Wot I Think – Hitman Episode 5: Colorado

I killed a man by blowing up the smartwatch on his wrist. I 3D printed a mask of another man’s face in order to pass through a biometric scanner. Better yet, I carried around a single apricot the whole while.

Third-person assassin-’em-up Hitman [official site] is very, very careful never to openly laugh at itself, but allow it to be a silly game rather than a serious one and it’ll keep on giving. Its latest and fifth episode, set on a Colorado farm occupied by assorted militia, hackers and a guy dressed as Hipster Michael Myers, perhaps doesn’t have the wow factor of Paris or Marrakesh, but it does lean so hard on modern tech tropes that I half expected an objective to involve poisoning an e-cig or Snapchatting one of my targets. Laugh with it, not at it.

On the one hand, the exploding smartwatch and a 3D printer that makes rubber faces perhaps speaks to a game that’s finally running out of relatively plausible ideas for how to conceal an assassination with a faked accident. On the other, it speaks to a game that might just be thinking “what’s the furthest we push this without losing our poker face?” Such is the furrow-browed seriousness of Hitman that sneaking into an upstairs bedroom to 3D print what is effectively a Michael Myers mask behind the backs of a cartel of hackers all wearing black hoodies was a task I attempted with utmost grit and determination. The Hitman series at its best stealths a little Austin Power powers into its Bourne tone, and Colorado absolutely delivers on that front.

I don’t think I could say it was up there with latter-day Hitman’s most striking maps, mind. The fruit trees and hay barns and gutted farmhouses are certainly a change of pace from the glamour of Paris and the clamour of Marrakesh – this is deliberately a quiet, even forlorn place, rather than a bustling one. So, taken as part of what we will one day mercifully be able to consider as one complete game rather than a strung-out series, it works and it fits.

Taken only as this month’s episode, after a wait since the last, maybe it’s an ever so slight let-down – you go in thinking “man, what are they gonna do next?”, only to find that Colorado’s on the subdued side. There’s some lovely mountain scenery outside the play area, but you’re stuck behind impassable fences and restricted to what is in effect a military base on a run-down farm. Because the environment is less changeable than Hitman’s glitizier locations, it feels small, even though strictly speaking the landmass is probably equal to the other four chapters.

It’s also mostly private militia as far as the eye can see, and with all due respect to America’s murderers for hire, a legion of black flak jackets hanging gloomily around some sheds simply lacks the vibrancy of civilian streets. The counter-balance to this is that this is far more paranoid chapter than usual. Agent 47 will be attacked on sight from the start of the map (at least until you’ve unlocked various outfitting options by completing a few objectives), so total stealth followed by a costume change is paramount from minute one. Even then, many areas are restricted to certain uniforms.

My point being, you very rarely get to relax in Colorado. Someone’s always thinking about feeling your collar, and unlike some of the other maps, there’s almost nowhere to run away to if you get found out. The bastards are everywhere. It’s tenser and even more difficult than its predecessors as a result. This is much more of a pure stealth map. Sure, it has its big gimmick payoffs like face-printing and watch-sploding, but in the main this is more about caution than subterfuge.

Like I say, I think that’s going to work well come the day that we get to play a finished Hitman like a level-to-level traditional game, with its own ebb and flow, but taken in its own right it doesn’t feel as playful or ornate as other maps. Which is, I realise, a bloody strange thing to be saying about a mission with 3D face-printing in it.

However, I appreciate how different it is, how on edge it kept me. This is a game trying not to fall into formula. The tense, never tenser, could all go a bit Frank Spencer structure is probably going to offer some great things in terms of Hitman’s now-traditional drip-fed new contracts and elusive targets. Maybe we’ve had enough spectacle and bustling streets now: maybe purebred stealth challenge is a vital change of pace, and escalation.

Oh, I forgot to mention the apricots. You get to throw apricots at people this time. Or just carry one around for fun. Me, I like to roleplay that 47 had been told he didn’t have enough fibre in his diet, and is trying to address the problem even while working. Fingers crossed for an elusive target with a fatal allergy to apricots.

