Hitman Beta Impressions


Agent 47 Returns, But Will This Hitman Be Dead On Arrival?

We still have two months to go before its commercial release, but the new Hitman game has already made a number of slip-ups since its announcement. First came the news that IO Interactive and Square Enix planned to launch the game in an episodic format, which reeked of a scheme to take a genre typically known for story-based adventure games and use it as a new business model for increased profit.

Then came the issues surrounding online-DRM, with news that the Hitman beta would require an online connection in order to be played (though it has now been confirmed that the full game won’t feature this limitation). Well, that aforementioned beta is finally here and, over the weekend, I managed to get a good few hours into Agent 47’s first foray onto the current generation of consoles.

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As soon as I booted up the beta, I was asked to connect online, with the game then taking another few minutes to connect me to the in-game network. This made for a bad first impression, which was only worsened further by an opening cut-scene featuring terrible lip-syncing and a few framerate glitches. Still, it’s a beta, and these are permissible…at least for now.

The beta features two playable missions, with each offering open-ended approaches for multiple replays. The meat and bones of the gameplay is essentially a refined version of what IO Interactive served up with 2012’s Hitman Absolution. Using his varied arsenal, keen senses and a number of improvised disguises, Agent 47 is tasked with taking out specific targets who have attained a bounty over their heads.

Whilst the over-stylized caricatures of Hitman Absolution are nowhere to be seen, IO Interactive have only doubled down on the hilarity with regards to the multiple ways in which you can take out your target. In one scenario, I tampered with a stationery fighter jet’s ejection seat before my witless victim tested out the vehicle’s safety precautions. The result was, well, rather uplifting to say the least.

The upgraded hardware of the new consoles has also allowed IO Interactive to improve the scale of their environments, with the first mission set on a cruise ship featuring detailed and lively crowds, with notwo individuals looking the same. There have certainly been better looking games, but Hitman has a slick aesthetic which works effectively in facilitating the player’s assassination antics. One new feature is Agent 47’s heightened senses which, with the click of a button, allows him to notice key objects and landmarks in the environment. Sadly, some of the frustrations from Hitman Absolution have remained, such as the QTE combat system and the stiff gunplay.

For now, the Hitman beta has shown that IO Interactive still know how to deliver on the satisfaction of a perfect assassination, especially if players manage to pull off some of the more inventive means of execution. That said, there’s certainly some work to be done before Hitman releases, especially if IO Interactive wants to convince those who were alienated by the announcement that the game would be cut up into episodic pieces. The actual impact of this new format remains to be seen, but be sure to stay with Gamesided in the coming months as we approach the full release of the game.