After the Hitman Game of the Year edition I didn’t expect another release of what is probably the best Hitman game ever made. 2016’s Hitman made a strong case as to why assassinating people stealthily is not as dead a genre as the corpses you leave stashed away throughout your adventures as the suited-and-booted assassin Agent 47.
It was an evolution of the artform, in fact, and whilst I think I’m not alone in wishing the team at IO Interactive would get on with Season 2 already, there’s never a bad time to dip back into these grizzly sandboxes to find even more inventive ways to murder your marks.
Definitive Edition is billed as a celebration of sorts for IO Interactive, who are marking their 20th anniversary with this new retail bundle of every bit of content from the original Season 1, along with some new extras. Including all the bells and whistles of the Game of the Year edition, which hosted the excellent ‘Patient Zero’ campaign. There was also a bundle of new disguises and weapons and a reshuffle of pre-existing content, along with a handful of ‘bonus episodes’.
The definitive edition doesn’t do much to add to this already very generous package – though it’s the first time it’s all been present in a retail purchase. There are a couple of new costumes but mostly this is the same beast. Familiar, but fantastic. The episodic nature of Hitman allowed for some fascinating gameplay opportunities, not least of which was the new approach to sandbox-style levels. These sprawling areas encouraged innovation and repeat plays, offering a huge amount of variety when it came to killing off your targets.
These levels work so well as virtual murder simulators, in fact, that the team was able to remix them easily into new variants, tasking you with different targets that pushed you to get even more creative. With this set up IO were able to make an episodic game – a release strategy that is often the kiss of death for videogames – constantly engaging and fun throughout its original run, easing the wait between episodes with constant updates to existing content, and two years on the formula is still an absolute blast.
Hitman looks great – simple but great. It puts readability and functionality first – which is a positive, as a cluttered UI or confusing visual dioramas could have killed the efficiency of this title – but it still manages to look sharp and clean. Occasionally the game’s AI will be a little buggy, with certain characters not reacting to a corpse as they should, but that’s enjoyable in its own way. For some reason glitches in Hitman are very rarely annoying.
The sound design is still top-notch too, with easy to parse audio cues to aid supersleuths, along with some very satisfying sound effects to reinforce the brutality of your actions. Some of the sound bites from periphery NPCs are very funny too, showcasing IO’s knack for dark humour.
‘Hitman‘ is still as fun as it was when it launched episodically in 2016. If you have yet to dip your toes into this fantastic new iteration of IO’s masterpiece, now is the perfect time to rectify that gross oversight. The definitive edition packages together all the awesome content the team have put out over the last two years – and there’s a LOT of it – whilst throwing in a couple of fun little extras too.
Playing it all at once, rather than having to wait for more episodes, is an enviable treat, so if you haven’t yet I suggest you get to murdering some oblivious bad guys. You won’t regret it.