MISSIONS AWAIT: Hitman serves as a prequel to the other games in the series.
MISSIONS AWAIT: Hitman serves as a prequel to the other games in the series.

Hitman returns, bigger than ever

FOUR long years and a few inconvenient delays after the last game, Hitman is coming back, on a bigger scale than ever.

The upcoming title, simply named Hitman, has been developed by Copenhagen's Io Interactive, and serves as a prequel to the other games in the series.

Beginning 20 years in the past at a secret International Contract Agency (ICA) facility, we see Agent 47 get introduced to the world of contract killing through his long-time handler, Diana Burnwood.

As the game progresses, the origins of many of the series' hallmarks are revealed - during a prologue mission, in which 47 targets master thief-for-hire Kalvin "The Sparrow" Ritter, Diana reacts with surprise when the Agent puts on a disguise, revealing the famous mechanic was actually 47's invention.

Disguises have been a part of the series since the beginning, but sometimes they've really challenged the player's suspension of disbelief - it's never really felt right that guards in various missions wouldn't notice that one of their colleagues has suddenly transformed into a tall, ripped bald guy with a barcode tattooed on his head.

If you've managed to fool everyone with the disguises, the usual array of creative executions are bound to satisfy long-time fans.

In the first two prologue missions (which will make up the upcoming beta) played by The Independent at a preview event, we killed a chess master-turned-Soviet spy by having him ejected from a fighter jet, and silently garrotted a playboy before sneaking out of his party unnoticed.

Obviously, the game wouldn't be Hitman if these opportunities weren't there, but the sheer size of some of the levels makes them much more wide-ranging.

The first non-prologue mission takes place in a Paris chateau, where a high-profile fashion show is being hosted by Russian oligarch Viktor Novikov and former supermodel Dalia Margolis, both of whom are ringleaders of IAGO, a secretive group which sells government secrets to the highest bidder.

The level plays out inside the grounds of the chateau, and it's palpable just how big the environment is - everywhere, from the basement kitchens and changing rooms to the top-floor private quarters are all fully explorable, providing you've managed to don the correct disguise.

All of the modes are part of what Io Interactive calls the World of Assassination - they see players roaming around these open-world, sandbox levels, completing the "official" contracts but spending just as much time on the community-created content.

We'll find out when Hitman gets released for Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC on March 11. If you want to get an early look at the game, the PS4 beta opened on February 12 (February 19 for the PC.)


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