The new series of Hitman is great. While some bemoaned the episodic format when it was announced (and a few still do), it’s meant that the game is now distilled into what it’s always been about at heart: an emergent sandbox full of assassination opportunities. There is still a storyline running through the season, but now the simple formula of target plus toolbox plus setting is much more explicit. And the result of that equation has been a good time for all the family.
We’ve got some more information on the size of Hitman episode five.
And the Elusive Targets, of which there have been nine so far, are the culmination of that experience. With their limited timeframes, no retry, ‘fail and it’s all over for good’ structure, they are Hitman at its most pure.
But of course that purity is only maintained if they truly are one-shot deals. While some have suspected that the Elusive Targets would be re-released when the season concludes (perhaps in the Hitman boxed version) IO Interactive have been adamant that once the window of opportunity is over – or you mess it up, you cack-handed twit – you’ll never have another chance to complete each of these missions.
That policy has now been reaffirmed by lead online designer Torben Ellert, but for another very good reason – because if we could play them multiple times we might start to spot the imperfections.
“Being able to replay them, they wouldn’t necessarily stand up,” Ellert explains. “I chose way early on that they were going to have some fairly bombastic accidents, so that they would be easier to find, so that they would be more memorable. But that means that if you’re really paying attention, you can hear [the characters] defaulting to their AI dialogue – for instance where they need to tell guards about stuff. But I only notice that because I can play them blasé.
“But if you’re sitting there and you’re thinking, ‘Shit he’s getting away!’, you’re not hearing the fact that he’s defaulting. You probably wouldn’t notice that during [fourth Elusive Target] The Sensation that the model who’s sick sometimes walks right through the middle of the bushes because his pathing is a bit wonky. So we make compromises to keep a production cadence based on the aspiration that I would rather have a few more more memorable targets and live with some wonkiness, and for that reason, I don’t think they would stand up. That’s why I oppose it.”
We like a man of principle, and we also like Elusive Targets being truly elusive. So may those that have come before now be forever lost, like tears in rain.