Discover more from Toisto
Hitman: Freelancer is a superlative expansion of the franchise
★★★★ | Jerry rig everything: the movie.
When I first reviewed Hitman 3 back in 2016, I figured it was the last hurrah for our favorite bald assassin. After all, this was the culmination of the reboot trilogy, effectively bringing the story of Agent 47 and his handler, Diana Burnwood, to a close.
Well, jokes on me, I guess, since Hitman hasn't just endured, but expanded. Its latest update, Freelancer, is the next step in the behemoth World of Assassination the series now calls itself.
Set in the aftermath of Hitman 3, Freelancer sees 47 and Diana strike out on their own in the world of international contract killing. With it comes a brand new safehouse, a variety of specialty tools, and a roguelike mission structure that's both infuriating and hugely rewarding.
The main focus is on three-mission runs, where 47 must infiltrate and eliminate country-specific targets without fail, or else else the entire campaign ends as well. That's easier said than done, as most of these missions are just sprawling, elaborate, and challenging as anything in the main campaign from a few years back.
Part of the frustration comes from this sprawling nature that worked so well for the main campaign. Hitman's levels are vast playgrounds just begging for exploration. In the original, I spent ages trying and failing, often in hilarious ways, just to see what I could get away with. In Freelancer, a part of that is still there, but the risks are often far greater than the rewards.
For example, while the missions still reward specatuclar and off-the-cuff kills, now failures lead to much more drastic results. You can't save and reload after a particularly complex Rube Goldberg deathtrap fails. If you're caught or killed, that's that. Game over.
So your enjoyment of the tense, meticulous atmosphere comes down to what kind of a Hitman player you are. If you enjoy the forethought, the planning, and the perfect execution of a kill without any diversion from the plan, chances are you'll love Freelancer. If, like me, you're more about the gags, the playground, the failing and the revelations, you'll probably still enjoy it, but with far more reservations.
After all, Hitman is one of the best games out there, and Freelancer is more of the same. But it's a highly specific chunk of the same. Where Hitman was all about choice, Freelancer is the culmination of giving you the tools, honing your craft, and expecting the best.
It's a superlative game mode for those after a challenge. For others, it's still a great one, but probably not the kind of expansion of your dreams.