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View Full Version : A Review, A Critique, & A Few Suggestions



MolonLave
14th Mar 2016, 19:23
Like so many others, I'm willing to rewrite this review to adapt to future improvements in the game, but until those improvements are made I cannot endorse it. I’ve completed every single hitman game to date with Silent Assassin ratings yadayadayada…incredibly passionate about franchise…blahblahblah. I’ve presently put 30 hours into testing the initial release of HITMAN 2016 six ways from Sunday, and have completed every challenge thus far (with the exception of the two escalaition and elusive targets challenges which cannot be completed at present.) So buckle up for a long ride. The following details comments, criticisms and suggestions regarding the game and are my personal opinion, though they also reflect and echo the opinions of others. I have produced mods and animations for many years so I’m familiar with the process required for many of the fan requested changes. Familiar enough to know that there’s no reason a fully funded company like Square Enix (SE) should have trouble implementing them.

To start off, Hitman 2016 is poorly optimized. It has nanny computer, preset limitations, for graphical settings rather than simply providing "recommended" graphical settings like everyone else. Even extremely high end gaming PCs had trouble running Hitman effectively and were locked out of graphic settings which normally wouldn't be a problem for them. If/when further optimization is achieved the game would look just fine. In its present state the graphic quality is passable but nothing to write home about on my $5000 PC setup, but is absolutely debilitating on most others.

Predictably upon launch there's an overabundance of bugs, some of which are major game breakers, preventing progress and ultimately wasting several hours’ worth of play time. For example: scripted NPC events getting stuck in loops, target NPC’s simply not reacting and remaining stationary in one location till holes burn through your monitor, bodies being torn away from the player and violently warping all over the place while dragging them and alerting other NPCs, and the list continues. However I'm sure all of these will be addressed and patched soon enough.

The unforgivable sins of this game begin with this nightmarish DRM **** that Square Enix is promoting. (You’d think they’d have learned from the mistakes of other major game companies but I suppose they need to find out the hard way.) The developers only told a half lie when they said single player would be available offline. However, misleading consumers and creating a false representation of your product is still a lie in my book. You can indeed play offline but you will not be able to access your save games, progress, rewards etc. as you have no local save file! So anything you unlock as you complete challenges will not be accessible offline, nor will any of your progress be saved. Additionally when their server crashes (as it seems apt to do) you are booted out of your game and cannot access your save or progress. Not everyone can afford 24/7 internet connections and fewer still can afford “good” internet. The expectation that an internet connection is required to play and save basic single player content is absolutely absurd. Personally I’m about to move to a locality where I’ll only be able to access the internet one or two days a month. Had I known there’d be this much misinformation about the game I would never have bought, let alone preordered it.

The second and more important unforgivable sin is just how far Square Enix went to mislead us the consumer. Let’s review some of their statements and compare them with the reality.

On their official FAQ Square Enix stated:

“Can I play HITMAN offline or do you have to be connected all the time?” to which they reply “You will be able to play the locations and missions offline. To play the live events, download updates or see things like leaderboards, you’ll need to be online.”
While this is not necessarily a lie, it is the biggest understatement of the year. Most players did not find out about the DRM and extent of the online only content until Square Enix’s servers crashed, booting them out of their games and preventing further progress. By this time most players had already gone past Steam’s 2hr refund limit. (However I am certain that even If you’ve gone over the limit Steam will still work with you to get a refund or at least downgrade you to the $15 package. There’s a business model SE should learn from.)

“Is HITMAN an early access game?”

SE says: “No. Early access can often mean something unfinished or unpolished. That’s simply not the approach we’re taking. All of the content we release live to our players will be complete and polished, whether that’s the locations and missions we release on March 11th, the live events or the locations and missions that we will release later in 2016. It will always be a polished Hitman experience.”

Don’t kid yourself. If this is polished I’d like to see how well they’d spit-shine 47’s shoes. Despite what they say, I’ll call a spade a spade; it is an early access game and that’s being optimistic. I currently own several "actual" early access games which are much more polished and feel "finished" compared to Hitman 2016. The pessimist would say this is just the kind of quality we should expect from the developers and if they consider it either complete or polished, well then things probably won’t be getting any better now will they. The sheer quantity of bugs, lack of improvements from the beta, episodic nature (which I have no problem with provided it gets the necessary attention from the dev team) and severe lack in optimization all point to this either being early access "Beta level" or just a bad game. You decide.

