Do you want to know a little secret? I never used to like Hitman.
There was something about the gameplay of previous titles and, in my opinion, the rather vanilla storyline that just didn’t excite me. I was hooked on the Metal Gear Solid series, which combines stealth and the completely bonkers storylines and characters that I craved.
Numerous Hitman titles simply passed me by without a solitary thought, until I came across some Hitman videos on Outside Xbox. Of course, I was drawn in by the over the top, almost sadistic Manhunt style of completing your objectives.
From the moment I witnessed a poor unconscious henchman be ruthlessly dropped into a wood chipper in Sapienza, I knew I had to try the game for myself.
Fast forward a few hours later and there I was on my way to a glitzy fashion show in the heart of Paris. Yes, I’ve missed out the prologue. It was great, but, a tutorial’s a tutorial. (I did enjoy sending my target hurtling into space in a fighter jet ejector seat, though).
So, all tuxed up I embarked on my first legitimate mission. First thing’s first, ruin the TV presenters shot by the water fountain outside (twice).
With cameraman and presenter suitably pissed off I decided it was time to actually attempt my mission. I steamed straight for the main entrance with the fading sunlight bouncing off my (not very stealthy) bald head.
I walk through the door and there he is at the top of the stairs, Viktor Novikov. Swanning around like the self-entitled pillock he is. Now, I don’t want to ruin too much of the game if you haven’t already played it, but, the first thing that had me in awe with Hitman was the seemingly endless variety of items I could collect, manipulate and poison; the list goes on.
Of course, you have several ‘opportunities’ that you can explore to gain points for challenges, but realistically the choice is yours. Want to poison Mr Novikov? Mix him up a Bareknuckle Boxer. Blow him up with an outdoor heater? Sure! That’s what I truly love about Hitman, the ability to create what feels like an open world game in what is essentially a linear setting.
It’s very rare for me to revisit levels in order to try and achieve perfection. I’m just not that kind of gamer. I complete it, I move on. But not with Hitman. I simply had to attempt every opportunity and try to complete every possible challenge.
I spent more than five hours playing the first chapter in Paris. During which time I must have killed Novikov and Dalia Margolis at least 15 times, all in different but equally satisfying ways.
As serious as Hitman tries to be, because I think there’s a plot to the game somewhere, it really doesn’t take itself too seriously. All of the constant ‘dressing up’ as backstage tech, bodyguards, world-famous models and Sheikhs is incredibly funny. I’m sorry Agent 47, but you and your extremely gravelly voice, which you never try to disguise, isn’t fooling anyone. But that’s the beauty of it. You’re acting out incredibly serious situations as one of the world’s finest assassins, but it’s hilarious. How has IO Interactive managed that?
Hitman really is a triumph in a gaming world saturated by million dollar releases, open worlds bigger than Russia and more hype trains than Thomas the Tank Engine’s stag do.
As you already know – I never used to like Hitman, yet somehow playing it transported me to a simpler time for gaming. A time where gameplay and enjoyment was the main focus. Hitman put an ear-to-ear smile on my face for several hours straight, which very few recent releases have been able to do.
Anyway, I have to head off. I have to pop down to my local supermarket dressed as a Mexican kingpin to steal a Chicago Town pizza and stuff any employee that spots me into a freezer.