Another month, another Hitman episode. The last episode took place in Sapienza and ended up being quite enjoyable for my taste. The question becomes, and always will be for each episode, did it satisfy me as well this time? Asking that question with each episode will be the curse we'll just have to deal with when assessing this kind of release model. Today I bring you Marrakesh in Morocco. A location not as surrounded by fashion and luxurious lifestyles as with Sapienza, but certainly just as hot of a temperature.
Your targets are private banker Claus Hugo Strandberg and Army General Reza Zaydan. Two targets in two quite fortified locations. Justifiably so, as you are warned that riots are looming in the city of Marrakesh.
Claus stood trial for investment fraud where he stole billions of dollars' worth of savings from the Moroccan people. However, he was freed by a band of mercenaries as he was being transferred using a prison transport. Taking refuge at his native Swedish Consulate, a mass of angry protesters has gathered in front of it, and they're demanding for him to be handed over to the Moroccan authorities.
The suspicion goes that Zaydan has orchestrated his escape with the intent on infuriating the public and causing nationwide riots. This makes the Rabat government appear weak and inept in turn, allowing him to persuade the General Staff to support a military coup. He operates out of a field headquarters at a nearby abandoned school.
A grand conspiracy, and you are tasked with preventing its completion through careful assassination.
The first thing that I took notice of was the vast size of the map. Bigger than Sapienza, the streets are packed with civilians, rioters, military and everything in between. Little shops adorn most of the streets and, as you'd expect, a mass of angry civilians have gathered in front of the Consulate. With this large playground come eight Opportunities to guide you through this mission and reveal angles through which you can gain access to the location of your targets and/or craftily murder them.
Now, not to reiterate too much what I said in my last review, but I do feel that again these Opportunities in combination with unlimited instinct makes the level very easy to beat. Not to mention having an unlimited amount of saves means you can save scum if you so desire. For added difficulty, custom contracts and Escalations make a return where saving and Opportunities are both disabled. This leaves you with just your Instinct to figure out a way towards your predetermined goal (read my first Hitman article for further clarification on these modes).
I have to admit; the Escalation mode does scratch that itch for a Hitman challenge that I have. Without saving or Opportunities, you'll be forced to be crafty and memorize your environment carefully. For example, being tasked to take out a target using fire means you have to not only find a location that can cause a fire but also find a way to get your target there. Believe me, fire barrels aren't plentiful in this realistic setting.
Does Marrakesh impress me? Not as much as Sapienza did. While the place looks bigger, it seems less complex when you dig deeper into the surroundings, requiring the setting and story to make it more enjoyable. Meanwhile, the plot continues, and I honestly still feel just as uninvolved with it as I did before. 47 and his employing organization are being used as a tool for a grander scheme, and I've yet to see the hook that makes it all tie together and make it more interesting. The final cutscene given after the mission reveals that there is an organization named Providence, and it considers itself under attack because of your assassinations. I would say more, but I'd consider that a spoiler.
Marrakesh is by no means a bad episode, but having two fewer Opportunities makes it harder to hide that it has less going on in the grander scheme of things. Paris felt like it had that similar issue, and coincidentally also had just eight Opportunities. Sapienza, a locale that impressed me a lot more, had ten Opportunities and had a whole underground lab available to toy with.
When I called it a playground, I believe it did aptly so, as this mission seems more fit to fool around in or challenge yourself (or be challenged) through Escalations and custom contracts. Beyond that, this episode hasn't changed much regarding mechanics or my other worries, including the typical gun unlocking treadmill and of course the DRM. It's no Sapienza, but I had fun roaming wild in this setting in any case. Maybe one of the following episodes can take place in a more chilly locale? I could go for another Bjarkhov Bomb.
This episode was reviewed on PC using a Steam key provided by the developer.
Marrakesh is a location rife with life, but disappointingly lacking in the same depth that Sapienza had. But in the end, still a worthwhile episode for the Hitman enthusiast.