This is the second in a series of reviews that cover the new, episodic Hitman game across most of 2016. Each episode will be reviewed and scored as it is released.

Check out Episode 1 here.

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THE SHORT VERSION


After the cold-toned mansion in Paris, Hitman uses more vibrant and thrilling locales for episodes that are mechanically solid but narratively shaky.



STORY


I've gotta be honest - I have no idea what the story of the new Hitman is anymore.


On the margins, it seems as if a grizzly older guy - who may be a former ICA operative, or is perhaps just a nutter with an
aptitude for murder - is after something being held by an
organisation called Providence. Though we keep getting cutscenes at the end of each story mission that attempt to convey the narrative, the game makes Agent 47 feel divorced from the larger plot going on around him by its alarming lack of focus within gameplay. Sure, one of the Paris targets might have turned out to be involved in the main plot during Episode 1's ending cutscene, but that felt more like a casual coincidence rather than a specific reason for 47 to go a-murderin'. 


Let's face it, you're not really interested in the greater story reasons for why you need to kill a corrupt bio-engineer in Sapienza and a coup instigator in Marrakesh, are you? Why should you be, when the game isn't taking the time to emphasise the story's importance to either 47 or the player?

As such, these cutscenes and the greater story of Hitman both feel vestigial at this point. Granted, things could come together with the remaining three episodes providing more narrative clarity, but look at it this way: we're now halfway through this season (first or no), and I'm still largely in the dark about what's going on. The game doesn't seem to want me to care about its story, given the absence of emphasis. With that in mind, both the Sapienza and Marrakesh episodes are narrative dead-ends that offer next to no engaging story.



GAMEPLAY


What they do offer, though, is some engaging gameplay.

Whatever the game's narrative shortcomings, Hitman is still a lot
of fun to play; the mechanics and game modes are largely the same as in the Prologue and Paris missions. All the previous stuff is now accompanied by a 48-hour contract mode called "Elusive Target", which locks the player out if they fail to kill the target once - the target also cannot be seen in Instinct Mode, and must be killed before 48 hours of real world time have elapsed. The novelty of the mode and its unique difficulty is countered somewhat by the frustration felt when you inevitably get killed (or, in my case, lose power to your apartment right before the crucial moment) and are therefore denied a second attempt, but I like it as a nice add-on to Hitman's overall package.

Otherwise, the episodes still have the problem of brevity and rely largely on replay value and used-made Contracts. Granted, the visually-stimulating new locales - Marrakesh in particular - are more fun to walk through a few more times over than Paris was, but replay value can only take a game so far.



VISUALS


Graphically, the game still relies on a high framerate and somewhat pared-down-detail character models. The punchy colours from the
beach resort of Sapienza and the bustling marketplace of Marrakesh really do the game a great service following Paris' drab fridge of a mansion, so at least your replaying of each level for Mastery points will be tempered by the backdrop being very, very pretty.

What's not a great service is the way eyesight factors into things; this'd probably cross over with Gameplay, but I'm putting it in
visuals because it's bloody misleading. More than a few times, I was infiltrating enemy outposts and doing a quick spot check to ensure the local security goons weren't letting their eyes wander over my lusciously bald head. Despite the fact they were looking away from me - at other guards, at the ground, at walls - I nonetheless got the immediate grayscale "Crime witnessed" message as I attempted my sneaky stealthing, resulting in several staggered foot chases and gun battles that were thrilling, action-packed and totally opposed to the notion of stealth entry. 

It seems unfair if the guards are going to have eyeballs in the backs of their heads, but the game's visuals fail to make that obvious. Hell, I'd've settled for there being a GoPro on the backs of their shirts as justification, instead of them just being psychic.



SOUND AND VOICE ACTING


Sound is still good, dialogue (besides David Bateson's) is still terrible. The latter is especially not helped by overacting in the
cutscenes, most egregiously in the "car backseat" confrontation at the end of the Sapienza episode. None of the NPCs are speaking anything resembling human banter with each other, which disrupts the game's immersion factor. If anything, the dialogue sounds more like off-cuts from an un-parodic and overblown No One Lives Forever rejected sequel script.



WRAPPING UP


I don't mean for the above to sound so negative, but on reflection I
know I come across as dispassionate about the whole Hitman experience thus far. I'm really enjoying it gameplay-wise; as I said in the first review, it's nice to go back to the organic sandbox feel of previous instalments like Blood Money as opposed to the linear railroad of Absolution. But there's little about it that pushes the boundaries of the franchise or its mechanics, nor is there any reason to be interested by what passes for story at this point.

If nothing else, after three episodes big on game but low on story, I'm asking why Hitman needed to be episodic to begin with. It's increasingly clear that a coherent story by season's end is what will make or break an otherwise enjoyable, if somewhat standard, stealth simulator. Hopefully the next episode - set in Thailand - begins to pull it all together.

