Published on July 1st, 2016 | by Joseph Saulnier0
Hitman: Episode 3
I think by now, it should be pretty clear the Square-Enix and IO Interactive have devised a winning formula with the new layout and design of the latest episodic Hitman series. As such, moving from one episode to the next reveals nothing serious as far as new developments, other than a new angle on the overarching story. However, with the new bursting-at-the-seams open world of Marrakesh to explore, with a score of enemies to take down, this greatly refined the stealth-action-shooter is still revving it’s proverbial engine.
Agent 47, our ever-recognizable protagonist of the Hitman series, is back at it again. Except in this go around, 47 is in buoyantly lively, jam packed city of Marrakesh. 47 is tasked with defending the vested interests within Marrakesh of certain companies. There isn’t much change from the previous episodes in the series: good controls, fantastic imagery, a detailed story, and – of course – tons and tons of places to explore and get away with murder.
What’s interesting though, is that 47 has run into what plays out over the episode as a political thriller stacked with officials of the upper tiers of the government, and trying to figure just where to draw the line. This political viewpoint changes the dynamics of the storytelling into something a little more advanced. More adult – as it were – not just the typical device that is used in most games. No, this one has a story to match. But with Marrakesh, Hitman may have hit that dead spot that often happens between acts, or central storylines in most movies.
Personally, I’ve not been to Marrakesh, so I am not able to compare the cities authenticity to the representation in the game. What I can say is the team at IO Interactive has created a city that works like an engine. It is well well-oiled, precise machine working exactly as it was designed to. Marrakesh runs like a brilliant experiment gone… completely right. And I mean down to the every last little detail. Just stepping into the city is a transforming experience. Tourists are marching the streets looking for an interesting place to eat, perusing tapestry shops hanging and selling their goods. Police are keeping an eye on their surroundings, including venders lining the streets selling various items. As I assume you’d expect in a real world setting, not only do these places feel dense and heavily populated in a big city with every part moving. But as I mentioned, I’ve never been, so it’s left open to interpretation.
There is a slight drawback to this – the extremely dense, over-populated city – getting away with murder is much harder than it’s ever been. With too many bystanders in line of sight of 47, the challenge of taking someone down gets tough. There are several different new and uniquely designed opportunities to take down enemies, but with such a gathering of tourists, locals, and other bystanders, using such methods to take down enemies becomes less like an opportunity and more like passing on a cool premise just so you don’t get caught.
With the new episodic format, the main gameplay themes are basically carbon copied from the previous entries: controls can be confusing to newcomers to the series, but become well implemented once you adjust; hiding inside objects and using your surrounding environment for kills is a must; weapons an melee are exactly the same. But what has changed, or at least feels like a good, quality change, is the AI. They don’t often stand there and let you get away with crimes, or forget to shoot you once you are essentially out of sight. They’re smarter. This gives them more opportunities to take you out. Working this game into an episodic format really does the game justice and shows the developers are committed to improving future episodes based on feedback from the previous episodes.
It should be pretty apparent by now that Hitman is the road to success and, quite honestly, should be praised for the developers’ quick turnaround at pushing out a successful, minimally buggy episode quickly and efficiently. If you’re looking for a not just a stealth game, but a great stealth game with great actions and creative kill methods added in, you’ll enjoy your time with Episode 3. With the vastly improved AI and the best ambiance in the episodic world so far, Hitman is definitely the game for you.
4 out 5 stars