Hitman has been a series that has delivered for years. Hell, I even thought the movie adaptation, starring Timothy Olyphant, was one of the better video game movies I had ever seen. And in this new release, the developers are doing something they’ve never done before: adding a frequent live update to keep gameplay fresh and players intrigued.

I will admit, this was my first real Hitman experience. Nothing had ever enticed me to play the games before because it wasn’t my type of game. I am horrible at games that involve a lot of stealth mostly because of my incessant need to run into a crowd, guns blazing, and killing whoever crosses me. So naturally, I avoided the Hitman series. But after seeing Hitman at E3 and learning a little bit about Agent 47, I became more interested.

Hitman has turned stealth gameplay into something that doesn’t drive me crazy—and that is quite a feat. In games like The Last Of Us, the amount of stealth and creeping around the bad guys had me squirming in my chair. I couldn’t handle it. But in Hitman, the stealth feels like a part of the action. This kind of improvised thinking in the midst of a mission keeps me on my toes. It’s not just about skulking around to kill a target—no, it’s so much more than that. It’s about strategy and knowing how to use your skills and when, because timing is everything. And the best part about this game is having so many different options to take out an enemy. Should I poison the poor bastard or make it quick with my pistol? Check out the trailer for the new game below.

In one sequence, I actually seized an opportunity where I killed a target by having him launch himself out of an ejection seat in a fighter jet when we were “going through safety protocols,” as I called it. These opportunities will pop up, allowing you to alter gameplay and do something really cool.

I actually spent a lot of my time trying to complete the “challenges” during the skills test at the beginning of the game. These challenges act like achievements and include things like killing a target with poison or stealing a cop’s uniform. And of course, there are some pretty difficult challenges mixed in that balance out the easy ones. It says a lot about a game when I am so locked into the gameplay that I don’t even want to continue on with the story yet. It was only the preliminary round and already I was engaged.

One thing I learned while playing Hitman was this entire game was going to be trial and error. Meaning, you are going to start your mission, and die or get caught and have to start over several times. And you will find that each time you learn something different or discover a new way to do something. Rather than annoying, I found it quite entertaining and sometimes I’d shoot someone up just because I could even though I knew I’d get caught.

IO Interactive will be releasing live content every week between the releases of each episode. Talk about keeping your audience engaged, that is surely one way to do it. This Hitman game introduced Escalation Contracts, which are missions that escalate in difficulty five times before being completed. The Hitman website gave a good summary of what the Escalation Mode is.
As an example, the first stage could be to eliminate your target with a sabre. Then, the second stage could be to eliminate your target with a sabre whilst dressed as a waiter and removing any security camera recordings within two minutes. We are able to change where the security cameras are and also add additional ‘security’ measures to the locations, such as laser trip-wire explosives that you’ll need to avoid.

Another new aspect they introduced in this Hitman game is Elusive Targets. These are only available for a limited time and are custom-created characters—the real kicker here is if you fail at your chance to take them down, they are gone for good and you won’t get a second chance. And once these characters are gone, whether by death or by eluding your hands, they won’t ever appear in the game again. It’s like real-life Hitman, am I right?

My very first Hitman experience was quite thrilling and I think I’ve finally broadened my horizons from the typical survival horror video game. Hitman sped up my pulse, kept me alert, gave me so much freedom in gameplay and really left an impression on me, changing my opinion about stealth-based video games. Now I won’t think twice when I go to try my next stealthy video game. For more information, you can visit the official website.

This review based on a PS4 copy of the game provided by the publisher.

Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One
Developer: IO Interactive
Publisher: Square Enix
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