- Chris







The second and third episodes of Hitman are available now for digital download on Playstation 4, Xbox One and PC.

Review copy kindly supplied to Geek of Oz by Square Enix.
What do you mean it’s almost July?! The year is flying by, so I thought i’d take this brief moment to look back on some of the cinematic highlights of the past six months. Hopefully you’ve seen them; if not, I hope you take the time to track them down. My top ten for the year are as follows:

1. Son of Saul
2. Steve Jobs
3. Carol
4. Anomalisa
5. Hail, Caesar!
6. Swiss Army Man
7. Paterson
8. Chevalier
9. Marguerite
10. Rams 


Please share your top films of the year in the comments below. 

- Stu 



Here's a list of everything i've watched at the cinemas this year: 

1. The Peanuts Movie
2. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
3. Tangerine
4. The Revenant
5. Sisters
6. Hateful 8
7. Carol
8. The Big Short
9. Steve Jobs
10. Hateful 8
11. Room
12. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
13. Sherpa
14. Spotlight
15. The Danish Girl
16. Brooklyn
17. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
18. Anomalisa
19. Deadpool
20. Zoolander 2
21. Steve Jobs
22. Deadpool
23. Deadpool
24. Ride Along 2
25. Hail, Caesar!
26. 45 Years
27. Triple 9
28. Son of Saul
29. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
30. Zootopia
31. The Vvitch
32. 10 Cloverfield Lane
33. London Has Fallen
34. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
35. Kung Fu Panda 3
36. Eye in the Sky
37. Labyrinth of Lies
38. Lady in the Van
39. Marguerite
40. Where to Invade Next
41. Rams
42. The Jungle Book
43. The Boss
44. A Bigger Splash
45. Sherpa
46. A Month of Sundays
47. The Man Who Knew Infinity
48. Midnight Special
49. Ghostbusters
50. Ghostbusters 2
51. Captain America: Civil War
52. Captain America: Civil War
53. Mia Madre
54. Alice Through the Looking Glass
55. A Month of Sundays
56. Bad Neighbours 2
57. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot
58. Green Room
59. Eddie the Eagle
60. The First Monday in May
61. X-Men: Apocalypse
62. The Nice Guys
63. The Meddler
64. Hunt for the Wilderpeople
65. TMNT: Out of the Shadows
66. The Nice Guys
67. Money Monster
68. Captain America: Civil War
69. Warcraft
70. Chasing Asylum
71. Born to be Blue
72. Patchwork
73. Cinema, Mon amour
74. Death in Sarajevo
75. Finding Dory
76. Free in Deed
77. Swiss Army Man
78. A Monster With a Thousand Heads
79. A Perfect Day
80. Julieta
81. Tickled
82. Mean Streets
83. Mekko
84. Weiner
85. It's Only the End of the World
86. Maggie's Plan
87. Mahana
88. Life After Life
89. I Saw the Light
90. Long Way North
91. Ten Years
92. Chavelier
93. The BFG
94. Letters From War
95. Our Everyday Life
96. Francofonia
97. Thithi
98. Paterson
99. Ants on a Shrimp
100. Michael Collins
101. Miles Ahead
102. My Revolution
103. Magallanes
104. Apprentice
105. Captain Fantastic
106. Mr Right
107. Mr Pig
108. Personal Shopper
109. Notes on Blindness
110. Life, Animated


After a brief break Stu and I are back this week with Episode 9!

This week we're doing things a little bit different and discussing all the film we've seen during the two week break.

Stu has been a busy bee and checking out films at the Sydney Film Festival. (Seriously he's almost been watching 3 films a day. Crazy)

While I was watching films on flight to Canada for work, and catching up on some Netflix in my downtime.

As always it would make our day if you could take a couple of minutes to rate and reviews us on iTunes or drop us some feedback below! Really keen to have your input in the show.

Enjoy!

-Billy


                                      Get it from Podomatic here

                                            Get it from Itunes here



Before Warcraft: The Beginning comes crashing into cinemas, here's your chance to have a sneak peek behind the curtain at how the filmmakers and cast brought this huge world to life. Warcraft: The Beginning hits cinemas across Australia on the 16th of June. Stay tuned for Billy and myself to review the film on an upcoming episode of our new podcast We Like To Watch.

Are you excited for Warcraft: The Beginning?

- Stu

Paula Patton kickin' some ass



Meeting Orgrim The Defiant



Directors vision - Duncan Jones



Producer Chris Metzen reacting to the sets










Episode 8, and this week Stu and I walked the Green Carpet at the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out Of The Shadows (TMNT2) Sydney Premier.

