Saturday, 04 June 2016 00:00

HITMAN Episode Three: Marrakesh: A Gilded Cage Review

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There's another new assassination in this year's HITMAN: Marrakesh (aka a Gilded Cage).

It became available for download on May 31st, and IO Interactive has seriously stepped up the difficulty this time around. What took a few tries and a little bit of planning in the previous two contracts now requires very careful consideration of all angles, superb timing, and often a decent bit of luck. There's just too much to keep track of for a player to know that they're 100% safe to do what they're trying to do most of the time.

There are hordes of people EVERYWHERE in the Marrakesh contract. Very few places have been included where you can isolate individual people in order to deal with them, and they're very small spaces on the map – bathrooms that are only half-enclosed, some combination bathroom/storage rooms attached to certain alleyways in the city, a couple of rooftops (which sometimes other people still go up to at random). In my time on this Moroccan murder mission, I've found that trying to knock out an appropriate person just to get the disguise you want has become a daunting task. And the challenges make things even tougher – for some of the assassination challenges, you're expected to wear a disguise that will specifically make people in the areas where you need to go become hostile to you. At one point, on my first run before I knew how to do much of anything with the map, I wound up using a single pool of water and a sabotaged power cord to electrocute somebody for their disguise. Then, of course, one guy had seen it and came to investigate. I tried to electrocute him before he called for backup, but I was slightly too late. I wound up having to shock everyone who walked up to investigate their corpses until people finally stopped showing up. Then I grabbed the first guy's outfit and walked away from the pile of bodies I had unintentionally built up. Comical, really.

I've found a few particular persons on the map that make it much easier for me to get a few specific outfits. From there, I can carefully, meticulously work on getting other outfits that will get me further into the mission. And I've had to become far more dependent upon misdirecting people to get the better of them – using sound in particular to lure them off where we won't be seen as I hit them over the head with a hammer or a wrench to knock them out quickly. It is the most stressful mission yet in this game; man, did they do a good job on it.

But at the same time, there are some flaws that are becoming more apparent, and fairly laughable at times.

Take, for instance, the voice-overs for the anonymous masses throughout the map. Virtually everyone on the map still sounds American. There are a select few who have a British accent, and one or two individuals at the Swedish consulate with what sounds somewhat like a Swedish accent. Everyone else is apparently strictly American, no matter where they're supposed to be from. It was the same in Paris and Sapienza, but it's becoming far more evident now in Marrakesh. I came across a number of these Moroccan citizens having... decidedly affluent, western problems. One man was on the phone with what seemed to be his wife, discussing with her the issues they were having as well as the recommendations from their therapist/marriage counselor. Don't get me wrong, I'm sure that there are instances of this in Morocco, especially in a place with as many people as Marrakesh. The oddity is in seeing these very old stone buildings, with open air markets - everywhere - and limited electricity, with a man in what looks to be traditional religious garb talking to his wife on a cell phone about what their therapist thinks of their situation. It just doesn't feel quite right.

Then, of course, there is something which particularly bothers me. One of the targets is a Moroccan general. Despite the fact that he is a Moroccan general, he has been given a decidedly pompous, somewhat goofy British accent. Further, while he has the city under martial law with his troops all over the streets, there are also troops in the Swedish consulate wearing the exact same uniforms. I'm not very well versed in the ways of the world, I'll admit, but I'm fairly confident that when a country establishes a consulate in another country, they guard it with their own troops. What the hell is this business with the Moroccan troops guarding the interior of the consulate? Where are the Swedish troops? At least, I assume these are Moroccan troops on the interior, what with their matching uniforms and the fact that I can wear said uniforms and get into the restricted areas guarded by the general's men.

I feel like these disconnects have severely diminished the identity of the people all around the protagonist and the overall feeling of being in a foreign country. Sure, it looks like it, but every time you hear a Moroccan sounding distinctly like Mr. Jefferson from Life is Strange or a woman with a youthful British accent shouting “CARPETS! CARPETS FOR SALE!”, or a guy talking about “airport lit”, it rips you away from feeling like you're in any other place but in front of a screen playing a game. And the fact that you have a Swedish consulate means there was a missed opportunity to further immersion by creating some vague distinction between the Moroccans and the Swedes all around you.


The Verdict

Overall, though, it's a solid level. As long as you can ignore the weird identity crisis going on with the voice acting, these missions just keep getting better. And this is definitely the most challenging one yet. Performance is still pretty rough, with the sheer number of people all over the place, but it's not a huge knock against it. It's still well worth the time and money for anyone who has enjoyed previous Hitman titles.

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Eli Ross

Eli Ross is an eccentric dude who enjoys entirely too much horror. Photographer, YouTuber, gamer, maker of many random things at random times. He'll be just as likely to mix up an improvised cocktail as he is to tell you that his spoon is too big or that he lives in a giant bucket. He also cares not whether you get his references - he'll only silently judge you if you don't.