Last week, a new mission was added into the recently released Hitman game, and ohhh… It's nice.
In the real world, Sapienza is a Roman university, but in Hitman, it’s a tightly-packed city on the coast of Italy. A gorgeous environment that looks and feels like you're in an actual city, its architecture is older, with many buildings looking, appropriately, as though they were built a century or two ago for working class people (plus the mansion your target lives in). There are people everywhere, doing regular everyday things. Some are enjoying a day out in the sun, others are getting lunch at a local cafe or enjoying gelato, while others are milling about their apartments. The bottom-line is: Sapienza feels alive – even if you play through a few times and it becomes obvious that everything is scripted.
As with the Paris contract, you're dropped in to find a way to complete the job, in any way you see fit. The mission briefing explains that you've been tasked with eliminating a corporate scientist developing what is, essentially, the perfect tool for assassination: a virus that can be spread across the planet, but is undetectable and would be coded to kill just one single individual by attacking only the person with a specific DNA sequence. Anyone who controls the virus would have the ability to easily eliminate anyone they wished, with little effort and without fear of repercussions. You have one other assassination related to the virus, as well as a task to destroy the virus itself. You start on a bench, just across the street from the mansion where this scientist resides, which is very heavily guarded. Thus you must get creative, and find your way inside.
There are innumerable avenues for entry, disguises and methods of execution. Some of them are pretty hilarious, too – like an exploding golf ball, which you can either plant or simply throw right at someone's face. On my first attempt, I expected a firework for a distraction. I was very, very wrong. I threw it at a detective Hitman suggested I should wake up. Not only did it kill him instantly, it also caused two vehicles next to him to explode, killing several other people. Sweet. I then got shot at by every guard in the immediate area, and died within seconds.
I also made an attempt to shoot everyone I saw, did rather well, until I accidentally drew the ire of a large group of guards. All at once. Arrivederci.
The fact is, IO Interactive has done an excellent job with this map. The challenge is there, while you're learning the ins and outs, but it's also never overwhelming. You're free to explore to your heart's content, so long as you don't get yourself noticed in the wrong way. There was so much thought and effort put into its design that honestly, I can't imagine it getting much better than this.
As I wrote on Hitman's initial release, the graphics are not the cutting edge you could get from a AAA game. Yet they remain, in my humble opinion, gorgeous. Part of what makes them so good is the scale and density you’ll find in every detail. You might not be looking at a character that looks perfectly life-like, but you'll be looking at hundreds of characters that are all close, all at the same time. The visual appeal of being able to see so much on your screen, that all looks good, is pretty amazing.
Based on all this, I have to say: Hitman is shaping up to be a great new addition to the franchise. And the episodic method is working surprisingly well for it. There's still a pretty limited set of content, but it's so much easier to focus on all the many little things in any given stage when I'm not simply moving on to the next and the next to get to the end of the game. I'm thoroughly enjoying the challenges they've set up.
Overall, with this additional mission, I would absolutely recommend Hitman, especially if you enjoy stealth assassination that forces you to think. It works so well, that I don't see how any fan of the series can realistically pass this up. My last recommendation, if you're short on funds but still want to play, is to get the cheap starter pack and spend a while in Paris. See how much fun you can have there. If you can enjoy working at the challenges, then buy new missions as they come up, since it shouldn't take a hefty investment to get each of them. They're shaping up to be worth every penny. Can't wait for more, though I'm still keeping the score down, if for nothing else other than the fact that we’ve only seen two levels so far. Show me what you've got, for the rest of these, IO!