When the first Hitman arrived in 2000 – dubbed Codename 47 because kids and their subtitles, right – it attempted something different from the usual stealth games. Unlike Metal Gear Solid which mixed in sneaking with cinematic ham or Thief which took the sneaking to a first person perspective, Hitman wanted you to be an assassin. It wanted you to plan, to execute and then walk away for your next assignment. Occasionally you would blend in by stealing some one’s outfit, leading to hilarious encounters with the Triad accepting you despite…well, everything. There were various problems with the game but for the most part, it wanted to do something different.
Over the years, Agent 47 evolved into a character, his missions, methods and the world he occupied expanding ever more. Players had more creative means to take out their targets. Worlds were more open than before, prompting different ways to kill off your opposition. That was until Hitman: Absolution implemented a fair amount of linearity into missions.
"With Hitman 6, IO Interactive seems poised to go back to the open nature of the franchise. More details are pending but the new Hitman game will rely on the power of the Xbox One and PS4 to carry its open-ended maps."
Though the crux of the game still encouraged different methods for bypassing encounters, it was by and large a single-player rollercoaster ride and not the open world sandbox that the Xbox 360 and PS3 could potentially deliver.
With Hitman 6, IO Interactive seems poised to go back to the open nature of the franchise. More details are pending but the new Hitman game will rely on the power of the Xbox One and PS4 to carry its open-ended maps.
On the one hand, we’re happy that the developer is going back to what made the series popular. And who doesn’t like the ability to do things differently at more than a few points in the game?
However, there have been several other games in the past few years which have tried to implement more open-ended levels for players to hop, jump and kill through. Metal Gear Solid 5: Ground Zeroes got it right for the most part but it was severely impacted by its overall length. Assassin’s Creed: Unity had the right idea but flubbed it all with its repetitive missions, glitches and a story that chose to focus on its Romeo & Juliet-esque leads more than the historical significance of events transpiring in the shadows.
At this point, you would wonder if there are many open-ended stealth games that have gotten it right. Dying Light has a good amount of hype around it and it will be worth seeing just how well the stealth plays out. However, it would seem the best example of a game where you can truly plan out your assassinations in an open ended environment – albeit in a campaign of short length – is Arkane Studios’ Dishonored. That had the benefit of magic and steampunk – what will Hitman 6 rely on?
"IO Interactive has, for the most part, always delivered a compelling release devoid of bugs and other issues. For the problems that Hitman: Absolution presented for the franchise, it was still one of the best games of 2012..."
How often can IO Interactive rely on the same gritty settings, the same Gotham-like noir and the same grim characters to carry its tone forward? Granted, there’s plenty you can do with those elements when it comes to presenting a well-rounded story and game. How different will it feel from Hitman: Absolution except that you have more options and freedom for planning out your killings?
It’s not as though severely changing the tone will automatically make things better – there are many who found issue with Metal Gear Solid 5: Ground Zeroes’ emphasis on explicit violence and the all too real consequences of war.
Thankfully, these are only a few obstacles plaguing the Hitman franchise. IO Interactive has, for the most part, always delivered a compelling release devoid of bugs and other issues. For the problems that Hitman: Absolution presented for the franchise, it was still one of the best games of 2012, carrying the franchise forward with its visuals and mission editor. It sold 8 million copies worldwide since its release so there’s plenty that IO Interactive did right.
The question now remains as to how the franchise will be carried forward in light of all the advancements – and all the glitches – that many open world games have been seeing. Hitman 6 could very well redefine the franchise or even the genre. It could also just be really, really good. Is either a bad option in the end?