Before we knew exactly how much game we were going to get with each new episode of Hitman, we weren't sure whether we were going to review the individual chapters as they released, but so far, with each content drop, we've had something different to say about the expansive murderous sandboxes that IOI keeps on concocting. And so here we are again, and having played the studio's latest offering - Marrakesh - once more we feel like picking up the pen (so to speak) and telling you about our latest adventure with the bald headed assassin.
We rather enjoyed the opening salvo, the training missions and a night spent in Paris, and absolutely loved our holiday in Sapienza. But now we're heading to pastures new, namely Marrakesh, the Moroccan city. This time around exuberance and absurdity (that in particular characterised Sapienza) is left behind. Instead this new mission is darker in tone, and edged with political intrigue. There's a banker holed up in the Swedish consulate after being sprung from an armoured convoy mid-way through his trial for stealing money from the Moroccan people, and at the same time there's a military man trying to instigate a coup d'état and sweep a fragile government aside. As we're told during our briefing, this web of deception is a political powder keg, and things are hotting up.
Naturally 47 - and by extension, you - is going to become embroiled in the events surrounding this double contract, but rather than setting events in motion and inciting a revolution, we're instead taking preventative measures, taking out the banker and his military benefactor, and stopping the aforementioned powder keg from igniting. It's a delicate matter, and it requires a scalpel, not a sledgehammer. Luckily for one and all, 47 is still the sharpest tool in the box.
Marrakesh itself is a hustling and bustling location. It's not as focused on internal space as was Paris, and it's more open than the winding town centre of Sapienza, and in that sense IOI needs a pat on the back for keeping the structure of their levels nice and varied. Looking beyond layout and structure, the North African setting means that there's a lot of visual differences too. It looks great, and there's a lot detail to be enjoyed across its various locations. The bulk of the map is taken up by a busy marketplace, but there's twisting alleyways that wind off into various smaller areas, as well as a vociferous protest outside the Swedish consulate. It's a sunny, dusty sandbox, and thanks to a strong military presence, it captures the mood perfectly. Perfectly, that is, except for one flaw.
There's no regional accents. Not in the marketplace, nor in the streets that sprawl away from it, from the soldiers to the shopkeepers - not a single one - sounds like a Moroccan. There's the odd Swedish accent in the consulate, but as far as we can tell, that's about it. Of course this was the same in Sapienza and Paris, but you can rationalise it in those cases (kinda), but here it feels really odd, and it put a dent in the otherwise carefully constructed atmosphere. It feels like you're walking through a movie set instead of a tangible place, even more so when random strangers talk to you and not a single voice sounds vaguely like it belongs.
It's not a fatal flaw, but it isn't great either, and it detracts from what is otherwise another excellent sandbox environment. Still, if you can look past that and concentrate on the positives, there's two great story assassinations to play through in A Gilded Cage, and both offer up plenty of interesting opportunities for experimentation (the Swedish banker in particular). There's also an Escalation contract that includes another five-tier mission that'll give you plenty of pause for thought.
On top of all that, since last we wrote about Hitman, there's been two one-chance Elusive Targets (one we didn't attempt, the other one eluded us - something that the game tells us every time we boot it up), and all told there's now twenty Escalation contracts available, which combined together offers a crazy amount of replayability. We've not even mentioned the player-generated missions, which bulks things out even further.
We'll keep things short, because mechanically Hitman remains the same and we've not much to add on that front. Marrakesh is yet another enjoyable sandbox to explore and play around in, and while it lacks the same feeling of authenticity thanks to a frustrating decision made regarding audio design, everything else adds up to equal another great content drop for fans of Agent 47.
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