Hitman is Fun

Posted on February 11, 2018 by Richard Goulter

I hadn’t really played any of the previous games in the Hitman series.
My experience was limited to watching games on YouTube.

I picked up the game recently.

The game was released episodically.
So, they released level-by-level. Each new release did see improvements to the gameplay and such, too. This seems much more sober and professional than “early access”.
– An advantage of not picking it up ‘as it came out’ is I have the option to play it all at once.

And, interestingly, I have the option to play any level I want.
Which is weird for a game. Because, usually games with single-play have stories. And usually the story should be experienced in-order. And so usually the game gets you to play it in order.
Hitman does have a story-based single-player campaign. Which should be played in-order.
But. I think Hitman’s formula is really aimed at “replayability”. In this sense, each map isn’t so much a ‘level’ so much as an arena.
The story-based missions have particular, prominent targets; and most of the special details and potential interactions are designed around the main targets.
– But what makes Hitman replayable is a fairly rich set of gameplay rules, and levels designed to make the most of the dynamics which come from that.

Some examples of this, which enhance replayability: - The game will highlight / show interactions, even if you don’t have the requisite disguise or equipment. This shows the player what is possible. e.g. In the first level, you can hide an explosive in a camera, and trigger the explosive when the camera is used in an interview. – So you know next time you try the level, to keep an eye out for explosives. - As per the design of “modern” games, Hitman does ‘tell’ you what things are possible by listing certain ‘challenges’ to try. (e.g. “use a sniper rifle and kill both targets within 10s of each other”). - There’s a game-mode, “escalations”, which iteratively reveals a set of objectives on each replay (of that mode). e.g. 1st stage would be “kill this target while disguised as a guard”; 2nd stage may add a complication that you must hide any dead bodies. Or the escalated complication might change the disguise required. - Completing certain challenges/etc. unlocks different equipment, and different entry-points into the level. (Sometimes with different disguises!).

To clarify the gameplay rules: The player is on his own, and must kill targets (or sometimes steal something), and the map is filled with guards and people. Typically set in a relatively normal context. e.g. a fashion show.
But the levels aren’t especially designed for “sneak around the guards, kill the target” as much as around the particular ‘disguises’. That is, outfits that the different kinds of game characters wear. The puzzle to the game is to find out what your outfit allows you to do, how to acquire a better outfit, and how to make use of the different outfits. – e.g. if you’re disguised as a kitchen chef, you won’t be allowed into where you could go if you were disguised as a guard.
But, it’s not as if being a guard is necessarily the best outfit for every situation: some of the enemy guards will notice that they don’t recognise you! (Another example: It’s not suspicious to see a waitor add something to a drink (like poison). But if they see a guard adding something to a drink, that’s just suspicious).

There are more subtle gameplay aspects crafted around the disguise-game. e.g. people can hear gunshots, or combat.. and will be suspicious if they see you using a picklock to open a lock, or whatever.

But the dynamics this leads to?
- Learning what the layout of the level is. (Where are all the good items? Where’s the key/wrench/coin/etc.? Where are easy places to get particular outfits? Which places allow which outfits?). - More than one way to skin a cat! – In particular, you usually get the feeling that maybe there was a less ‘awkward’ way to complete the mission than you did.

Simple plain run-and-gun is discouraged.
The player isn’t a bullet-sponge, and will die fairly quickly to a guard shooting him. That said, with the right choke points it is possible to eliminate the guards in an area. – IMHO, this is kindof useful for learning the location of certain key items, and getting familiar with the layout of a map.

So far I’ve spent my time only in one map. But I’ve poured more time into it than a typical Call of Duty campaign, so I’m kindof impressed by how the game manages to achieve a degree of “replayability”.

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