Out Of The Shadows is the second film in the new TMNT film franchise and is directed by Dave Green (Earth to Echo).

The film stars all your favourite characters from the first film as well as new villains and allies in Bebop, Rocksteady, and Casey Jones.

As well the film Stu and I discuss what else we've been watching this week, including X-Men: Age of Apocalypse, and discus the latest in movie news.

As always it would make our day if you could take a couple of minutes to rate and reviews us on iTunes or drop us some feedback below! Really keen to have your input in the show.

Enjoy!

-Billy


                                      Get it from Podomatic here

                                            Get it from Itunes here





Episode 7, and this week Stu and I watched Hunt for the Wilderpeople. 

Hunt for the Wilderpeople is a comedy written and directed by Taika Waititi, based on the book Wild Pork and Watercress by Barry Crump. This is Taika Waititi's follow up film to his previous comedy What We Do in the Shadows. 

It stars Julian Dennison as Ricky Baker who after a series of unfortunate events is on the run with his cantankerous foster Uncle Hec, played by Sam Neil, in the New Zealand bush, while a national manhunt is organised to find them

As well the film Stu and I discuss what else we've been watching this and discus the latest in movie news.

As always it would make our day if you could take a couple of minutes to rate and reviews us on iTunes or drop us some feedback below! Really keen to have your input in the show.

Enjoy!

-Billy


                                      Get it from Podomatic here

                                            Get it from Itunes here





When you’re eight years old and impressionable you need someone strong and morally just to look up to. You know, like a gang of mutated turtles that fight aliens and eat pizza… Right? To celebrate the release of the new adaptation of beloved Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out Of The Shadows on June 9, we have curated the childhood favourite heroes that we held so dear.


Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles



Starting its legendary run in 1988, the heroes in a half shell were thrusted upon the world to become a phenomenon still enjoyed by kids everywhere. We fully believe that a gang of mutated turtles, who were trained by a rat in martial arts, could competently fight aliens. The new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out Of The Shadows crawls out of the sewers and onto the silver screen on June 9.

Captain Planet and the Planeteers


How easily fooled we were, loving a TV show that was actually teaching us about environmentalism the whole time… and we thought it was cool! Did anyone else want a grass-green mullet?


Jem and the Holograms




Jem and the Holograms sure was sexist and full of bad eighties fashion, but you can’t say she wasn't a hero. Jem was the original Hannah Montana for keeping her pop-star alter ego a secret, was extremely charitable for supporting 12 foster children and was a pioneer in hologram technology.

Masters of the Universe




Prince Adam, a.k.a the all-powerful He-Man, was the hero of the best sword and sorcery shows on television at the time and my personal style icon. Don't believe he was the bomb? Let’s just point out that he defended his planet from Skeletor while riding a FIGHTING TIGER. Epic hero.

ThunderCats



Thunder, thunder, ThunderCats, hooo! Humanoid cats that save the world from evil? Yes please. This classic show taught us about everything from following the rules and friendship, but mostly about kicking butt. We know what you’re thinking and the answer is yes, the show definitely began the fandom that is furries.

G.I. Joe




G.I. Joe is a real American hero, you can tell because it says so in the show's title. This hunk o' man was in constant battle with Cobra to fight for freedom! Freedom and the ladies that is.

Ghostbusters




While not technically a childhood cartoon, the Ghostbusters were definitely a group of heroes to look up to. Bill Murray himself is an outright champion and the entire gang prove that friendship is key to solving life's (paranormal) challenges.

Inspector Gadget




While we would all be a bit of a mess if Inspector Gadget was our only mentor, I'm sure you can agree that he was something special. Being able to have any and all gadgets at your fingertips is a kid's dream!

Mighty Max



All kids could relate to this pre-teen with a bad attitude. Mighty Max was a prophesied brat from the future with a teleporting hat and a Viking as a bodyguard that we desperately wanted to be.

Batman




Batman is a favourite hero for many reasons, but mainly because he has no powers. He is a rich computer geek with great fighting skills and completely set apart from other superheroes. It makes 8-year-old you think that maybe, just maybe, you could be him.

Superman



Superman on the other hand is the most powerful orphan in the world. As the very first classic superhero, he spawned every secret identity, every super power and villain to come. A true hero with a good heart and super slick hair.

Spider-Man


An 80's wonder, an Internet meme and now a part of the Captain America: Civil War team, Spider-Man has come a long way from his Peter Parker origin story. We love him because he's relatable, has a sense of humour and just powerful enough to best the regular bad guys.

Wonder Woman




A hero worthy of the title, Wonder Woman was the world's first female superhero. She was born from the ideals of feminism and drew her powers from Greek mythology, and we looked up to her because she was an absolute badass!