Hitman: Episode 5 - Colorado
- Street Date:
- September 27th, 2016
- Reviewed by:
- Sophia Edwards
- Review Date:1
- October 4th, 2016
- Game Release Year:
- Square Enix
- IO Interactive
- ESRB Rating:
- M (Mature)
Digital PS4 version reviewed.
The penultimate episode of IO's 'Hitman' sees Agent 47 dispatched to a private militia camp on an abandoned Colorado farmhouse. Tasked with eliminating four targets, 47 must tear the militia apart from within, and unravel a deadly plot that could lead to the end of ICA.
The Game Itself: Our Reviewer's Take
Colorado is, without a doubt, the least interesting setting that IO's terrific 'Hitman' reboot has explored over the course of the past year. Throughout these episodes, players have attended fashion shows in Paris, explored gorgeous coastal towns in Italy to put a stop to a biological threat, navigated 'Marrakesh' during times of strife, and even delved into the musician Club 27 in 'Bangkok.' If I sound a little like a bizarre tourist brochure it's because no matter how tense the situation of each mission could be, IO has always managed to draw out a staggering amount of beauty from its settings. Even when, like the Bangkok mission, the tasks themselves weren't quite up to snuff, exploration has always been something of its own reward.
It's unfortunate then, that 'Colorado' loses that and sets itself entirely on a militia camp with little of interest to see or do outside of the main assassinations. The militia that 47 has been tasked with disrupting operates out of an abandoned farmhouse filled with garbage, making it all feel like a glorified junkyard at times. Perhaps the worst part lies with how the shift to a completely hostile setting has also seen this episode almost entirely abandon the game's knack for black comedy. There aren't many interesting conversations to listen to. Almost every NPC is dour, acting as a means to fill in the plot's details and little else. This episode is, in large part, 'Hitman' without the personality that makes it so special.
Still, it's not entirely negative, and outside of the aesthetic and tone, there's a lot to enjoy about 47's trip to Colorado. The game's story sees major advancements that are genuinely interesting, and detail the central villain wonderfully. Mechanically, this feels far more like a standard stealth game than previous episodes, with plentiful cover and hiding spots to take advantage of. I expected to hate this, but ultimately the more aggressive AI leads to this being the tensest mission yet, a feeling that is only enhanced by the amount of work that needs to be done to see its ending. Four separate assassinations need to be completed, with each one that gets noticed leading to tighter security throughout the camp. Moreso than in any previous episode, kills need to be executed perfectly, and a single slipup could end the mission.
I really liked that aspect of it all. As pretty as the level was, 'Bangkok' before it felt aimless and dull. 'Colorado', for all of my issues with the aesthetics and tone, never fails to excite on a mechanical level. There are some unfortunate compulsory objectives that feel completely out of place with the rest of the episode, seemingly ripped out of a 90s Adventure game in how devoid of logic they feel. Still, it's a minor footnote, and I appreciate the attempt at a tighter, more focused mission overall.
The Video: Sizing Up the Picture
IO has a tremendous eye for detail, and that certainly isn't lost here, giving the militia camp a lived-in feeling that works nicely. The scenery is rather dull and the art direction feels grim in a way I'm not at all fond of, which certainly doesn't help, but on a technical level, this is still a great looking game. The visual imagination of previous episodes, however, is sorely missed.
The Audio: Rating the Sound
While this reboot has typically suffered from voicework that was far too American to work with any of its settings, the one mission that could excuse this issue strangely switches to a largely British cast for the majority of its NPCs. It's an odd decision, for sure, but the new cast does a much better job than those heard in any prior mission. Outside of this, sound design is fairly muted in stark contrast to how lively it's been in the past, but it does an excellent job of complementing this episode's tone.
As inherently replayable as this game is, there's a surprising dearth of objectives and opportunities this time around. By the end of my first playthrough, I'd completed all but one opportunity, and reached a surprisingly high mastery level without much trouble. There's enough here to justify at least a second run, but it does feel a tad empty for the game so far.
Despite its low points, the tension that permeates 'Colorado' works tremendously in its favor, leading to a more consistently enjoyable 'Hitman' episode than 'Bangkok', which remains a low point for the game. While there isn't nearly as much personality or humor as there perhaps should have been, there's still plenty of fun and excitement to be found within the militia camp. It's also the biggest leap forward for the story thus far, and builds toward what should be a tremendous climax when the game's final episode hits next month.
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