GAME REVIEW: Hitman: Episode 4 – Bangkok

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The fourth episode of Hitman is now available to download for full experience and upgrade pack owners, or it can be purchased as a stand-alone episode.

Its main mission, titled ‘Club 47’, sees Agent 47 travelling to a luxurious hotel and resort situated off the coast of Bangkok, Thailand. There he must eliminate two targets, Jordan Cross – front man of indie-rock band ‘The Class’ – and his family’s lawyer and corporate fixer, Ken ‘The Brick’ Morgan.

One year before Agent 47’s business trip to Thailand, Cross was acquitted of the murder of a young actress named Hannah Highmoore, and Morgan played a key role in getting him off the hook. Highmoore’s family wants vengeance, which is where 47 comes in, because as Diana says in the mission briefing, “The (justice) system may be powerless, but ICA is anything but.”

The location of this level is simply stunning. The hotel is enormous and beautiful, with a great balance of lush vegetation and the luxury that was seen in the Paris episode. If you look into the distance you will see Bangkok’s skyscrapers, and ships that sail down the meandering river, giving the sense that there is a living, breathing world outside the boundaries of the island. The hotel itself is very reminiscent of the Paris mansion, albeit without the huge crowds that we saw there. However, whereas in Paris it was relatively easy to learn the layout of the mansion, the Himmapan Hotel is much more complex and at times quite confusing. This is no bad thing though. I have reached level twenty mastery after quite a few exploratory playthroughs and I still feel as if I’m scratching the surface of this level. As we’ve seen with the other three main locations of Hitman, IO Interactive’s attention to detail is superb. There’s an extensive amount of NPC dialogue, dozens of items at your disposal and many realistic blending-in spots which you can use to help plot the perfect murder.

There are sixty five challenges to complete, and eight opportunities which you can exploit to get close to your targets. Highlights for me include disguising as a member of hotel staff and leading Ken Morgan up to his suite, where he berates you and demands that you help the housekeepers clean up. Once he’s satisfied the other staff exit, leaving the both of you alone, whereby there are various ways to get the job done. My other favourite opportunity involved luring Jordan Cross to his hotel room, where Agent 47 is already calmly sitting in an armchair, silver-baller resting on lap. I didn’t even give Cross a chance to turn around, just fired a quick shot into his back and made a swift exit. The challenges as per usual are fun, however they don’t feel as memorable as blowing Silvio Caruso’s plane out of the sky with a cannon, or shooting him in the eye while he looked through a telescope back in Sapienza. However, after the more serious tone of Marrakesh, Bangkok is definitely a welcome return to the humorous form that Hitman is known and loved for. 27 is the age rockstars die, according to Diana, and there is something deeply ironic and darkly funny about suffocating an indie band’s frontman by shoving his face into his own birthday cake (complete with a 27 cake-topper) while the party guests look on in horror.

There are several new items to unlock, but I think they could have been better. I was honestly expecting to unlock the detachable W2000 sniper rifle complete with suitcase, which would have been a perfect reference to the other two classic Hitman hotel levels where you had the chance to use this weapon. The best of the bunch is the ICA explosive phone which rings when the detonator is pressed, and detonates when somebody picks it up. I had a chance to use it whilst playing the PS4 exclusive contract ‘The Veteran’, and it definitely worked. Maybe a bit too well, actually.

I do think the unlock system is somewhat flawed, however. I’ve reached the maximum mastery level for Bangkok already, but I still have half of the assassination challenges left. It just doesn’t make sense. For those of you who aren’t Hitman completionists, there’s no incentive to carry on completing challenges. Surely it would be better to include a few more unlocks, whether that be new weapons, starting locations or drop points for your gear to stretch the reply value even further.

The only other niggle that I have with ‘Club 27’ is an issue that’s plagued the entire game so far, and that’s the sound. The same voice actors have clearly been used again, and it’s such a shame because it does somewhat break the immersion. Also, the Paris soundtrack has been re-used for Bangkok. When IO have put so much effort into creating a proper radio-worthy song and music video to promote this level, it seems strange that they have recycled the Paris music instead of composing an original soundtrack.

Those are the only negatives I found whilst playing, and in all fairness I don’t think they are major issues. They are mere annoyances more than anything, and definitely do not detract from what really is a fantastic level with lots of replay value. I was very impressed with the short cut-scene at the end of ‘Club 27’, as we finally get to see Agent 47 and Diana’s point of view of the escalating situation they are in. It does a great job at filling in some of the gaps that the sparse story-telling has left in its wake so far.

‘Club 27’ combines two of the best things about the Hitman franchise: vengeance and hotels. It’s better than Marrakesh, on par with Paris, but still doesn’t come close to taking Sapienza’s crown as the best level of the season so far. Still, it’s well worth a look, and if you have yet to take the plunge with this year’s Hitman, what are you waiting for? With Bangkok adding a fourth huge location to the game, there is a vast amount of content to enjoy.

I’m off now to complete some more challenges in Bangkok. I’ve heard that ‘The Class’ has flown in a replacement drummer, so it sounds like the perfect opportunity.

Positives
– A ton of challenges to keep you busy.
– A beautiful building which will take some time to explore each one of its nooks and crannys.
– A fantastic location for escalations and user-created contracts.
– Hitman is back doing what it does best: dark, twisted humour.

Negatives
– I’m so bored of that same British-accented woman’s voice cropping up in every level. You know the one: “Rocco, get down here. You’re gonna be late!”
– Fans of the series will lap it up, but I don’t think there’s enough here to entertain the more casual gamers for many playthroughs.
– Not enough decent unlockables (A coin?! Really?)

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