The Hitman video game series turned 17 this year and IO Interactive, the game’s developer, celebrated by buying themselves from Square Enix and becoming an independent studio. In November they released a Game of the Year Edition of 2016’s episodic Hitman that’s enhanced for the Xbox One X. Digital Foundry took a look and found that, like it’s bald-headed protagonist, the One X enhanced version of Hitman is killer.
Play the way you want to play
Hitman has received universal praise for the almost unlimited options it gives players in how they approach its six assassination missions. Each mission is a well-designed sandbox that provides multiple routes to the target, and multiple ways to carry out the hit once you get there.
IO Interactive continued in this vein with their One X enhancement. The player is offered a choice between High Quality and High Framerate modes. High Quality runs the game in native 4K (3840 x 2160), and piles on enhanced graphics effects. Frame rate can be unlocked or locked at 30 fps. The High Framerate mode targets 60 fps with resolution set at 1440p.
Resolution and graphics quality
All console versions of the Game of the Year Edition of Hitman have been upgraded with a different color scheme and enhanced lighting. It’s a major improvement that produces a strikingly different looking game.
The High Quality mode on the One X with frame rate locked at 30 fps is the premier graphics version of the game. Hitman’s environments are rich with details that are seen at their best in native 4K. Textures, geometry and shadow quality are all enhanced which produces highly realistic-looking scenes. Texture filtering also gets a boost which allows details to be seen from further distances. Improved texture filtering is also present in the High Framerate mode.
IO Interactive further enhanced Quality mode with extensive use of parallax occlusion mapping which adds shadows to textures. When applied to textures such as cobbled streets or carved stone architectural decorations, parallax occlusion adds subtle 3D effects that can make an entire scene come alive.
The PS4 Pro version of Hitman comes in one flavor which is most similar to the One X’s Framerate mode. Given the Pro’s emphasis on frame rate, it’s not surprising that all of the graphical enhancements available in the Quality mode on the One X are absent on the Pro.
The Game of the Year edition of Hitman looks very good on any console. On the One X, it’s a visual feast.
Quality mode on the One X runs at a steady 30 fps in most scenes when frame rate is locked. The Framerate mode shoots for 60 fps and achieves it much of the time, but not as often as the frame-rate locked Quality mode hits 30 fps.
Digital Foundry compared the Framerate mode with the unlocked Quality mode to see how the Quality mode’s native 4K and graphics enhancements impact frame rate. Running Hitman in all its visual splendor reduced frame rates between 15 and 30 fps in Digital Foundry’s tests.
Digital Foundry also compared the One X’s Framerate mode with performance on the Pro. Both versions ran with unlocked frame rates and resolution locked at 1440p. The result was a consistent decrease of 20 fps or more on the Pro compared to the One X. The One X achieved 60 fps much of the time while the Pro never got close. The difference between the two consoles is even more striking when you consider that the detail visible on textures extends deeper into the image on the One X.
The Marrakesh scenario is an exception to all these generalizations. In this scenario, Agent 47 walks through a market square that is packed with moving NPCs. Framerate mode on the One X sees frame rates dip as low as 50 fps. Frame rates also drop on the Pro, but the difference between the two consoles shrinks with the Pro coming within 10 fps of the One X at some points.
The Xbox One X enhanced version of the Game of the Year edition of Hitman is stellar. Different modes allow players to choose whether they prefer high-quality graphics or fast frame rates, and the game on the One X is superior to all other console versions no matter which mode is chosen.
The enhanced version of Hitman is a graphics showcase for the One X. If you want to show people what the One X can do when’s paired with a 4K HDR TV, show them this game.
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