Stealth is a genre that develops in two directions at once. Some developers focus on the helplessness of the character, who is forced to hide from the enemy in order to save his life. Others are involved in the part of the genre that is responsible for the action. The second is much more difficult because the developer gives the player a choice: move stealthily or go straight. Such games need to be balanced, considering both paths. Splinter Cell Conviction is a vivid example of how the authors were so carried away by the action that the players were simply not interested in looking for quiet ways to penetrate and pass. But Hitman: Absolution, on the other hand, provided both in equal doses, pushing the player towards a quiet passage, but at the same time giving reasons and the opportunity to arrange a full-fledged shootout.
The problem with Hitman: Absolution was different – small locations and a very modest number of ways to eliminate targets, especially after the reference Hitman: Blood Money. Many fans did not appreciate such a course, and the developers had to “turn everything back.” But the direction was right, and the same Splinter Cell Blacklist with Metal Gear Solid V clearly demonstrate that stealth and action can and should be adequately balanced.
Instead, the new game, devoid of all sorts of subtitles and numbers, sends fans into the past of both the series and the protagonist so beloved by them. We learn how 47’s path in the Agency began in general, and we do it on levels built according to the scheme from Blood Money. Only now it’s difficult to judge how good Hitman will be in the end – thanks to Square Enix’s decision to split the game into episodes. But what has already happened is worthy of a story.
The Starter Pack, in particular, got a prologue of two and a half missions, where the future killer must prove that he is worthy of the job. During the beta test, everyone appreciated both the Russian military base and the modest-sized yacht – miniature locations that ran in twenty minutes. Poisons, strangleholds, firearms and melee weapons, master keys, distracting items – there was enough variety in the arsenal there, but the players were not allowed to roam too much. But the first and at the moment the only full-fledged chapter is worth discussing separately.
This is 47’s first solo combat mission, sent to Paris to eliminate a couple of dishonest billionaires leaking classified data to terrorist organizations around the world. There are two goals, dozens of ways to eliminate them, and hundreds of ways to get to them. The game allows the player to experiment freely, but now, just in case, it highlights places for the simplest elimination. Passed by the guards, overheard the conversation – and now you have information on the easy way to kill in the menu. It’s casual at five minutes, but no one forbids you to come up with something of your own or turn off these tips in the settings. Yes, and they will not appear in them information that the target can be pumped up with emetic substances, lie in wait in the toilet and quietly drown in the toilet while the victim vomits his insides there. You are just hinted at
To simplify the search for objects and interaction with the guards from Hitman: Absolution, a slightly modified “Instinct” of the 47th migrated here, when the agent can see people literally through walls and mark all active objects in his field of view. What didn’t move was Mimicry, thanks to which the bald-headed killer could easily pass just a few steps from the guards, making his face a brick and pulling his hat over his eyes.
Instead, something that has been asking for a long time has come: some people in uniform now know all their colleagues at the location by sight. If you approach, say, a waiter, wearing the suit of another waiter, he will instantly suspect that something was wrong. By default, all “attentive” people are marked on the map with white markers, but gamers who want to complicate their gameplay can go to the menu and remove interfering hints in the settings. There, in general, you can turn off markers, and “Instinct”, and the display of special kill opportunities.
However, even if you leave yourself the whole set of tips, then a walk in stealth will not be too easy, because all the enemies available during the passage of indulgence compensate for their number and unpredictability. Almost anyone can raise the alarm, and the 47th machine gun burst will not survive for all its coolness. There are, however, enemies who for some reason prefer to call the agent into close combat, in which they have little chance – the 47th easily cracks down on such with a one-button QTE.
But unpredictability is just what the authors did not include in the local AI. The fact is that some enemies obviously have eyes in the back of their heads and “Instinct” is no worse than that of an agent. There is no other way to explain their habit of periodically seeing through walls and raising the alarm when 47 quietly strangles someone several rooms away. There was almost no such thing in the beta, but on the Parisian map it happens so often that it is no longer possible to turn a blind eye to it.
In response to such impudence, you can shoot all the “telepaths”, hide for a couple of minutes and then calmly continue to go about your business – as in most stealth games, the world of Hitman is inhabited by people with the memory of Dory fish. But no, this is not a recommendation to arrange a bloodbath – using stealth here is much more useful and interesting.
Yes, so far only one big map is available in Hitman, but it is expected that you will play it dozens of times. A huge number of tests are scattered throughout the level, and the more you can overcome, the more diverse each subsequent passage will be. For example, it will be possible to start the task not as a guest at the reception, but as one of the workers. Or even land at a convenient sniper point. In addition, you can open many Agency caches with equipment on the map and no longer bother looking for items to solve complex problems.
These innovations can really inspire you to complete the mission again and again, as in the old games of the series, where players wanted to complete the task as cleanly as possible, not only for the sake of the coveted status of Silent Assassin, but also for the sake of money for new weapons. There are no complaints, the authors managed to turn their only full-fledged location into a separate game of twenty walkthroughs, and this is the only thing that somehow excuses cutting the game into chapters.
However, Hitman has a lot of technical problems even without such an approach to publishing. For example, the game constantly requires you to be online, otherwise it simply does not allow you to see the test statistics. In fact, if you do not have the Internet, then you lose a third of honestly purchased content. It’s one thing when the “Contracts” mode does not work without the Internet, already familiar to players from Hitman: Absolution, but this time supplemented with extended statistics, catalogs and events. It is quite another when even some saves made offline may refuse to function.
The game also looks far from its system requirements. For some reason, on a non-weak PC, it does not allow you to set high quality textures, and an attempt to raise other parameters leads to an increase in the “soap” around. There is no need to even talk about the traditional release performance difficulties for the PC versions of all games from Io-Interactive – these are the problems of individual unfortunate players. The only trouble is that these “individual” comrades this time, oh, how many – if you believe the reviews on the network, of course.
Next is management. The control from the keyboard was definitely thought out by some octopus, because the scatter of the keys barely reaches the level of the Devil May Cry 3 PC port. Absolutely every action has its own key assigned here: separately “Take”, “Melee”, “Use item”, “Put on a disguise” and much more – in addition to the standard movement, sprint and squat. What prevented you from combining, for example, melee combat and the use of items, if at the same time they never participate in the gameplay? And why is the same mouse used purely for shooting? On the gamepad, everything is much more organic simply because you don’t have to stretch your fingers across huge distances for the sake of elementary actions. However, even in the case of the gamepad there are oddities – the authors considered that the LB (L1) button is ideal for sprinting,
As you can see, returning to the roots is not always a guarantee of success. Nevertheless, if we forget that the game has such a stupid AI, rustic graphics and crooked optimization, then we can say that the return to the roots was a success. Albeit a stretch, but Hitman turned out to be a good game again. It just comes with a whole bunch of problems that the authors have yet to fix in patches and future episodes. Let’s see if they succeed.