Hitman episodes 1-3: A review (PC)

This review is done differently. If you haven’t played any of the previous games this review is not a good jumping off point watch or read any other review.

Hitman is a very blatant game. If you look at the title you know exactly what you are getting into. You are hitting men. Wether it be with a moose, knives, bullets or your bare hands you have a very simple goal; eliminate your target. The way you go about this however is when it gets tricky. You can’t just shoot a man in the face in broad daylight in the middle of a bazaar. You can, however, shoot a man in the back of the head in a secluded, ungaurded point in his routine.This is where Hitman shines. It is the thrill of the hunt, planning and executing the perfect hit that drives you to replay massive levels again and again with the goal of doing it faster and more creatively then the last time. Hitman is about building up a routine and then perfecting it with different weapons and methods.

Its broad concepts and moment to moment gameplay feel great. Hitman refines the ideas seen in previous games without losing any of its luster. The incredibly controversial “Focus” Mechanic has been dumbed down to great effect. No longer does it detract from the recon and tailing required for planning nor does it let you take out a room of people with ruthless efficiency. Now it emulates Agent 47’s reflexes with the ability to see unlucky victims through walls. Shooting is strangely realistic and I recommend people try to fight their way through a level once just to mix it up.

Hitman has always been a bit clunky to control but this installment smooths out traversal and the control scheme to a point where any old person can pick up and control agent 47 without too much trouble. The levels are huge with almost endless possibilities to take out a target. Think the first real level of blood money times at least three. The planning phase is a interesting addition allowing you to stash equipment and choose your starting spot, disguise and gear. Hitman’s AI leaves something to be desired however. They occasionally see through walls, shoot walls and walk over bodies without noticing them. This is coupled with their set routines being interrupted for up to 30 seconds if you accidentally bump into them. On the other hand they are absolutely ravenous once they begin to hunt you.  Once you are spotted running is about as effective as wiping your ass with peanut butter and then doing a triathlon with a rottweiler.

Speaking of things slowing down (pretend those last two sentences didn’t exist) we need to talk about the framerate. I have a GTX 980 an Intel 17 4790k and 16 gigabytes of ram and in crowded areas or just looking at the ocean I get 30 FPS or below. It only takes a handful of people to drop it below 40 which is worrying for a game that looks a year or two old. This kills the experience because some, less crowded levels run at a solid 60 FPS and are much more enjoyable because of it.

Episode: 1, Paris

Paris, the first episode in the saga of death that is Hitman is a little lacking compared to the other two. The two targets are much harder to kill and it feels almost oppressive how set in stone the ways to kill them are. The first floor of the massive building the level takes place in is really quite dull compared to the other floors and the surrounding area due to it being mainly just one massive frame dropping crowd. A lot less intricacy is involved in infiltration here as well. Once you find a security outfit you have basically free run of the fashion show. The one redeeming quality for me was the many ways you could climb to the top floor and really make use of the verticality being seen more in not only Hitman but stealth games in general.

Episode: 2, Saspienza

Saspienza is the pinnacle of the three episodes and reminds me a lot of one of the levels from Blood money. The manor you have to infiltrate is surrounded by a section of a small city with shops a milling about. The inhabitants and their routines are believable (except for the guy who walks up and down stairs washing his face). The guards are easier to avoid due to the abundance of walls that tend to accompany houses. Just when you think you have seen the entirety of the mansion you head underground to destroy a virus in cramped quarters of a secret lab. The lab is full of close calls and risky maneuvers which add to the tension of conventional Hitman stealth.

Episodes: 3, Morocco

Morocco breaks the streak of verticality that was seen in Paris and Saspienza. It focuses on horizontal, multi level buildings connected by a dense urban area. Morocco also gives you access to it’s rooftops which give way to interesting and detailed house interiors. It combines the ideas of Paris and Saspienza to create satisfying social stealth that doesn’t quite hit the spot Saspienza did.

Verdict so far

Hitman has more than enough content to be worthy of purchasing at this point. It’s a satisfying and fresh stealth game that has reinvigorated it’s predecessor’s signature style. It is, however, held back by some patch-able technical flaws.

Score: 8/10, Great

Cheers,

Earlegrey

 us on twitter! @Refractiongrey
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Path of exile impressions

If you have been on steam for more than 2 years you might have heard of a popular little MMORPG called Path of exile.  It is renowned for it’s extensive endgame, unobtrusive cash shop and great single player experience.  The game takes after games like Diablo, Tochlight and Titan Quest due to it being a loot driven click fest about maxing out unique characters. POE is instance based so you wont have to worry about too many uninvited players stealing your sweet loot or missing out on any experience. This instance based style does wonders for the game. This is the first MMO besides ESO that I can say nails a fun single player experience. When playing single player you can really take in the incredibly dark fantasy world grinding gears has created at your own pace.

The setting of POE is amazing! Although POE doesn’t have much of a story the unique world has fantastic lore with dark secrets for those who like that sort of thing. It also has a decrepit, salvaged look to it making it all the more interesting. Wraeclast is a dangerous place and this is reflected perfectly in the horrible monsters, shambling dead, exotic wildlife and everything else in between. It all feels grimy and dark. Think Diablo 2 but more exotic. The armor and weapons you collect give a good feeling of progression with their design. You start off punching zombies with a pot on your head and end up shooting ice out of your hands wearing you flaming thong of +1 badassery. It is quite satisfying. That said you do get a lot of junk loot and you will have to play a little inventory Tetris to get it all to fit in your backpack.

While gallivanting around the many unique regions in Wraeclast you will occasionally level up. Every level you get one passive skill point to spend on the MASSIVE passive skill tree (seriously, Look it up). This huge array of available abilities makes every players character feel unique. The traditional MMO trinity; tank, healer, damage has been thrown out the window to create crazy hybrid classes like a magic user that focuses on critical hits or a tank that uses a bow for crowd control. POE is about creating a class that suites your style and it gives you the tools to do so.

POE uses skill gems instead of active abilities that come with your class. They are picked up and socketed into armor which gives you access to their unique abilities. This adds a whole new layer to gear optimization; making sure you have the right color and number of gem slots. The only problem I have had so far is that POE can be quite tedious if you play for more than an hour. If you like the grind however,  (You masochist) then this is the perfect game for you but if your like me you might find it to get tedious when played for extended sessions. This tedium can be alleviated by bringing a few buddies but i still recomeend playing it in short bursts. POE is a fun a game that remembers it’s roots but still feels fresh. It is a glorious homage to the ARPGs of yesteryear and needs to be in your steam library. Leave a comment and let us know what you think.

Cheers,

Earlegrey

Find us on twitter! @Refractiongrey

Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/user?ty=h&u=3310677