Really, I should have foreseen this coming, looking back at this it becomes increasingly obvious that he would betray us. Twenty years ago, I spurned him, showed him that he couldn’t keep me from my goal no matter how hard he made the tasks set before me. Diana knew it too. Erich Soders, what a worthless excuse for an assassin, a man who had spent the last two decades and most likely longer living in the glory of achievements that professionals like myself had long since surpassed. That mess with the training exam, did he really think that would stump me? What did he think was going to happen? And now it’s my turn to return the favour, seems our old friend has been selling secrets to Provident and the board just can’t stand a mole. It just isn’t cricket. The elimination order was issued to us and for the first time in a long time, I may savour the kill this time…
Here we are, the final stop (for this season at least). The road to Hokkaido has been a long and bloody affair for 47 and at every turn it has provided me with a great sense of enjoyment. For the grand finale of the first season (for there must be more and we will discuss that later) IO Interactive have taken things to the snow topped mountain hospital of GAMA in Hokkaido Japan! Now I personally love Japan so I was already game for the setting and it worked so well. This time instead of obscure bio weapons makers or rogue generals the ICA has sent 47 on a housekeeping mission. Seems our old buddy Erich Soders has been up to some shady business and has been selling ICA secrets to Providence. As stated in the above the ICA board of directors just can’t tolerate a mole in the organisation and so Soders must be taken care of. And who better than his favourite trainee, the wonderful 47. Revenge is a wonderful thing.
You must question Soders sanity here, I mean, selling out the most powerful contract agency in the world that happens to have 47 as their top agent? That takes some real mental gymnastics to see that as a rational course of action. The briefing for episode 6 did give us some coverage on why Soders betrayed the board though, seems he has a rare genetic condition called ‘Situs Inversus’ (if you’re into medical obscurities you can look at the actual condition here) which cleverly enough is the code name for this mission 😊 I see what you did there IO, smart cookies. The condition is also the reason for the location so the location like most of the episodes actually is tied to the targets in question and not just a pretty showing (although they are indeed pretty) Soders is in dire need of a right sided heart transplant which funnily enough is a pretty rare condition that only the GAMA hospital in Hokkaido can provide treatment for. Under the alias of Tobias Rieper (nobody is laughing at that pun) we must find and eliminate Soders before he can talk. You could say that the ICA has sent 47 to deal with the HEART of the matter for them (that was great, don’t judge). Being the man that he is though Soders is not going to be easy to get to and he won’t be alone as solo targets for HITMAN are a little bit too boring ad padding a mission for a single kill would mean double the prep work for the kill and some of 47s previous escapades have hardly been lacking in prep work to need the compensation. So, to give you a spot of side murdering you are also tasked with taking out providence agent and top Tokyo lawyer Ms Yuki Yamazaki. Yuki is a shrewd and deadly individual who has arranged for Soders to have the vital heart transplant he needs in return for a list of ALL active ICA agents in the world (go big or go home I guess) and now you see why the board has asked you to step in. can’t be having that information slip the net it’s Bad for business.
For this episode, I like to imagine 47 as a samurai on a mission from his liege lord (OK, OK, I know it’s cliché cos Japan but hear me out) sent to slay the traitor Soders and regain his lords (the ICA) honour. I mean 47 is a man with honour, dedication and loyalty and a world-renowned warrior not unlike the samurai of old. As you wander through the environment for this level which is both expansive and gorgeous you’ll pick up on some small things that really made the map special for the finale, for starters animations are flawless here and the bugs from previous missions (like that one time a guard in Marrakesh glitched halfway out the wardrobe and ruined everything) seem to have been worked out. Moving around the map is done at a bit of a slower pace than before but being honest that’s a good thing as you will want to spend time taking in the scenery here but we will be mainly looking at the only really important aspect of any hitman, the targets, the prep, and the killing of glorious douchebags! I set up the kill for the second target first, obviously as I wanted to savour the moment more with Soders. Yuki isn’t the hardest target in the world to kill if I’m honest the issue with her comes in the environment and the AI, she likes to spend a lot of time in areas and around AI that will spot you outright and ruin everything. For instance, the hospitals director can see through ANY disguise you have since he handpicked all his staff and he spends a lot of time in the centre of the map near the small bridge and can see you quite clearly from further away than most enemies of his type can. So, I would avoid him or you will be in for a far tougher time. Back to Yuki though, I wanted to kill her with style (as you should because this game rewards a drive for it) and after some searching learned of the opportunity to poison her with sushi. I thought we were in Japan, she’s from Tokyo, sushi HAD to be my weapon of choice (that sounds shady but it is a genius factor) so after getting myself some chefs whites and some dangerous fish I manoeuvred my way upstairs to poison the great Yuki with her favourite sushi dish. This kill from what I’d heard from others was hailed as a bit understated but I personally felt it was really rewarding, you must put in a little bit of leg and stealth work to reach the kitchen on the lower floor to get the fish poison and make it back and all that effort gets rewarded with her telling you how great the food is while you walk away and see her fall dead. It’s like watching the hero outrun an explosion in a movie. Another bonus of using the poison as previous episodes have showcased is that you can’t be identified from it. As soon as she dies you get no suspicion. As for Soders well I chose the only real way to kill him, the most savage opportunity which was to take from him what he wanted most… that new heart!
