Alas, the long journey has come to an end. Hitman’s sixth and final episode finds Agent 47 infiltrating a highly exclusive hospital resort in Hokkaido, Japan. Having played all five of the previous episodes, this one feels concise and refreshing, especially in contrast to the dismal tone of Colorado. This iteration of the stealth franchise works best in beautiful, sleek environments, and the GAMA private hospital resort certainly feels modern and polished.
Lying down on a bed in a spa robe, Agent 47 stands up to begin another silent assassination in a crowded facility full of unsuspecting people. What sticks out most about this environment is how it combines traditional Japanese architecture with science fiction-esque medical labs. Exploring the facility also yields a beautiful Zen garden courtyard, a sushi restaurant, and hot spring. Environmental storytelling brings the player to the conclusion that GAMA is a state-of-the-art medical facility for the extremely wealthy. Its multiple areas and levels are full of detail and gorgeous scenery.
There are two targets this time around: Yuki Yamazaki and Erich Soders. A fairly traditional target for Agent 47, Yamazaki is a big time Yakuza lawyer who doesn’t travel without her two bodyguard escorts. Nearby NPC conversations offer more insight as to her role in the story. She recently won a televised court trial, using her ferocity and wits against the prosecutors. People noted how she had little mercy for any of the witnesses and seemed to love tearing people down in front of the camera. It’s a pleasure to take her down.
On the other hand, Erich Soders is a completely unique Hitman target, in the sense that he is completely immobile. Undergoing a life-saving medical procedure, he spends the entire mission on an operating table. For Agent 47, this isn’t a standard assassination which would require isolating Soders in a room or perhaps dropping a chandelier on his head. He’s in a modern operating amphitheater being kept under close watch by surgeons and doctors. A good disguise allows access to his life support system and dosages.
Hokkaido is actually one of the more “relaxed” missions in the game, with only a small security force and a minimal amount of attention being placed on Agent 47. Disguised as a “VIP patient” in a special golden robe, hardly anybody is concerned with his whereabouts. This allows for a good amount of freedom to check out the environment, which is architecturally sound and very detailed. Despite being quite large, it is concise and easy to navigate the various hallways housed within the facility. Similar to the underground top secret lab in Sapienza, GAMA has a very James Bond feel. These are the best set pieces in Hitman because they tell their own unique story and allow for interesting gameplay dynamics.
Opportunities are, of course, the best and most interesting way to access targets. In this episode, they feel much more natural than in Colorado, which felt almost like a chore list. Patients and doctors in GAMA have interesting back stories, strengthening the atmosphere as a whole. In one opportunity, you’re required to isolate and assassinate Yamazaki in the yoga room, which she has herself booked in for a full day. She probably wasn’t expecting Agent 47 to be her private yoga instructor, however. Gaining access to this area is quite difficult and requires a lot of wits. GAMA features an odd security door system, which is sectioned off by the outfit you are wearing and the symbol you are wearing on the back of your clothes. Since there is no equipment Agent 47 can stash in his robe, the player is forced to utilize the objects found only in the environment. It can take quite a bit of searching and calculating in order to make sure everything falls into place at the right time.
Another instance entails poisoning a specific type of fish (which is banned from the facility, apparently) that Yamazaki has personally requested. Food poison is a classic Hitman technique, but it is presented in a rather cunning way. Taking care of Soders requires a completely different approach due to his immobility. Additionally, he is a special case because he is actually a former ICA agent — the company that Agent 47 is employed by, for those who don’t know. One opportunity, entitled ‘Ghost in the Machine’, is a fantastic ode to Stanley Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. It entails shutting down the supercomputer K.A.I., piece by piece.
Hitman has been a mostly solid experience throughout the year, with only a few unsatisfying missions — namely Morocco and Colorado. Hokkaido is a glorious end to the game, featuring excellent level design and an interesting premise. It definitely holds its own alongside strong episodes like Paris, Sapienza, and Bangkok. Spend some time at the GAMA private hospital, observe the inhabitants, and eliminate the crooked and the traitorous.