach, but shooting your way through a crowd looks bad. The levels give you a good deal of freedom when it comes to dealing with individual targets. Some of them have little side-missions associated with them. Sometimes you can be a ghost and sneak around without ever having to change outfits. There are tons of disguises and hidden goodies to help you get your mission done. No one can say that this game is unfair. The difficulty can be whatever you want it to be, but you are still being given as much opportunities to make the kill as you like.
The best thing I can say about this game is the levels. Not only are the visuals fucking gorgeous, I mean holy shit, but the vast open spaces let you play around with how you want to get the mission done. Since I love to make a kill in a way where I don’t even leave anyone aware that I was there, it feels so good when I am strolling out of a place and everyone still thinks that all is well in their world. My personal favorite was in Morocco, where I got to walk out of the Swedish Consulate and have a massive protest outside, with me not having a care in the world. I had just killed a guy from inside a TV booth, then dragged his body into a closet where he can rot in peace until some poor cleaning person gets to find him and the knocked-out security guard that I left him in there with.
Everything in the levels of these games plays a part. If you get made, but are able to disappear, people will be talking about what happened. If you kill one person in an area, other people will start to notice. Take actions and you can see the results. My favorite was in Paris, where I dropped a massive light display on a target and had the entire procession run screaming from the show. That was cool. A bit more flashy than I had intended, but sometimes flashy works. How I dropped the guy’s lover was pretty epic.
The other flaw in this game, aside from the story, is how short it is. With five missions and the training mission, there isn’t a lot of meat. This is a game that is meant to be replayed. To find all the ways that you can ice your target. You can play each mission a dozen times and still be finding new ways to play. Whether you go from disguise to disguise, slowly working your way to your intended target, or find a tall tower with a high-powered rifle to blow your target’s head off without anyone ever even seeing you, it cannot be said that this game doesn’t let you play your way. Reminded me of that line in Leon The Professional, where he says that the best killer can get right up next to their target, while amateurs kill from a distance.
All in all, this was worth the wait. It sucks that Square Enix has gone this route, but I can’t fault them for the final product. This was one hell of a game, and I will impatiently wait to see what the next season brings us.
8 out of 10