Hitman – Bangkok Review (PlayStation 4)
When you think of Bangkok, you think of the neon-bathed urban nightlife and unique East Asian culture. In this newest episode for Hitman, a series that has thus far brought us fairly faithful dioramas of the countries they portray, you get hardly any of that. While you do get the highly detailed, labyrinthine map like in previous episodes, the overall location lacks the same life and vibrance of previous episodes. That aside, there’s still lots to do in this new map, as expected, and the enclosed nature of this new area does let all of the NPCs and events feeling much more interconnected.
This newest episode has Agent 47 traveling to Bangkok in order to assassinate the lead singer of an up-and-coming indie band suspected of covering up a murder. In addition to the man-bun-sporting murderer, his manager and perpetrator of the cover up is also a target of assassination. It should be said that even with just the short introductions for each mission, Hitman does a great job of painting each target as a villain worthy of assassination. Even when the target is someone as unassuming as Jordan Cross, the lead singer of an indie band.
All of this mission takes place inside of the Himmapan Hotel, a large and opulent space on the banks of the Chao Phraya River. The large enclosed space is as detailed and brimming with life as any previous space, but other than the front patio you’d be hard pressed to place this map in Bangkok at all. The secluded hotel doesn’t have any sort of defining features that would ever give off the feeling that you’re in Thailand. You start off on the patio and have ample time to take in the river and temple across from the hotel so there is some evidence of your location. Previous episodes did much more to create an atmosphere and landscape that spelled out very clearly where you were however so this just feels like set dressing rather than a real part of the country. Even Paris, which is the most similar map to this as it takes place almost entirely in a mansion, still feels like it takes place in France. Other than this design choice this map is just as visually pleasing as any other so far.
While this new map is pleasing to the eye, the opportunities and scenarios presented within it are less so. There are plenty of opportunities to eliminate your target in clever and interesting ways, but the vast majority of them only involve only Jordan Cross. This means that once you find an opportunity you want to follow and complete by killing him, a large part of the opportunities in the area are useless. This wouldn’t be so bad since it does add replay value to the map, but the fact that there are hardly any opportunities relating to your second target mean that you’ll be spending the vast majority of your time playing detective running around the map.
This is an incredibly crowded map, which is to be expected at this point from Hitman, but most of the NPCs in this hotel are employees and guards that only exist to impede your progress. Everywhere you turn there’s a different set of employees or guards gating your progress. All of these factors working together slow down the experience once you take out your first target, or, if you choose to take out Jordan Cross’ manager first, give the mission a fairly slow start. My progress was halted to the point that the first time I completed this mission I simply waited in some greenery, shot the manager and ran for the exit. This was after about an hour of running around searching for some kind of opportunity or way to distract him or nearby NPCs. It ended up feeling like too much of the mission was designed around one half of its objectives and that left the other half feeling empty and frustrating.
In short, while the Himmapan level is nice to look at and chock full of things to do, it's held back by a lack of defining features linking it to Bangkok and lopsided mission design. Exploring the map and learning the ins and outs of it is fun, but ultimately tedious. There’s more replay value here than in previous missions without elusive targets and escalation missions, but most of them do revolve one target which is very limiting. The scenario you’re placed in is definitely a unique one for the series however and it’s refreshing to go after an indie frontman rather than a tyrannical military leader or mad scientist. It does feel like a missed opportunity to have such an interesting concept relegated to a smaller enclosed space that offers less room for experimentation than previous missions. The Bangkok episode of Hitman feels like a step back in the context of its predecessors and is the weakest episode so far.
This review is based on a purchased download of Hitman, Episode 4 - Bangkok for the PlayStation 4.