SE says: “Now, we’ve always said we won’t put anything out until it’s ready. That means what we release has to hit the quality level you have come to expect from a HITMAN game.”

*Laughs.*

SE says: “As we’ve said before, we want to shape the game with the people playing it and by going down this route we believe we’re creating the best possible base for success. We will be able to respond much faster to feedback, analyse player behaviour and implement changes on a regular basis that simply wasn’t possible before.”

Well we haven’t heard anything from them yet but here’s hoping. They're probably still defecating their pants from the initial outrage about having their heads so far up their own anuses… I must say they seem remarkably detached with their fan base and backers, giving this the appearance of a major scam and cash grab. That said, if they actually listen to the feedback from fans and start giving us updates, the episodic nature of the game could make the finished product all the better.

The third unforgivable sin is that SE invested in a brilliant marketing campaign to hype the game and collect funding. This money would have better been spent on making the initial release actually presentable. If the product is good, let it speak for itself. The hype train will snowball as word of a good product spreads. Unfortunately that’s not the case. Instead SE is learning the hard way about woulda, shoulda, coulda, and furthers the impression that this is all just a major corporate cash grab.

The last unforgivable sin is that, based upon interviews with the developers, their interaction with fans on the forums, and the shoddy nature of the overall product, there seems to be very little passion amongst the dev team to make this the good game everyone has been expecting. While they spout their passion for it left and right, it always seems like that passion is not genuine and only part of the massive marketing campaign. C’mon SE give 47 some real love, he’s worked hard over the years. At the very least they could sell the franchise to people that will give it the attention it deserves.

Now that I’m (mostly) done with my anti-SE business model rant, I’ll talk about some of the games content. All negative aspects aside, the game shows promise if they actually make some drastic improvements over the next few months. I'm particularly focused upon the bad because I desperately want this game to be improved. If SE takes the time to heed its fans and expands upon the present build, I’m sure this will become a fantastic game.

CONTENT REVIEW:
At the moment there are two tutorial stages, three escalations which offer five stages of increasingly difficult challenges, and one actual mission which is the Paris Showstopper. All of these can be completed in two hours or less however more time can be spent discovering all that the levels have to offer as well as creating and playing in contracts mode which is slightly improved from that of Absolution(though you still can’t tag targets from a distance or through a scope to make sniper missions.) At about 5-8 hours I’d completed every challenge and unlockable as well as played every featured contract.

At about 15 hours I was really struggling to stay interested in anything the game had left to offer at the time. This is in part because there’s presently no real incentive (i.e. customization, variety, or additional rewards) to keep playing after you’ve unlocked everything. Yeah there’s the leaderboards, but honestly, who gives a flying coital act about them. Several of the rewards from mastery challenges really seemed like things that should have just been part of the game from the start. Additionally, the mastery rating caps at 20/20 with additional challenges left incomplete, but offering no reward upon completing them. Each mastery rank unlocks some additional feature like an un-customizable pre-skinned weapon or starting location. It just seems odd to have so little content to unlock but I’m sure this will change.
I spent my remaining time creating contracts and basically testing the limits of the games mechanics. NPCs are still stupid drones (which frankly most of us like for this sort of game) and are heavily scripted. One frustration many folks have is that they only trigger events as you pursue their particular "opportunity" which discredits the whole “living breathing world” thing. Despite this, the events and triggered opportunities are still interesting albeit repetitive at times.

At the beginning of each mission you can determine: starting location, a hidden item location, one un-customizable handgun, two pieces of equipment such as fiber-wire, a coin, lock pick etc. and either the classic suit or tux (Plus the requiem suit if you preordered. *Oooo* it’s white, totally worth $60.) That’s about where the customization ends. Anyone that was hoping to trick out your tools of the trade like in Blood Money or collect weapons and disguises like in Absolution should prepare for disappointment. Games should usually improve things like this with their sequels not relapse. With any luck the developers will listen to the fans beseeching them to include weapon customization etc. However I’m skeptical that they’d pull a fast one like with Absolution, “Sure you can customize weapons and apparel, but you have to be online to do it.” (I predict them thinking.)


MECHANICS:
One really neat feature is how NPC’s react to bodies and odd circumstances. Rather than simply flipping out they investigate, contact a guard, and then go talk about it with their buddies or call home to their families etc. When a crime is committed witnesses will report the incident and describe the perpetrator to the authorities. Situations can escalate as NPC’s spread the word from one to another. There are however limitations to this system as often times a major firefight can take place without any lasting panic.