Hitman Episode 5 (and 1-4, for that matter) is out now.

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  1. Premium User Badge

    gritz says:

    Now I’m disappointed at the lack of vape-based murder scenarios.

  2. Jediben says:

    More than any level, going Commando is a real pain in the associated here. Very few bads carry pistols which means you have either got to use the silenced rifle from the earlier mission unlocks, or go loud from the word go. Took me a good hour to clear the place and there is very few bottlenecks

    • DuncUK says:

      You might want to try wearing more comfortable trousers.

    • Premium User Badge

      Vandelay says:

      Going commando? But where will 47 stuff his apricots!?

    • Talidan says:

      If you absolutely feel the need to kill everyone and don’t care how cheaply you do it, the best I’ve found so far is from the bathroom in the little barracks under the water tower. Throw a couple assault rifles in there so you have some ammo, then start shooting. Most will come running, leaving around 20 of the ~150 enemies searching the map, and then pick off the rest.

      You can go total commando and run around the map to kill everyone, but it’s definitely more difficult. The key then is to keep on the move, because you’ll get surrounded most of the time. Start around the perimeter, work your way inwards.

  3. Bent Wooden Spoon says:

    Fingers crossed for an elusive target with a fatal allergy to apricots.

    No need for an allergy – given apricot kernels contain amygdalin they’re plenty toxic on their own.

    There’s actually a decent chance you might be onto something there.

  4. polecat says:

    Are RPS going to look at all of these? I’m not sure what the right answer is to responding to a game chunking itself up into tiny bits, but the excess publicity the publishers get feels weird. To take an extreme example, if Portal had been released level by level, RPS wouldn’t and shouldn’t have reviewed it on the same timescale. Have RPS developed a sophisticated world-leading algorithm to help them judge the critical mass of chunkings which tips them into wotithink-worthiness? I bet they have.

    • April March says:

      What do you think the Hivemind Throbometer is?

    • woodsey says:

      You can buy the levels individually, so yes, it does make sense.

      • polecat says:

        On that level sure it makes sense – and I understand there are people who want to know about the new content. My point here is that the levels are an unusually small unit for release which to me makes this all feel like a gratuitous marketing tactic. RPS are responding to this tactic in a neutral and informative way, but they must have been tempted to avoid living up to the publisher’s obvious marketing strategy of getting sites to discuss the game many times over.

    • Raoul Duke says:

      I 100% agree with you and have posted similar. But apparently RPS is determined to reward this ghastly marketing ploy by giving separate coverage to each and every level they release, both in terms of a news article about how it’s about to come out followed by a review of it.

      I find this, and certain other articles (e.g. continual articles about new Street Fighter characters) very odd given the overall tone of this site.

      • BBJoey says:

        it’s about ethics in video game journalism, then

      • padger says:

        I am sure they look at things that traffic well and then give them extra coverage. And I say that without any judgement or implication: these sites run on advertising, they need to generate pageviews. RPS seems to be particularly good at that without being horrible, so I am fine with pointless additional Streetfighter news.

      • Alice O'Connor says:

        We’re in the pocket of Big Apricot and The Man from Del Monte, obvs.

        Hitman is a game people are interested in, that people are playing, and that people are enjoying – RPSfolk included. Why shouldn’t we write about it? Other than to get a break from your tedious complaints, obvs.

    • Samuell says:

      I for one really enjoy reading they’re reviews of the episodes, since I play the game. I don’t really think there’s more to it. Why shouldn’t they review it? It probably doesn’t take nearly as long to review an episode as a full game.

      The “episodic = marketing scam” is getting old. When you buy all the episodes of HITMAN (which I have done) you still end up paying less than the average AAA game.

  5. April March says:

    I used to think, for the longest time, that in Wraith Pinned to the Mist instead of “let’s pretend we’re in Antarctica” the line was “let’s pretend we’re in an apricot”.

  6. Banks says:

    I have to admit this is the level I liked the least but It does it’s own thing and I had a fantastic time with It.

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