Hitman Episode 6: Hokkaido
I really enjoy stealth action games…no, I mean, really. They were some of the first games I cut my teeth on as a wee lad. Everything from the original Metal Gear game back in 1987, to the ingenious medieval period piece, Thief: The Darkness Project, where evasion was encouraged (as opposed to confrontation), and how about all of those magnificent Splinter Cell titles?
Well, with the very well-known exception of the most recent Metal Gear game, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain (and to a lesser extend Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes), the stealth action genre hasn’t been getting too much love, lately. In fact, it has sort of been relegated to the sidelines in favor of both hyperactive modern shooters, as well as the whole MOBA craze that’s going on right now.
Much like Electronic Arts has done with Battlefield 1, IO Interactive has taken a gamble. They went back to the good old days with the new Hitman franchise, largely eschewing the current gaming industry’s propensity to make everything faster and more fast twitch based. Instead, their reboot of the now classic series, and their unusual move to release each game as a separate chapter, was quite a big roll of the dice.
In this regard, with their last installment of the rebooted series, Hitman Episode 6: Hokkaido, they’ve largely succeeded in their gamble. While many gamers may have been initially put off by IO Interactive’s episodic release schedule, seeing how each chapter has been brilliantly plotted out has to be appreciated even by their harshest dissenters. Hokkaido is an incredible triumph of the new series that deserves universal acclaim.
In his final mission, our favorite intrepid assassin, Agent 47, is tasked with taking out a couple of targets on the ancient snowy shores of Japan’s largest northern island, Hokkaido. Specifically, the Gama Resort and Hospital, an ultra-exclusive enclave teeming with both Zen Gardens as well as secret research facilities. Agent 47 is still working for the same murky client that he has been for each of the episodes, and without treading to closely to spoiler territory, you will begin to see that things may be a little more closely related than was initially thought.
The juxtaposition of the facility’s hotel areas, which are in such close proximity to the restricted research areas, can really throw you off. Players that are used to the expansive, more relaxed areas of Sapienza or the sprawling glitz and large crowds of Paris, will have a few monkey wrenches thrown at them, this time around. One minute you can be observing a tranquil yoga session, and the next, approaching an area that raises the suspicion of the all too perceptive private security forces.
What’s so intriguing about the whole affair is that you get the feeling that each and every episode leading up to Episode 6 has taught Agent 47 specific skills, as well as nuances to the reboot’s game mechanics. However, even when considering the sum total of its various episode’s parts, extreme caution must be utilized here, as Hokkaido offers up its own set of deadly challengers.
The sprawling Gama complex itself is a good size, and there is a lot to do within it. Its upper areas are teeming with both shops and resort-goers, while its much more spartan lower levels contain all sorts of obstacles to overcome—not the least of which is to evade being detected, and promptly taken out. There are still various paths to get to each of the episode’s marks and silently take them out, but the window of opportunity is much tighter than ever before in Hokkaido. One seemingly minuscule mistake can make things very uncomfortable for Agent 47, as the enemies this time around don’t play around at all. You can definitely tell that the difficulty has been steadily increasing since Episode 1’s initial training level, I’ll just say that.
Even after you’ve executed your main mission parameters to a satisfactory level, there is still a ton of things to do. Again, without spoiling any key story elements here, some of the peripheral contracts on offer are not only extremely satisfying and well thought out, but they also tie up a lot of the loose ends within previous chapters, as far as the overall storyline is concerned. Some of the ways in which Agent 47 can dispatch targets is also both interesting, as well as subtly ironic. If you’re a fan of dark humor, you may just experience a sniggling schadenfreude or five.
Hitman Episode 6: Hokkaido is a fitting culmination of a masterful and gestaltic gaming experience that at times, have seemed more like chapters in a novel or episodes of a film franchise, than a game. Even after a rather bumpy takeoff, the new and improved rebooted Hitman series is the best iteration of Agent 47 yet. And I don’t just mean in terms of graphical sophistication. I also mean with regards to both storytelling prowess and skilled writing. IO Interactive’s episodic approach is merely the icing on a cake filled with intrigue, murder, and healthy heaping’s of stealth.
Hitman Episode 6: Hokkaido has outstanding visuals that perfectly match its grisly subject matter. However, you have to have an equally fast 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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