The gunplay and aiming feel a bit clunky, however the auto aim is subtle and incredibly helpful for reactive shooting (these settings can be toggled off if you wish.) Handguns behave well and feel good to use, as do shotguns. However the SMGs and Rifles are a bit of a nightmare and in need of a heavy rework. The sniper rifle is a sniper rifle, though rather under powered and without the breath holding time dilation provided in Absolution. Oh by the way, "point shooting" is gone. Yeah I know. It’s argued that it makes the game too easy but you know what? That was the point of purist mode in absolution. It’d be interesting if they included it with a tiered reward system for normal mode vs purist mode but I doubt such a thing is in the works.

Body mechanics are good. 47 looks fantastic and has natural movements. They seem to have fine-tuned the animations for aiming a bit, which I critiqued in Beta. Oddly enough there’s not as much blood, grit and gore as I’d have expected from this. I was expecting them to bring back blood trails from Blood Money etc. but alas nothing yet. NPC’s react to being shot well by stumbling and recoiling, however shooting them in the arm does not make them drop their weapon, and when they fall down either from being shot or punched in the face, NPC’s get back up almost immediately, giving the player no time to resolve the situation if there’s more than one NPC. It’d be nice if an injury system were implemented that caused NPC’s to have increasing levels of difficulty getting up based upon the severity of their injuries or how much damage they’ve sustained.

Despite the heavy scripting, there’s no shortage of accidents and opportunities waiting to happen which helps with situational diversity. This only helps so much with the currently available maps but that will change as the year progresses.


I suppose that overall my main complaint with the content is the lack in customization. I’d like to be able to choose previously unlocked disguises or at least neutral costumes like the training gear, trench or long suit coats, additional suits etc. I’d like to tinker with weapon modifications or body armor. I want to choose whether or not a weapon is suppressed, has a scope, the type of scope, extended magazine, laser, different ammo and paint jobs etc. not have it preset for me. I’d like to carry an upgradable small case of multiple syringes, or cyanide hidden in cigarettes, and of course witness the return of the suitcase sniper. If they’re tired of using the old Walther WA2000 suitcase sniper and want to join the 21st century there are some wonderful options out there. See my weapon discussion here:

http://forums.eu.square-enix.com/showthread.php?t=187816

As a note, I’m not sure who’s in charge of researching and designing the weaponry for this game but it’s some pretty all around shoddy work. For instance on their FMG-9 rip-off and KSG rip-off, the iron sights are loosely based upon Magpul MBUS sights however they are mounted on the firearm both backwards and reversed. On their Tavor rip-off, the sights are based upon Yankee Hill products and are only backwards but still, anybody can figure that out. Not that this will ever get changed but just an FYI to the devs, (who will probably never read this) the Tavor iron sights are actually built into the rail and fold down inside it for mounting scopes etc. putting additional iron sights on it is a bit redundant, but I suppose that's a reason for not sticking too close to reality.

I'm in favor of damage drop off over distance but not in the way it's presently implemented. The effective ranges should be extended quite a bit for certain weapons. It shouldn't take 12 shots from the silver baller (including head shots) to kill one guard from across a room, even a large room. Pistol damages at close range are just fine and I quite enjoy using each of them. Though the high capacity pistol (whatever it's called) could stand to be slightly more accurate. The accuracy of the AR15 needs to be increased with greater damage at distance if it's meant to be a 6.8 caliber, or reduce it's recoil and damage if it's 5.56. It's a bit tiresome to have the NPCs kill you with the AR15 from across the map when you're sniping. The sniper rifle should do much more damage at range. I'm sorry but even the lowest of possible calibers for that rifle would take someone down with a chest shot unless they're wearing some pretty heavy body armor, which no one on the Paris level appears to be, unless you'd like to argue that every single NPC is wearing $15k covert presidential armor under their clothes. The shotgun's are fine apart from looking a bit odd compared to their real world counterparts. The SMGs should not recoil as much and should have slightly higher damage and accuracy at close range but with the present damage drop off at increased ranges. Lastly, what the buggering wildebeest possessed them to make the ICA weapons that stupid blue? Cause it’s snazzy for screenshots with Barbie & Ken? If you’re going to design things as disgusting as those weapons at least give the player the option for multiple paint jobs or something, ANYTHING. Give me Blood Money customization already Damnit, and not that swill you called customization in Absolution!

