So, it's all over: seven months in the making, Hitman is finally finished and all episodes are released. From the heights of stunning Sapienza to the lows of crummy Colorado, it's certainly been a journey – but does Hokkaido end up being a fitting swansong to an excellent game or a bad note to end on?
We say, wholeheartedly, the former.
Hokkaido is an absolute corker, not just gameplay-wise, but visually, too. Set in a modern spa hotel retreat/private hospital GAMA – think the Austrian hotel in Spectre, just without the Daniel Craig quips and Richard Ayoade knock-off – on top of a Japanese mountain, it's almost idealistic. The pure white snow in the Zen garden, the breathtaking views of the nearby mountaintops, and the minimalist architectural style of the retreat all make Hokkaido an excellent place for Agent 47 end this season – and someone's life.
Your targets this time around are former ICA Chief of Operations and Providence (they evil shadow organisation rivalling the ICA) defect Erich Soders, who's having a heart transplant as 47 arrives, and Providence operative Yuki Yamazaki. If both survive, then Soders will leak a list of all ICA agents to Providence – the stakes are high, then.
The best thing about Hokkaido is that it feels truly different to the other levels, mainly thanks to KAI, an AI assistant who controls everything in the GAMA building, from what doors are opened to all of the surgical equipment. Since there are chips in every piece of clothing in GAMA, you'll have to steal uniforms in order to access different rooms, or else KAI won't let you in – sadly, 47's fetching kimono won't cut it. It may sound tacky and far-fetched, but it's actually an excellent addition – one more variable for you to take into account and therefore one more thing to keep you interested.
You're also not allowed to take any weapons or equipment with you at the start of the mission – though you can hide gear around the level once you level up enough – which makes things more interesting. With no coins to distract guards and no lockpicks to open cabinets, Hokkaido becomes much more about patience and stealth than other Hitman levels – always a good thing.
What's more, Hokkaido's map is one of the most interesting in Hitman. You start off in a luxury spa, with a sushi restaurant, thermal pools, and a general sense of calm and luxury. Go underground, however, and you'll find convoluted, bleak corridors, and high security. The hardest task is accessing the private hospital where Soders is located, though, and it's also the most tense part of the level, with everyone seemingly suspicious of your actions.
Kills are at their funniest and most creative in Hokkaido – 47 impersonating a yoga teacher is one of our top picks, as well as stealing the identity of a man who's undergone facial reconstruction to look like Paris' Helmut Kruger – but it also seems deeper and darker. The fact that Soders is unconscious and on the operating table during the entire mission makes Hokkaido seem the most morally questionable mission – is it really fair and right to kill a man when he's so helpless?
Still, anyone hoping for a conclusion to Hitman's story will be sorely disappointed, as the lazy cliffhanger ending asks more questions than it answers.
Hokkaido may not be the perfect grand ending that many Hitman fans wanted, but it's a nice swansong to signal the end of a successful experiment. Episode 6 is the most atmospheric and creative of the bunch, and is right up there with Sapienza as one of the game's best levels thanks to its design.