Hitman: Episode 4 – Bangkok
IO Interactive/Square Enix
Cutting edge developer IO Interactive and their intrepid publisher Square Enix recently released the forth chapter in the new Hitman reboot—and frankly, I’ve been looking forward to where they were going next with the series. I say series, not in the traditional sense of the word as in a series of games, but rather a series of separate episodes that compile the entire gaming experience. There are some detractors of this method of piecemeal releases, saying that the developers are trying to milk as much money as they can by dropping little tidbits of what they feel should be a full game instead.
I differ with these folks, however, as I feel that each episode is so chock-full of detail, that I’d probably be overwhelmed with it all, if all of the episodes were crammed into a single overstuffed package. Just as with the Paris, Sapienza, and Marrakech episodes before it, this new Bangkok offering is stuffed to the brim with so much content—highly replayable content mind you—that it offers even the more hardcore completionists, more than enough to take on.
“Mission 27,” as it is called, is Hitman’s latest entry into the blood-soaked assassination series, and boy, is it a doozy. The brief backstory details how an up-and-coming actress named Hannah Highmoore was murdered years ago, by the front man of a popular rock band called “The Class.” His name is Jordan Cross, and whether he did or not, he was never charged with the crime. Not that that matters to the family of the slain burgeoning starlet—her belligerent relatives want Cross as dead as a doornail, and have hired ICA just for that task. Therefore, Agent 47 is dispatched to the sumptuous Himmapan luxury hotel and resort, located on a posh island area of Bangkok, Thailand. Oh, and let’s not forget that there’s also a secondary target, Ken “The Brick” Morgan, the Cross family’s unscrupulous family lawyer (What—an unscrupulous lawyer? Surely you jest) whose arrogance is only barely outstripped by Mr. Cross himself.
The Himmapan hotel reminded me a lot of the grand hotel in the first Hitman episode set in Paris. In fact, this mission has much more in common with the Paris level than with Sapienza and Marrakech. The island that the Himmapan is located on is full of flourishing vegetation, and really related to me just how much the Thais are in synergy with their natural surroundings. Everywhere I looked I saw touches of Thai culture, and gazing farther out, I could see a busy cityscape as well as a thriving boat culture along the nearby river. Meanwhile, both locals and tourists alike go on about their business, chatting with each other, bartering, haggling, and even sometimes arguing. The location really seemed like a living, breathing world.
Although within the confines of the Himmapan, foot traffic is sparser—as compared to the densely populated, glitter-laden throngs of Paris, as I performed my usual recon of the place, I got lost several times. The Himmapan’s layout was to blame, but not that that’s a complaint at all. On the contrary, figuring out the nuances and all of the nooks and crannies of the place was quite delightful, and compelled me to want to play this episode through again. It make me curious to explore (and exploit) all of the different areas, from which I could plan and launch Agent 47’s dastardly deeds.
There are over sixty challenges to complete this time around. That’s a pretty hefty amount of content, and it’s all seamlessly woven together, as I found myself interacting with the hotel’s various denizens in entertaining ways which made the transitions smooth during the in-between times. So much so, that sometimes I forgot that I was actually there to snuff out two people.
Episode 4 – Bangkok, takes a lighter tone this time around, similar to the masterful Sapienza level. They both had that sort of tongue in cheek, black humor, that reminded me of the more racy 60s version of James Bond (with Sean Connery) as opposed to the hyper-serious tone establish in the more recent Bond offerings. I enjoyed this seemingly incongruous combination of grisly violence and surreal humor. It really bombards your senses, and deliberately violates the normal rules of casual reasoning quite deliciously.
I recall one instance when I was disguised as one of the hotel staff, and Cross was reprimanding myself and a gaggle of other sheepish hotel workers for something insignificant or another. It reminded me of some of the more toxic types of celebrities (which I’ve run into in real life) and their collective delusions of grandeur. Cross fit right in with all of those other self-important, self-styled demi-deities, and I found myself laughing out loud at how obnoxious and petulant his behavior was—just like real life.
Visually, I didn’t think that the developers could outdo their previous episodes, which already set the bar high in terms of the graphics department. But they’ve done the impossible and ratcheted things up once again. The Himmapan hotel is simply gorgeous, with beautiful architecture reflecting a careful blend of the best of postmodern, as well as traditional Thai, sensibilities. Not only are the environments sumptuous to take in, but the wide range of NPCs that you encounter are also well rendered. I don’t think that I ever ran into the same type of person twice, and the level of detail and personality expressed through a digital medium has once again set a high standard for others to follow. In short, this is one looker of a game, and one that is perfect for showing off, such as on a high-powered gaming laptop.
In all, I found Hitman: Episode 4 – Bangkok yet another shining beacon of peerless gaming craftsmanship. It’s confluence of stunning visuals, deep and varied gameplay elements, sardonic wit, and excellent replay value, make it the best episode yet (in my opinion) right behind the thus far incomparable Sapienza mission. Do yourself a favor and pick this one up, unless of course you have the Full Experience package from Square Enix. I can’t wait to see where they take Agent 47 next, but in the meantime, I’ll be slinking through the hallways and rooms of The Himmapan hotel over and over, in order to try and pull off the perfect hit.
Hitman: Episode 4 – Bangkok features graphics that are more than good enough to wow your friends with. However, you want to have a pretty beefy gaming PC in order to play it at a decent framerate. So, you may just want to invest in a decent gaming rig:
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