More detailed weapon information and suggestions can be found in the link above.

*Ahem, moving on.

The level design is very well done. I don’t think they’re too small, I don’t think they’re too big. There are a few sections that feel a little too narrow in the sense of available opportunities but nothing drastic. I think it’d be really neat if one possible addition to the game were to add a neutral ICA Facility map like in the Hitman games of old (hearkening back to Hitman Contracts.) It could serve as a place where weapon customization and testing could occur much like the subway in Blood Money. This would allow the pre-mission planning interface to remain largely the same but still implement customization in a really neat way.


After having put my faith in Square Enix to produce a decent Hitman game, I'm very sorry to report that despite my optimism, I've little to no confidence that it will significantly improve in the coming months as people continue to defund it. I’m concerned that the growing outrage may result in lawsuits against Square Enix, as it’s been argued by some that they’ve actually broken laws in several countries. If this happens and continues to snowball we may very well be seeing the death of the Hitman franchise (which would likely be sold to bail them out and cut their losses,) as well as the decline of Square Enix. I certainly hope not since both Hitman and Deus Ex are all-time favorites of mine. That said I'm absolutely certain that I won't buy anything from them ever again (including the next Deus Ex title) if they maintain their current business model. I’d prefer they learn from their present mistakes and produce a worthwhile product, but the uncertainty will unquestionably prompt many long time Hitman fans to seek refunds on their preorders. However, hope springs eternal.

I strongly caution any that are thinking about purchasing this. It would be much wiser to wait until the full game is actually complete rather than gambling with the present catastrophe. However if you’d like to take that gamble in the hopes that SE is actually listening, that’s your business.

If, like me, you were gullible enough to preorder this game and dislike the business model SE is pushing, I’d urge you to request a refund. It’d be a shame to continue funding these game companies that seem to believe they still own something you've bought and paid for while simultaneously misleading, lying, and failing to deliver upon their promises. It could be said that Square Enix is playing us for suckers and laughing all the way to the bank. I wouldn’t want to let them get away with it but only time and positive results will tell us what their true intent is. Ultimately the removal of DRM will be the determining factor for me. If it is removed by next month then yay hooray and on to the next thing, but if not they’d better be damned sure that I, and at least half of their backers, will be doing everything we can to discredit them for wasting our misplaced faith. Making the case for a downgrade if not a full refund on premises of false advertising would be completely justifiable.

To the development team - Good luck and do your best. Despite the rantings and ravings of myself and other customers, we do actually like the direction of the game you've made and for that reason have become enraged about it's failings since we'd all like to see a quality piece of work. Customers can't help but feel cheated when their expectations of a product are dashed by corporate greed and bad business.

MolonLave
16th Mar 2016, 09:22
Edited.
Currently sifting through Square Enix's 2015 Annual Report to see if it yields anything helpful. If you're interested it can be found here:
http://www.hd.square-enix.com/eng/pdf/ar_2015en.pdf

MolonLave
18th Mar 2016, 00:11
http://forums.eu.square-enix.com/showthread.php?t=187806&p=2204835#post2204835

LukeSlade
18th Mar 2016, 20:37
Bravo! That was quite the review.

MolonLave
20th Mar 2016, 06:48
Thank you!







Link to detailed weapon thread.
http://forums.eu.square-enix.com/showthread.php?t=187816

DIEFROMTHECRABZ
20th Mar 2016, 08:31
as one whos had little to no issues with being disconnected, i personally am Very satisfied with the game.....and when i say Game, i mean the Package that i got for 15 bucks. the Paris level is MASSIVE in scale and fully interactive in ways iv never seen a Hitman level be interactive. infact, if they came out with Every Map As Its Own Separate Game for 19.99 EACH, i would buy atleast 3 of them, thats how impressed i am with the size and depth of these maps. i will not give a full Review of this game until the Italy map is released next month.....but so far, im Loving it.

the Only thing i think they should consider is a 24/7 mode for some of the maps. a mode where you can exist and save game inside the map and fight off waves of constantly spawning enemies and characters you can complete certain tasks for. this would particularly be desired in the Sapienza, Italy map since its kind of like its own huge vacation city. that level could literally end up being the greatest Hitman level of All Time.

Mr_Tobias_Rieper
22nd Mar 2016, 22:00
MolonLave,

That was amazing.

I have been holding out on releasing a similar post, which I still might do to add another voice to the cause.
But I think your post blows what I have written away.

Excellent review. Very well thought out and written.