Hitman (2016 – Present) – The King of Stealth

Welcome Back Agent 47

When it comes to the stealth genre, level design and open-ended gameplay can make the difference between a good title and a memorable one. With the Metal Gear Solid series ending and Splinter Cell being MIA, Hitman has taken its place at the top of the mountain. While it’s current sales don’t directly reflect this take, dont get it twisted, there aren’t many titles that get stealth the way this series does.

When it comes to level design, I seriously question whether or not theres a title that can currently challenge Hitman. There is no right way to infiltrate an area, the series implores you to explore and make your own way. The first title in the series layed down the foundation for other titles to follow and it’s now evolved to the point where even if you’re unarmed, Agent 47 is still the most dangerous person in the game. No matter where the target decides to be, there is always another path to get there even if it doesnt directly present itself.

You can always take the direct approach, which is still enjoyable, but the best way to experience Hitman is to experiment. There are always pipes to climb, vents to pass through, and underground passage ways to stumble upon on your way to eliminating a target. Being patient will always yield favorable results because it’s almost guaranteed that you’ll find a new method of assasination. As long as you’re not caught trespassing, be patient, case out the surrounding area, and identify your entrance and exit points. This will always yield positive results.

(Credit to Hitman)

The strong level design enables the player to be as creative as possible, in turn creating an open-ended experience. You can adjust your loadout before the beginning of a mission and in the two most recent iterations, you can choose your starting point and costume as well. Players are rewarded for their creativity but also for remaining incognito, completing these levels in this fashion is challenging but it also opens up new starting points, costume, and gear.

Want to blow someone up with a rubber ducky? Do it. Want to dress up as a ninja and go ham with a katana and some throwing stars? Why not. You are the weapon and it so happens that Hitman allows you create some unintentionally hilarious situations. The ragdoll physics only enhance this fact, it is always funny watching an explosive send someone off the edge of a map or through a window. It may not be the most subtle or silent, but when you’re implored to do something crazy sometimes you just have to oblige this urge.

It does help that you can save whenever you want, so if you ever feel like blowing off steam by eliminating a room of enemies, then go right ahead. If you need to evade you can always change disguises and then find a place to hide. The AI isn’t the sharpest on lower difficulties, so this would be the time to experiment. Once you start ratcheting up the difficulty however, the AI is incredibly observant and will not hesitate to gun you down as soon as your caught trespassing. The challenge is completely up to you.

This is a series that doesn’t get enough attention but that shouldn’t be surprising seeing how this isn’t a title intended for casual audiences. It can take a while to learn the controls and it isn’t the most fluid title when it comes to combat. While Agent 47 is capable in a firefight, direct combat is more likely to result in a restart than a successful outcome. Gameplay isn’t about instant gratification, the payoff is all about watching a plan come to fruition.

Being in complete control of a situation makes the recent entries in the series standout. Level duration is completely on the player. If you want to find the tallest point and snipe a target, then most of these levels will be relatively short. What’s fascinating is that you’ll always find something to distract you while making your way to the target. Characters that seem out of place can later on be optional contracts to eliminate which makes these games highly replayable.

(Credit to Hitman)

What’s great is that the 2016 Hitman can have its levels downloaded into Hitman 2, which helps enhance an already complete package. This is one of my favorite titles of the year, which is saying something because 2018 has been stacked. With so many titles hinging on instant gratification and early access, it’s nice to have a title that rewards patience and so happens to be a complete package.

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