Rock & Roll Is Dead
It’s been a few months since we last saw Agent 47. Now that the blood has dried on the streets of Hitman: Episode 3‘s restive city of Marrakesh, Morocco, the ICA’s most efficient killer has decided to take a violent vacation in Southeast Asia. Tasked with eliminating a spoiled rock star and his high power lawyer in the opulent Himmapan resort, located on the Chao Phyraya River on the outskirts of Bangkok, Agent 47’s latest entry in developer Io-Interactive’s episodic assassination series delivers plenty of thrills and kills, but ultimately ends up feeling a bit too familiar for its own good.
The previous chapter, A Gilded Cage, did a good job of changing the dynamic by shifting from the palatial grounds of Paris and ritzy Italian villas we’d previously seen by throwing players into the midst of a country on the brink of violent revolution. Sadly, the fourth chapter, dubbed “Club 27“, comes across as a bit of a step backwards in comparison. The hotel that serves as Agent 47’s hunting ground brings with it an overpowering sense of déjà vu, with its gilded corridors, busy bars, and stately gardens that seem lifted from chapters we’ve already experienced. That’s not to say things are totally stale – – this contract offers a wide variety of devilish ways to dispatch your prey – – but the setting certainly stresses the need for more varied and distinct locales as we approach the game’s final few contracts.
After you shake the feeling of “been there, done that”, you’ll find that taking down The Class frontman Jordan Cross, who’s gotten away with murdering a young fling, and the lawyer who got him off the hook is pretty damn satisfying. The hotel is teeming with opportunities to discover that prove to be some of the most satisfying yet. You can choose to make use of a defective microphone with a reputation for roasting hapless artists to electrocute Cross during band practice, or even assume the identity of a prospective drummer to gain access to Cross’ inner circle, allowing you to get in close for the kill. These are just a few of the numerous options at your disposal to make sure Cross doesn’t survive his 27th birthday bash, and uncovering the means to make each hit unfold with a watchmaker’s precision is as rewarding as ever.
All told, Agent 47’s Himmapan Hit doesn’t quite reach the lofty heights of 2004’s Hitman: Contracts‘ fan favorite hotel mission “Traditions of the Trade“, but it still provides plenty of incentives to make a return trip to the resort to see all of the different ways you can execute the rocker and his high pit bull of an attorney.
“Agent 47’s Himmapan Hit doesn’t quite reach the lofty heights of 2004’s Hitman: Contracts‘ fan favorite hotel mission ‘Traditions of the Trade'”
One area where Club 27 shines when compared to its predecessor is in terms of performance. Hitman’s tour of Morocco suffered from some severe performance dips due to its wide open plazas and congested marketplaces, which caused the game to move at a slideshow pace at times. That’s certainly not the case here, as the headcount has been significantly dialed back, making for a silky smooth experience that rarely misses a beat. I did experience some nagging audio issues over the course of my time with the game. These range from lines of dialog stuttering frequently to conversations between Agent 47 and his agency support operative Diana drowning out conversations with in-game characters. This usually happened at the worst time, causing me to miss key bits of dialog pertaining to my targets. While not a deal breaker, these audio bugs quickly wear out their welcome, and definitely need stomping before the fifth episode rolls out, presumably early this fall.
Despite these small technical gaffes, developer Io-Interactive does deserve credit for ironing out the performance issues that plagued the game’s third episode. Additionally, the once-notorious loading times that hamstrung previous chapters seem to once again be improved somewhat , which definitely lessens the frustration when you’re forced to load up an old save thanks to a supernaturally aware guard or bungled assassination attempt.
Though it may not be the most shining chapter in Hitman’s ongoing episodic saga, Agent 47’s sojourn into Southeast Asia is still a contract well worth taking. The setting may feel uninspired, and the episode may suffer from some unwelcome technical issues, but these nagging problems don’t keep this bloody tour of Bangkok’s luxurious resort from delivering another successful hit. I only hope that the final three episodes do a bit more to stand out from the pack.
Final Verdict: 3.5 / 5
Available on: PlayStation 4 (reviewed), Xbox One, PC ; Publisher: Square Enix ; Developer: Io-Interactive ; Players: 1; Released: August 16, 2016; Genre: Action ; MSRP: $59.99
Full disclosure: This review was written based on review code supplied by the game’s publisher, Square Enix