Despite many critics initially questioning Square Enix’s decision to take their flagship stealth franchise Hitman episodic last year, the move turned out to be an inspired one, with the IO Interactive-developed title receiving numerous end-of-year accolades and even a BAFTA nomination for best “evolving game”.
After a number of hit-and-miss releases in recent years, the key to Hitman’s success in its latest form was Square and IO’s ongoing commitment to supporting the title post-launch, with weekly live content and exclusive contracts keeping players engaged throughout the series. Rather than being episodic for the sake of being episodic, the game thrived on having a story that was delivered in bite-sized installments.
Even now, as the title reaches the one-year anniversary of the season premiere, publisher Square Enix is continuing to support the title with new content: the studio recently announced the release of Hitman’s March Update, which not only fixed a number of bugs and issues, but also delivered ten new featured contracts, an elusive contract and two escalation contracts in Marrakesh and Bangkok respectively – the second of which is taking place this week.
Hitman is a series which has continued to transcend the video game industry ever since the release of the original Hitman: Codename Agent 47 in 2000. Perhaps most notably, the iconic bald-headed assassin has spawned two feature films, Hitman and Hitman: Agent 47, which released theatrically in 2007 and 2015 respectively. While both films ultimately performed well at the box office, they did less well with critics: each received an average rating of 3.7/10 on Rotten Tomatoes.
Elsewhere, Agent 47 has also spawned a mobile title, Hitman Go, as well as his own slot game, simply titled Hitman. The Microgaming-developed title offers players a five-reel, 15-payline game that features iconography, sounds and visuals from the video game series. Hitman also includes a number of stealthy CGI cutscenes, which emulate the experience of the console game. According to OnlineSlots’ Hitman slot game review, it certainly seems to stack up better than some of Agent 47’s other ventures into the wider world of popular culture.
As part of the 2016 reboot’s first anniversary celebrations, IO also issued a press release containing some prominent and unusual stats about how players have experienced the episodic series in the 12 months since its release. For instance, Club 27’s target Ken Morgan was killed by two percent of players with a coconut! Elsewhere, 70 players managed to die in one specific puddle, while even a cutesy blue dinosaur bike was used as an escape vehicle from Colorado in Contracts Mode.
In the release, IO boasted that the game contains over 100 weapons, including the likes of an exploding golf ball and toy tank, while the AI dialogue purportedly contains more words than the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy of books.
Following the success of the first game, which was reviewed positively on our site, it is inevitable that a Hitman sequel will follow in due course. For their part, IO Interactive confirmed at last year’s Paris Games Week that season two was indeed under development – although no further announcements have been forthcoming.
Personally, we’re hoping to see several characters from the Hitman novels make the transition to the screen, including the Otero brothers and motorcycle gang boss the Big Kahuna – the latter of whom incidentally also shares his name with an online slot game, although this Big Kahuna review suggests it is not a direct adaptation! Either way, if IO and Square Enix can continue to build on the rich storytelling employed in Hitman series one and support the game with regular post-launch content, series two is sure to be a hit with gamers.