Developer: IO Interactive
Publisher: Square Enix
Format: PC, PS4 (reviewed), Xbox One
Released: August 16, 2016
Rejuvenating the quality of the season coming off Marrakesh’s low point, Hitman: Episode 4 – Bangkok, puts IO Interactive’s episodic series back on track. Moving past the midway point, Agent 47’s latest appearance is the embodiment of the season’s strongest elements thus far. Sporting fantastic level design, encouraging replayability, and offering players a rich breadth of variety, Hitman’s latest episode is a solid installment in the growing lineup of bitesized adventures. Taking place in a picturesque Thai riverside resort, Bangkok’s welcoming hotel setting is a fitting location for Hitman to flex its stealth muscles. From the smartly realized design interiors, to intricate gameplay options on display, Hitman’s fourth episode proves the season still has the necessary components to make it a success.Making my way to the front desk of the luxurious Himmapan Hotel to retrieve a room key, I brushed passed one of the two targets on the mission docket. Easily one of Bangkok’s most prominent highlights is the fact the two people in the crosshairs are atop the list of intrigue this season. Visiting the resort is a world-renowned band hard at work on their highly anticipated new record. However, Agent 47 isn’t on location for stargazing. Tasked with eliminating the band’s lead voice talent and bassist, Jordan Cross, along with a family lawyer who assisted Jordan in getting away with murder, 47 hasn’t touched down in Thailand for vacation. Both targets are cleverly placed throughout the hotel, fitting into their own unique patterns. The resort is inhabited with a heavy security presence due to the arrival of the band, with hotel and private guards stationed throughout. Setting my sights on the corrupt lawyer, I made preparations to dispose of him from the shadows. Following a series of effective distractions, matched with the necessary disguises, the lawyer met his doom with a kitchen knife hurled into his head. With the lawyer taken care of, I shifted my focus to the main event, Cross.
BANGKOK IS A CONFIDENT STEP BACK IN THE RIGHTFUL DESIGN DIRECTION
Bringing justice to Jordan Cross was a challenging and rewarding endeavor that came to fruition at the hands of patience and a clean shot to the head. While on the job, exploring the hotel was a pleasure. Each room felt believable and lived in, creating a sense of atmosphere that rivaled Sapienza’s seaside villa. Akin to past episodes, eliminating your targets can be done in numerous ways, from following the path of scripted opportunities, to simply unleashing a clip of silenced pistol rounds into a unsuspecting perpetrator. What keeps these opportunities fresh is the location they’re set in, consistently allowing for new and inventive forms of execution to play out. The carrot on the end of the stick mentality remains enough to inspire multiple playthroughs, all of which brought creative stories and memorable moments. Once again, the additional missions following the completion of the story chapter underwhelm in the face of their robust counterpart. Escalation missions grow tedious and redundant, lacking the novelty seen in the mainline campaign. Another bothersome blemish on the otherwise strong atmosphere are the accents of NPCs overheard when making your way through the hotel. While slightly more justifiable within the touristy setting than the painful voice acting that littered Marrakesh, the obnoxious reliance on American accents still occasionally pulled me out of the experience.Conclusion: Hitman: Episode 4 – Bangkok is a comforting success, directing the course of the season back toward its initial promise. Though Bangkok doesn’t quite reach the highs of Sapienza, it fits nicely alongside Paris’ introductory mission, and quickly surpasses the disappointment found in Marrakesh. Checking out of the Himmapan, I was once again filled with the optimism that greeted me during the season’s premiere. The distribution model continues to leave more to be desired following the completion of an episode and the weak extras drag the replayability down, but when everything comes together, the results are tense and engaging. With just two episodes left, IO Interactive’s first season is shaping up to be a solid installment in the iconic saga. Returning to the roots of what made the franchise special, while also interjecting more realistic life into the picture, 2016’s take on Hitman is a reminder of the longevity the series proudly carries with it, and Bangkok, in that respect, is the strongest one yet.
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