The best action doesn’t always include pure action games. The games of this genre have redefined themselves becoming a blend of action with adventure and stealth in order to target a larger audience. This year, the PC action scene has been troubled. The good expansion of Dying Light with The Following didn’t make up for what was to come. Rise of the Tomb Raider went full on graphics while putting some effort into the survival elements the reboot ignored, but all that effort was in vain as the game was leaking quality through a narrative full of holes and the obvious technical problems. Mafia III turned out to be a technical mess, launching with a 30fps lock and having the repetitive missions of an average MMO in the detriment of some quality features. Not even Dishonored 2 escaped untouched from the grasps of 2016’s bad releases, launching in a poorly optimized state despite overshadowing its top notch gameplay. And while most action games struggled with various problems, Watch Dogs 2 went quite unnoticed because the unstable foundation laid by its predecessor.
The surprise of 2016 is the game that many players were probably ready to overlook, mostly because of its questionable business model which was teasing players through episodic releases and time locked content. Agent 47 has returned from the lands of consolization in a game worthy of the legacy left behind by Blood Money. Against the odds, Hitman has delivered. The anthology style of releases was fitting with the theme more than anyone thought it would be possible giving those brave enough to purchase it more than enough time to deal with each episode at a slower and better pace. Each of these episodes are a masterwork in level design, gameplay opportunities and organic AI behavior that few other game manage to pull off. The assassination of a target is just a simple objective, the way it’s executed is up to the player and the options sometimes are limited only by the imagination. The developers have put all the possible tools at the player’s disposal including a progression system that opens up more ways of dealing with a target and the outcome is refreshingly entertaining. An episode can sometimes take less than an hour to complete for a competent player and more than 30 hours to master, exploring every nooks and crannies of the level as there are always ways to get creative.
Hitman is a spy game of gaining and maintaining false personalities to blend in a fictitious world inhabited by NPCs capable of making everything believable in such a way that each action have an unexpectedly realistic turn of events. It’s a game that can constantly surprise you with the attention put into design details and interactions tying into a much larger story than the missions show at first hand. The game cuts some corners on production value, but the final product is closer to what PC gamer’s expectations should be in 2016. Hitman’s requirements for an online connection might be an unnecessary nuisance, but the good graphics and sound design, the gameplay, the replay value and a fitting narrative are pushing Hitman next to its legendary kin, Blood Money. There are no reasons not to look forward for the game’s second season.