To get to Soders new heart you’ll have to take advantage of an opportunity that arises when you take the place of patient who’s recently undergone full facial reconstruction to look like our old buddy Helmut Kruger (the model from the first mission we ganked like a champion) after we move through the medical wing escorted by a doctor who is oblivious to our disguise so much so that she tells the guards to no take me through security! After she leaves us with the surgeon who removes our bandages and is amazed we have ZERO surgical scars or signs days after surgery (for the life of me I don’t know how this guy qualified as a surgeon). We need him though and proficiently proceed to knock him out ad strip him naked. This disguise again allows us into more of the restricted areas with no security checks because apparently surgeons are above security protocol in outside the law medical facilities. Well done GAMA. Once in the restricted area though you can manipulate the head R&D doctor to gain access to the ‘Vault’ where we will find Soders new heart and like the badass that 47 is you witness him take it in his hand and in one swoop crush it. You’ve eliminated Soders in the cruellest manner possible and never even had to get near him! If that’s not HITMAN I don’t know what is.
So, after all that and before we discuss the cinematic and what a beauty it is we have to look at one thing that really bothered me about this episode despite it being a real corker… the entire series this far has been building up the reputation of one man, this ‘Shadow Client’ who has been controlling 47 and the ICA from the shadows and who through several cinematics we KNOW has a link to agent 47 and is from his past! So … with that being said … where the hell is he?! this isn’t to demean the value of Soders as a prime final target but the big finale outside of the cinematic gave us nothing that really advances the plot. The Shadow Client doesn’t get mentioned in dialogue, he’s not a target, he’s not in the briefing or the location? I was really hoping for some kind of confrontation and I know this guy is going to be the driving force of the plot in the next season but you can’t just build him up through all those episodes and make me work so hard to get snippets of him and then at the end just forget he even exists? It’s kind of frustrating that he only really gets a mention in the end scene. A mention, I’ve got questions that need answers damn you guys!
In terms of the cinematic I felt this one was a real cracker and challenges the Colorado cinematic for my favourite of the series. 47 is not involved this time but instead we get a focus on Diana. The scene is a train ride in which Ms Burnwood has her identity exposed by a mysterious man who rather quickly makes his employers identity public knowledge as Providence! The organisation that tried to buy the ICA agent list (and the cop out Illuminati *still salty about that*) have decided to crawl out from under whatever rock they were hiding beneath to of all things strike a deal with the ICA… seems they have a rather sizeable interest in the shadow client being a dead client. Diana of course laughs this request off the table but then we get the kicker, Providence did not come to this meeting without leverage and they have some good stuff too. They supply Diana with a picture and tell her they will be partners for now, the picture is something very important and very juicy, it’s a boy, a very young boy. One we know in fact … it’s 47! Seems Providence know the truth about our man here and PAINFULLY that is where the season ends! Diana has the photo, a partnership she didn’t want and the shadow client is still chasing 47 across the world! It’s a great cliff-hanger that despite my issues with the lack of the shadow client in the finale it redeems it for me because it does what a cliff hanger does best and leaves us with more questions than we get answered.
Now, for my own grand finale! Instead of just covering the current episode I’ll try to take the season as whole. HITMAN season 1 has been so different than I expected it to be. When Square Enix took over IO I was not all that impressed and I spoke out against the usage of episodes in games like this (I still maintain they don’t really work with the style of action games) BUT I must admit that the episodic nature of HITMAN really won me over in terms of the story. Had I played this as one game I would have found the story to be totally unrewarding, boring in fact and it would have soured my opinion for HITMAN redeeming itself in another season. The games got great variety in maps, targets, equipment (the lack of an upgrade system still sours me a bit) and it seems to fit nicely into the segmented package. Clearly the story overall is a puller, it’s got just enough to keep you coming to the next episode and always leaves you wanting that bit more! The ending SCREAMS a second season so those that did enjoy this series will be getting more of it in future and with IO pulling the reigns again for themselves we are guaranteed to get that quintessential HITMAN experience again. Now saying all that the series is not without its faults. Some of the targets are pretty weak in terms of requiring the attention of 47 and some of the assassinations like in Thailand can leave the player feeling really underwhelmed and lacking the achievement for the kill. I have to note the lack of the Shadow Client in the finale as a negative it’s just too blatant a missed opportunity for me. Is this the return to the blood money experience that we the fans wanted, no. but I tell you what its closer than you would think looking at it from a glance, HITMAN has a beautiful hidden depth to its short length episodes that allow you to keep coming back for more and savour the kill all over again. Is this series perfect? Nah, but it’s bloody good all the same and well worth the afternoons to play it 😀