Thursday, October 6, 2016

Hitman (2016) Episode Five: Colorado review

    With the Colorado mission, we're coming up to the finale of Hitman (2016). It is the second-to-last mission in the game with the grand finale being a as-yet-unreleased mission in Japan. There's good and bad elements in Colorado with it drawing heavy inspiration from the dirty, washed-out environments of Hitman: Absolution. I actually liked Absolution despite its relative lack of freedom but have complaints regarding the fact this level seems like it could have used some more "oomph."

A gigantic militia compound with hundreds of soldiers is your assassination canvas.
    The premise is the International Contract Agency (ICA) have decided to track down and eliminate the Shadow Client for manipulating them against Providence. Eric Soders, the man who trained 47, believes he's located the Shadow Client and that he's a man named Sean Rose. Sean Rose has assembled a multi-national militia and is currently staying on a compound with three other dangerous terrorists. 47 is assigned the mission of eliminating all four of them despite there being over three hundred soldiers present.

Greenhouses! The most fiendish assassination location of all!
    Ultimately, my first complaint about the game is four targets actually isn't twice as much fun as the targets don't get as much development as they did in previous levels. Sean Rose and Penelope Graves both have interesting stories but they don't have nearly as much attention as, say, Viktor Novikov or Silvio Caruso. The other two targets are interesting to look at, particularly one who dresses like Michael Myers while he chemically tortures people, but ultimately too underdeveloped to matter.

    There's also the fact the environment isn't all that interesting to look at. The fact it's an apricot orchard is more interesting than the fact it's surrounded by hundreds of nearly-identical militiamen. There's also less of the interesting conversations I've heard in other regions. At one point, they make fun of the Donald Trump presidency bid but that doesn't really feel like it adds to the larger story involving 47 and Providence. Why are these guys rebelling against the government? Who contacted them? What are they after? That seems like stuff which would have made the game feel much more engaging.

Car maintenance can give you a headache.
    The ways of eliminating targets is less enjoyable this time around too. While there's a couple of good ones like building an explosive watch or using a battering ram against another target, I felt really annoyed when my Opportunity to dump someone in a slurry pit bugged out because a bunch of guards wandered in no sooner than the target dismissed her guards, rendering the entire thing pointless. The fact the targets also wander around in "public" means it's substantially easier to kill them too.

    Still, there's some real gems despite this as the ease of gameplay means that more ridiculous challenges are possible like garroting all four of the targets, sniping all of them from a single position, and poisoning them all despite not being able to start with enough poison for more than one. When I finally got my 20th level in this level, I had come to grudgingly respect what they were trying to accomplish here.

Armies have no love of home maintenance.
    Unfortunately, increased difficulty doesn't translate to increased fun. The aforementioned bugs where targets are seen being killed despite there being no way for it to happen or during Opportunities is really frustrating. Hitman (2016) has generally avoided these kind of bugs until this point and it's annoying to see them drop the ball in the final stretch.

    The Challenges are also generally more in the vein of accidents or straight-up murder versus the series trademark black humor. For example, one Challenge requires you to kill a target with a lawnmower but instead of running him over, it's just rigging it to explode. This is unfortunate as the dark comedy of Hitman is one of its major appeals. 

    The Colorado level also finally reveals details about Providence, the Shadow Client, and what the main goal of the game is. It's fairly clear that none of the major issues of the game will be finished by the final level but this isn't bad because a sequel is guaranteed at this point. Likewise, I've always felt the biggest weakness of Hitman in its lack of continuity between titles. I may not think the Shadow Client is as cool as the game seems to want me to think but, at least, I know who he is now.

I had a good deal of fun with the slurry pit.
    I do have high hopes for the game to set up future installments of the series and if they stick to the episodic format then I probably will continue to buy this game indefinitely. They could potentially have something similar to Ubisoft's Assassin's Creed series as the current engine is entirely capable of producing a near-infinite number of enjoyable assassinations without changing the formula. Whether Io Entertainment has anything like that planned is anyone's guess, however.

    In conclusion, Hitman (2016) is a game which is about ready to finish and it has managed to do so in a satisfying way. Unfortunately, the Colorado level is the blandest of the entries in the game so far. It's not bad by any stretch of the imagination but I didn't enjoy it as much as the others.


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