The quiet, picturesque Italian seafront town of Sapienza is a retiree's dream. Bathed in sun, the cobbled streets are full of cafés, trattorias, and street performers – not to mention the diamond blue sea, and the quaint old church that sits next to it. How strange, then, that for all its serenity, Sapienza works exceptionally well as an environment for Agent 47 to do his dirty deeds – while also hiding the dirty deeds of the scientists and locals residing there.
See, the aim of the egghead's mission this time around is to take down Silvio Caruso, a bio-engineer that's working on a deadly virus that can be contained in a bullet, threatening 47's – and The Agency's, for that matter – whole existence. Along with that, you'll have to destroy said virus, residing under Caruso's beautiful mansion, and kill his lab head Francesca de Santis just for good measure.
Right from the get go, Sapienza feels like the ultimate Hitman mission. Sitting on a bench in a smart shirt and Italian shades, 47 looks like the typical James Bond-esque spy – just with less of the charm and more of the killing. There are plenty of new weapons for you to get your teeth into, including a more powerful sniper rifle, as well as plenty of unlocks as you level up, all which can be used in previous missions, which adds some value.
What's surprising – and perhaps, what's best – about Sapienza is how the deaths and kills seem brutal, a juxtaposition to the surroundings. You can push your targets off cliffs, drop them into shredders, or strangle them and throw them into the sea, and even when you're caught, the general relaxed atmosphere never seems to change. In one instance, when we positioned 47 behind a wall to hide from the heat, a tourist came by and asked us if we were searching for coins. It's those little moments that make so appealing.
The Opportunities hide some of the best moments you can have on the map, too: whether it's cartoonishly cool (two hairdressers talking about a private detective hired by de Santis) to the funny (a kitchen assistant failing to wake up for his first day at Caruso's mansion) to the downright dark and depressing (a scientist in a confessional booth at the church, repenting for the death of a colleague). The latter Opportunity is arguably the best because it reveals almost another layer to 47. Sure, he knocks out people and steals their uniforms, but has he gone too far when he steals a dead man's clothes from a morgue and assumes his identity?
As well as moral questions, Sapienza has a chock load of replayability thanks to its 75 plus challenges, new Escalation missions, and a fresh PS4 exclusive 'Sarajevo Six' contract set in the level. Hitman has always been about trial and error, successfully completing a mission, and then finding a better or more exciting way to do it; Sapienza lives and breathes that ethos. Thanks to the much-improved loading times – they still are a tad too long, though – and the ability to instantly reconnect to a mission if you lose connection, restarting missions now feels more seamless, too, and much less of a chore.
In some ways it's a shame that Sapienza wasn't Hitman's first mission. With its excellent world-building, well-worked atmosphere, and beautiful setting, the sleepy coastal town is one of the best Hitman missions in recent memory, and it's quality – and quantity – of content should convince most to quit waiting and spaghett(i) this title already. Trust us, you don't want to look pasta this one.