Spoilers to follow.
The new episode of Hitman dropped yesterday, and I’ve played it fairly thoroughly. This is the first mission that is motivated directly by events of previous missions. After the events of Bangkok, Agent 47 is tasked with tracking down a shadow client who has been arranging the intel for the previous missions, bringing him to an armed militia in Colorado. 47 is led here due to ICA tracing a hacker (who herself is a fascinating character though we only meet her in the cut scenes that bookend the mission—hopefully we’ll get to know her in Japan).
Colorado is a mission with four targets, as well as an additional objective at the end. Unfortunately they’re somewhat more forgettable than previous targets. Sean Rose, terrorist turned insurgent, is ostensibly the “main target”, but his character is summed up as “stereotype of ocd”. There’s also a Michael Myers character who wears a mask and tortures a guy, but we don’t see him do much beyond using drugs to interrogate his prisoner. The other two targets are both women, one of whom trains insurgents (basically she acts like any hard-ass drill sergeant type) and the other of whom we don’t really get to know very well—she was a counter-terrorist analyst for Interpol who seems to have switched sides.
More interesting than the cast of characters is the environment we find them in. Pallete wise it’s a lot of grey and brown, but the rural filth fits the idea of an alt-right militia rather well. You get the sense that this is a place with people who would try to assassinate a senator as quickly as they would get into a standoff over a new tax on fertilizer. As Heather Alexandria pointed out, an npc waxes poetic about a Donald trump candidacy, and it fits the rickety but well-armed compound well. Where Paris and Sapienza used their environments to increase the glamor and depth of its targets, Colorado seems to use its targets to highlight the disconcerting character of its map.
The challenges meanwhile, seem determined to make you question the route you’ll take through the map. There are no “any outfit will do” riegons of Colorado, you either have to maintain total stealth or find the appropriate attire for each area. Likewise, there is no disguise that lets you roam the map freely. What this means is that you will have to either plan out your mission or remember where you left disguises and backtrack to them. And as two of the most appealing challenges require taking down all four targets through similar methods (poison or accidents), you’re forced to think about the order of your actions. If you kill target a with a poison syringe, will you be able to find another? If one target drops a poison vial, should you take them down first? Aimless wandering will produce results, but they’ll be some of the most boring assassinations.
Opportunities take a shift in this mission. While they’ve become steadily more difficult through the episodes, it’s safe to say that many of the opportunities in Colorado are more difficult than a free form assassination. One which requires you to trigger Sean Roses OCD is nearly impossible to do silently—two guards who will see through the only disguise permitted in the room are really hard to get around and you’re given very few angles to throw distractions at them. Another gives you a clear opportunity to kill a target, but mere seconds to hide the body before a guard (who again can see through your disguise) strolls in. I managed to get silent assassin on my first run of the summer bonus episodes and Bangkok, but I didn’t have a chance with Colorado.
As far as whackier assassinations go, Colorado tends to disappoint. Some of the accidents are entertaining, but there’s none of the dancing we saw in Marrakesh or Bangkok’s tuk-tuk fire. That said, at this point in Hitman you have enough goodies to make your own whacky assassinations—a not-iron-man doll that’s a proximity explosive and a machete can provide a lot of the zaniness that Colorados assassinations seem to be missing.
The final part of the missions consists of entering a storm shelter—it’s alright, but lacks the thrill of destroying sapienzas virus. The shelter is blocked by a face scanner which you can get past either by dragging Sean Roses body up to or by using a 3D printer to get a facsimile of his face. Dragging Rose to the door is difficult, so this portion of the mission tends to be accomplished the same way every run.
The thing that impressed me most about Colorado was the high level of immersion. The use of English as the lingua franca of Hitman finally makes sense and the rural scenery, old mansion and repurposed barn fits how I might imagine a formidable American terrorist compound to appear. Likewise the emphasis on routing and planning puts you in the cerebral headspace of Agent 47, a character who seems to think through every step methodically rather than stumble into clumsy kills.
Generally speaking Colorado is a penultimate episode, it builds tension and ties the previous episodes together, getting you ready and hyped for the finale. It’s by far the most difficult episode yet, but the curve isn’t nearly as harsh as it was between Sapienza and Marrakesh—by now you’re good at the game and Colorado matches that difficulty more than it challenges you to improve the skills you’ve already built up. In television terms this would be more of your standard pre finale than Breaking Bad’s Ozymandias. The episode feels designed to prime the player for a big finish, using their skills to take down a complex puzzle of a mission that keeps you thinking, but it doesn’t wow you in the moment. If you take it on these terms, it does its job spectacularly—it’s a fun episode on an interesting and immersive map, that leaves you itching to see the stories conclusion. But unlike the other episodes, it wouldn’t seem that great as a standalone $15 title—the targets aren’t interesting enough nor is there enough of Hitman’s signature freedom to be stern or whacky for it to stand on its own two feet. As part of an ongoing progression of missions, it’s a great time, but it strikes me as just a bit mediocre in isolation.