Episode 3 of Hitman brings us to Marrakesh, a thousand year old city in Morocco, where a political uprising is taking root. Its central marketplace is bustling with crowds of people and vendors selling rugs, lamps, food, and more. Agent 47 has arrived on the scene to eliminate two key figures in a conspiracy against the Moroccan government: private banker Claus Strandberg and army General Reza Zaydan.
One of the first things to notice is how busy the marketplace is, with huge crowds of people gathered in all areas. A good hour can be spent walking around the main bazaar area and simply taking everything in. This busy area is much different from the mellow, seaside town of Sapienza, which was seen in the previous episode. While Sapienza felt alive with people eating at cafes and hanging out on the beach, Marrakesh is a chaotic and fast-paced city. With that being said, it captures the essence of a downtown marketplace perfectly.
It has never felt easier to blend in than in Marrakesh, as Agent 47 weaves through the massive crowds, gathering intel and observing the environment. Visiting each of the market stalls is rewarding, as there is a lot to take in. Some of these set pieces feel “reused” throughout the marketplace, but they are quite detailed, with a variety of different rugs and lamps. The marketplace is a central location, surrounded by intricate alleyways, shops, a military-occupied schoolhouse, and a massive corporate office building. As with the two previous episodes, this open sandbox offers many different routes and means to accomplishing the end goal of assassination.
Episode 3’s main mission “A Gilded Cage” finds Agent 47 inside a public area, where crowds have gathered around televisions to watch a news report about the protests occurring down the street. This marks a tonal shift in this iteration of Hitman. Previous episodes have taken place in more formal environments, with the fashion show in Paris and a crime lord’s beautiful villa in Sapienza. Marrakesh is in the middle of a political uprising, with protesters gathered outside the Swedish embassy, who have been embezzling money. Soldiers are posted everywhere throughout the downtown area and tensions are high. Things are much more political, gritty and serious in Episode 3, but also a lot less fun.
All of the major objectives require getting past military personnel or high-level security, which brings the difficulty level up a notch. Greater strategy will be needed to gain access to these areas, but it involves a frustrating and repetitive process. Incapacitating people and using their clothes as a disguise proves to be far more difficult due to the amount of observers around. I found myself constantly reloading saves (which takes about 30 seconds) because I could not seem to avoid being spotted during takedowns. There are very few isolated areas to work in, which can lead to a lot of waiting around and aggravation.
In Paris and Sapienza, one of the highlights was observing the people in their natural environments. Each area felt alive, with people conversing, working, and talking on the phone. Marrakesh feels much more inauthentic, which is largely due to the horrifically inaccurate voice acting. It seems like the folks at IO Interactive and Square Enix only have access to a limited number of voice actors and they’re all inappropriate given the setting. Each one of these “Moroccan” citizens are voiced by an American or British voice actor, which feels so out of place that it’s distracting. It takes away from the immersion and feels downright wrong.
“Opportunities” are once again the primary means of gaining access to restricted areas and individuals. A news team is scheduled to do an interview with Strandberg, which is a chance to get up close and personal with one of the targets. Impersonating the camera man will get right where you need to be and also learn more about Strandberg’s political ideals throughout the interview. There’s a wide range of ways to eliminate your target, but some are more fun than others. A bomb can be planted in your camera, you can drown him in the toilet while he’s taking a leak or even drop a taxidermied moose on top of him from the ceiling. Another classic Hitman technique is to disguise yourself as Strandberg’s personal masseuse. Of course, a silenced pistol to the head is also always an option.
Different scenarios can be triggered under the right circumstances. Through a series of steps, a low key meeting can be arranged between Strandberg and General Zaydan, which allows you to eliminate both at the same time. Both targets are located on opposite ends of the large map, so taking them out one at a time will be a lengthy process. Zaydan, surrounded by elite military forces, can be quite a difficult target. He will be interrogating a prisoner, who you can impersonate and catch Zaydan by surprise. In a very amusing scenario, Mr. 47 drops a toilet through a hole in the floor right onto Zaydan’s head.
Episode 3 doesn’t lack any more content than the previous episodes, but it is a step below Paris and Sapienza. Terribly out-of-place voice acting and an overly serious tone make Marrakesh a boring place to be, even with all the options it offers. While the core gameplay is still nonlinear and solid, there are certain unnecessary obstacles that make it much less fun. Players will likely feel less inclined to replay this mission as much as the previous two. It certainly isn’t bad, but it feels like a step back for the episodically-released Hitman.