So I noticed some people have managed to snag the game early, and of course the entire thing can be found on youtube. I just so happened to be one of the lucky ones, and while I haven't completed it yet, I've gotten up to the part in the library with all of the cops from that debut gameplay demo way back when.
Now I'm not very far, but I've played enough to establish some thoughts and overall, I'm kinda mixed. I'll do up a list of pros and cons as of now, after playing through what are essentially the first 4-5 chapters:
- Game looks great, especially the facial animations, and it has some effectively moody atmosphere. Agent 47 is one impressive character model overall; almost disturbingly bright blue eyes, though.
- A lot of customisation at your fingertips; you can play as strict as you wish by essentially turning off everything and relying on your own instincts and patience. Sure, playing this as a shooter is now more accessible than ever, but at the same time the stealth stuff has been expanded about as much.
- Solid amount of incidental dialogue to listen to throughout the environments.
- Streamlined controls and interface, so you won't be accidentally pulling out your gun in the middle of a crowd or something. Plus the game has done a good job in hinting at what you will clearly grab the attention of the guards.
- Weird, wacky and at times downright terrifying rag-doll physics in full effect!
- Much more versatility when it comes to how you want to sleuth, not the least of which of course is the cover system and the ability to move around whilst crouched.
- Having a scoring meter up top, and not to mention all of the challenges and item/costume checklists and what have you, make for some incentives to perhaps play through levels multiple times even if there hasn't been a whole lot of variety as of yet.
- As you may have already gathered, this is a much more cinematic game than prior Hitman titles and there are a lot more cutscenes and an actual driving narrative behind it all. What this then means, as of now where I'm at, is that there's been a noticeably distinct lack of any actual Hitman'ing. Plenty of stealth gameplay, but nothing like setting up traps or anything like that. There was the Chinatown mission of course, which is also segued rather haphazardly into the story, but that's all so far. Just a preference of mine, but I liked the all-business nature of previous games were you just had a selection of missions that dump you into an environment to go wild with little context besides ''you're an assassin, now go assassinate''. Plus I've just come from going through a set-piece where 47 has to escape from a burning building; very straightforward, and I'm now starting to see what they meant when they said this was going to be a much more linear game.
- Most of the game so far has mostly been separated across a selection of disappointingly small environments. Nothing to match the sandboxes of prior games as of yet.
- 47 sounds weird; it's the same voice actor, but he sounds like he's actually from Chicago at times and doesn't have the same soft spoken English accent of the original games. Total nitpicking, though, since for the much larger amount of dialogue Bateson has to work with to build upon the character, he's done an alright job so far.
- Disguises aren't nearly as reliable as they used to be as people can very quickly see right through them if you're not using your 'Instinct' ability to hide. Also simply turning your face to the ground is kind of a silly way for Agent 47 to 'blend in' and if anything only makes him look even more suspicious.
- When you die, there's no slo-mo where you get to pop off a few guards to potentially save you, or at the very least to watch 47 hilariously stumble to the floor.
- I haven't got there yet, but that cage match QTE video that's doing the rounds lately is.... man, that's just wrong.
- EDIT: Oh, and you can't look through keyholes. Your minimap's there, but it doesn't distinguish civilians and guards, so you have no idea what to expect when you open a door and are to simply trial and error it. Really can't fathom why they would remove such a feature.
Overall I'm having fun, but I'm not finding it to be quite as engaging as previous games and I'm not nearly as curious to head into chapters to do things differently; it all feels so surprisingly enclosed and claustrophobic. After around 3 hours now I think, I'm getting the feeling that I'm not going to encounter any such levels as expansive and that offer up so much diversity as the Hotel level from Contracts. I have to imagine a lot of Hitman diehard fans are probably going to be feeling pretty sour about the game at that.
Of course I can't stress enough that as far as I know, I could only just be scratching the surface, and I would love to return after another 3 hours to say how the game's completely turned around. The gameplay and the options they give you is impressive and a massive step up from previous games. It's just that so far, they haven't given me much need to really utilise them besides cutting around a lot corners in cover. Hopefully this is just all the fault of a slow start.
So how's everyone else been finding it? And for the folks who are further on, can you confirm if the game gets better as it goes on?