hitmanIt’s been several years since we last saw Agent 47, a finely honed contract killer, and the world of assassination where economics and luxury collide with violence and power. Hitman, the sixth game in the epic series, has launched and is poised to change the way we play high profile AAA games.

Just a few months before release, Io-Interactive and Square Enix announced that Hitman would be the franchise’s first AAA episodic game. Deviating from the norm of most AAA titles, Hitman offers a world in which you play in that is continually changing, expanding, and improving over time through episodic content that spans the entire world.

Game Details

Platform: Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC
Release Date: March 11, 2016
Developer: Io-Interactive
Publisher: Square Enix
Genre: Action-adventure, Stealth
Modes: Single-player
ESRB Rating: M (Mature 17+)

A new direction for episodic gaming

At launch, you’ll have access to “The Prologue” and “Paris Sanguine Fashion Show” missions. The Prologue mission takes place 20 years before the fashion show and is composed of two free-form training hits that will introduce you to the features and mechanics of the game, which you will need to master in order to succeed in the world of assassination. It has been a while since I played the last Hitman game, so the prologue allowed me to freshen up my stealth and covert tactics skills in a smaller environment that got me fully prepared for Hitman’s first mission.

The story starts in Paris and as Agent 47 you must infiltrate the Sanguine Fall Fashion Show—the red carpet event of the year. From the moment you start playing, you realize the dedication and the amount of work that team at Io-Interactive have put into the game to ensure its success. The outside courtyard leading up to the doors of Palais de Walewska are filled with guards, guests, and news reporters that you can interact with and fireworks fill the evening sky. Look at the interactive 360-degree video below to see just how detailed and immersive the Sanguine Fall Fashion Show is—truly amazing!

Hitman features story related interactions called Opportunities that you can follow in each mission. For the most part, they will guide Agent 47 close to his target and the end result can lead to some truly glitzy eliminations. Although long-time Hitman fans may find this to be too linear, you have the ability to turn Opportunities off at any time in the game.

The remaining content is set to release in regular monthly updates throughout 2016. The next episode, releasing in April, will take Agent 47 to Italy with his sights set on a scientist living in a coastal town. While in May, Agent 47 will travel to Morocco and face the hustle and bustle of Marrakesh. The story will expand throughout 2016 as you travel to Thailand, the United States, and wrapping up in Japan by the end of the year.

Plenty of gameplay modes to keep you busy

After you have finished the missions, there are several other modes to keep you busy. Making its return from Hitman: Absolution; the Contracts Mode allows you to create and share a mission using any level and non-playable character (NPC) as the target. Included is a tutorial that will show you how to use the creation tool, set specific rules for a hit, and set rules on which weapon must be used or environmental factors. As more content is released, I can see this mode becoming very popular later this year.
Completely new to Hitman is the Escalation Mode, each contract contains five stages created by Io-Interactive, and become progressively harder as you advance. Escalation Mode is all about having fun with the game play mechanics of Hitman and then mixing them up. For example, you could be required to eliminate your target with a specific gun. Then, the next stage would require you to eliminate your target while dressed as a mechanic, and get rid of security footage camera within a certain amount of time.

Elusive Targets is another new mode, which at the time of this posting is currently unavailable. Io-Interactive has indicated that this mode will bill filled with contracts containing custom-created characters appearing for a limited time. Offering the ultimate challenge, once your target escapes they are gone for good—there are no second chances.

To be honest, after the announcement this past January that Hitman was going to be episodic I had my doubts over the amount of content that would be available initially. After 15 hours of gameplay, I am more than satisfied with the launch content. I am still finding new ways to eliminate my targets, and locations on the map that I had not previously visited.

Visually stunning with easy to learn controls

Hitman looks and plays superbly! With crisp and clean visuals, this is easily the best-looking game in the series. Both Xbox One and PlayStation 4 versions run at 1080p resolution and between 30-60 frames per second. You have the option to lock the frame rate to 30, but I suggest leaving the frame rate unlocked to enjoy the silky smooth animations.

The controls in Hitman are spot on and easy to learn—thanks in part to The Prologue tutorial. Agent 47 gives realistic reactions to your button presses and thumb stick movements. Adding to the immersive experience that Hitman provides are the NPCs. Each are full of life and interact with each other and the environment realistically. You’ll often hear relevant conversions that will help you in your missions.

There is more than one way you can enjoy this great game

While the disc-based version of Hitman won’t be available for purchase until January 2017, you have a few ways you can enjoy this amazing game. Available today is the Hitman Collector’s Edition at Best Buy Canada. Available on both Xbox One and PlayStation 4, the collector’s edition is packed to the brim with goodies.

The CE includes a unique code to download a digital copy of Hitman and all the content that becomes available for the game throughout 2016. In addition, the CE includes a detailed 10-inch Agent 47 “Chessmaster” statue, the official Hitman red tie, a tie clip with Agent 47’s signature logo, and a gorgeous 60-page hardcover art book complete with notes from the game’s art director. Take a peek at the video below, and see why you will want to pick up the Hitman Collector’s Edition today.

PlayStation 4 owners can look forward to exclusive content in the way of six bonus missions entitled “The Sarajevo Six.” The first bonus mission will be available starting in April and is included with the PlayStation 4 version of the Hitman Collector’s Edition.

If you just want to play the game, you can purchase Hitman by each episode or purchase the “Full Experience” over PlayStation Network and Xbox Live. As Paul pointed out in his Star War Battlefront Outer Rim DLC announcement, many people prefer to make their digital purchases using prepaid cards. Best Buy Canada carries a great selection of prepaid cards to choose from depending on your needs:

PlayStation Network
$50 PlayStation Network card
$20 PlayStation Network card
Xbox Live
$50 Xbox Live card
$25 Xbox Live card

Final thoughts

If you are looking for an open world, free roaming experience with virtually unlimited choices then Hitman is right up your alley. The first episode is brilliant, any doubts that I had going into Hitman were all washed away after completing the first episode. With finely tuned controls, crisp clear graphics, and high replayability—it looks as if Io-Interactive and Square Enix’s decision to make Hitman episodic is going to pay off.

No matter if you are a long-time fan or new to the series, Hitman is a game that cannot be missed. Let me know in the comments section below what you like most about Hitman.

Get HITMAN Collector’s Edition for Xbox One
Get HITMAN Collector’s Edition for PlayStation 4

Jon Scarr
Jon is the Gaming Editor and is based in Toronto. He is a proud Canadian who has a serious passion for gaming. He is a veteran of the video game and tech industry with over 20 years experience. You can often find Jon streaming the latest games on his YouTube channel. Jon loves to talk about gaming and tech, come say hi and join the conversation with Jon on Threads @4ScarrsGaming and @4Scarrsgaming on Instagram.