IO Interactive’s Hitman has gone through a lot of controversy in the last few months. The game went through a confused state of development cycle with Square Enix and IO Interactive finally opting for an episodic structure release model. We recently played the PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC versions of the game and right off the bat we can see performance improvements on console compared to the build we played during last month’s beta.
Let us talk about the console versions first. In our beta analysis we concluded that the game runs at an unlocked frame rate. This resulted into an uneven experience on the PlayStation 4 where the game would struggle during complex scenarios such as the places which were crowded. Moreover, Square Enix never showed the Xbox One versions leading up to the game’s release. To be honest, we were unsure how the Xbox One version will shape up but surprisingly, after playing through both versions, IO Interactive have done a great job in maintaining parity between the two console versions. We mentioned in our beta analysis that the developers need to lock the frame rate cap to 30 and guess what? IO Interactive have gone ahead and added that option. You can now choose between a locked fps option or an unlocked fps option. The menu readings also make it clear that although the game will run unlocked to 60 fps, you may face performance issues during certain sections of the game. Regardless, we went ahead and selected the locked 30fps option. The result is a surprisingly smooth 30 frames per second experience, even in the game’s most crowded areas. We highly recommend everyone to play the console versions at this setting.
As we reported earlier both versions render at a native resolution of 1080p. So essentially we are looking at parity between the two consoles in terms of image quality. In terms of core assets, texture resolution, shadow quality, ambient occlusion and post-processing anti-aliasing both versions are absolutely like to like. The somewhat limited physical based rendering pipeline supported by the impressive lighting system also help the console versions to shine. In all, there is very little to choose between the two console versions.
So how does the PC version stacks up again the console versions? The first difference you will observe is the higher shadow quality and superior ambient occlusion solution. The quality on the consoles isn’t bad, the PC version is simply able to offer more in this regard. The PC version uses a better AA solution in SMAA which results into more crisper image quality and a better anisotropic filtering compared to the console versions. This is not something you will notice right off the bat unless you compare the console and PC versions side by side. The geometry details are also better on the PC version, although this difference is rather subtle.
What about the performance? Before we jump into the performance parameters, let us first take a look at the graphical settings. The game does not have a whole lot of settings but it still has a fair share of parameters that you can tweak around. You can adjust the Texture Filtering, Texture Quality, Shadow Resolution, Shadow Maps, Level of Detail and more. Unfortunately, just like the beta there are no presets so you would need to decide what works for you instead of the game’s system deciding what is high, medium and low. Furthermore, the super sampling is one of the biggest factors behind the game’s performance. Super Sampling renders the game at a higher resolution and scales the image as per your display size. If you want to notch it up all the way to its maximum value, make sure you have a high end gaming hardware otherwise you are bound to face performance issues.
The level in Paris is massive in scale, so instead of of testing the training missions we went ahead and bench marked the Paris mission because that is where the meat of the game lies. The developers suggest a Intel CPU Core i7 3770 3.4 GHz or AMD CPU AMD FX-8350 4 GHz and Nvidia GPU GeForce GTX 770 or AMD GPU Radeon R9 290.
We tested the PC version on two different sets of hardware. The first set is an AMD FX 8350 and Radeon R92 GPU along with 8GB memory. The game literally struggled to run at a locked 60 frames per second with everything notched up to their highest settings. Moving on to our next set of test hardware which consists of 16GB of memory, Intel Core i7 5960x and GeForce GTX 980 Ti, we managed to achieve an almost consistent 60 fps but the game’s frame rate dropped in crowded sequences. If you have a hardware that is close to the recommended specs we suggest switching off Super Sampling and Level of Detail and Shadow Quality to their medium settings. This will help the game achieve a fairly decent frame rate in case of crowded sequences.
We also came across some minor AI issues although some of the stuff on display is rather impressive. Take this scene for example. The way the AI reacts is quite amazing but at times it can also lead to some hilarious animations. Furthermore, some of the quirky animations from the beta return in the final build as well.
In the end Hitman is a fairly well optimized game for consoles and there is absolutely nothing to choose between the PS4 and Xbox One versions. Both versions render the massive amount of NPCs without much issues. However, it’s the PC port that is dodgy and it definitely needs a patch or two to get it up to speed.