Warning: The following review will contain plot spoilers for Episode 4 of the 2016 video game Hitman.
In the beginning of August a series of gaming sites started reporting that they’ve received a press release from the band The Class. The press release described the band’s succesful first album and how they’re recording their next album at a luxury hotel in Thailand.
The press release also described how the lead singer of The Class, Jordan Cross, lost his girlfriend in an accident. What it didn’t mention is Cross’ possible involvement in her death and the fact that Cross has been assassinated… or not.
Whether Cross is dead or alive depends on how much you’ve played the latest Hitman game. Because The Class isn’t an actual band, but rather a fictional one that has Cross as a main target for Agent 47.
Hitman developer IO Interactive launched quite a promotion campaign ahead of Episode 4 of the latest Hitman game, that includes sending vinyl records containing 3 songs by The Class out to gaming sites and journalists.
Additionally, there’s been created social media accounts for The Class (which posted and replied as if they were an actual upcoming band), accounts on streaming services, and – my personal favorite – a Discogs user account for Jordan Cross who submitted the 3-track EP to Discogs.
As a small disclaimer I should note that this 12″ was given to me as a promo by Square Enix Europe for the purpose of writing this post. A big thanks to Square Enix Europe and the Hitman Team for making this happen.
This will be one of the shorter packaging descriptions, simply because it’s a very regular release in terms of packaging. Don’t pay too much attention to the bent corners as the record came very well packaged. There’s no accounting for angry postal service employees, it seems.
The record comes in a standard record jacket in a plain white paper sleeve. However, they did go a little fancy with the record itself. As you can see below my copy came on white vinyl. If the numbers on Jordan Cross’ Discogs submission are correct, then there are 400 copies on white vinyl and an additional 100 copies on clear vinyl.
I did notice one oddity with the jacket. The tracklisting on the back of the jacket is actually incorrect. As seen below, the cover lists “Are We Stars” as the only track on side a. But actually the track that plays on the a-side is “Shine A Light“, while “Are We Stars” is the first track on side b.
Whether this is delibarate or a mishap is unknown, but it goes quite well with the narrative that IO Interactive attempts to create about an upcoming band. That could easily fit the entire release, as it does seem like something a new band would put out to create some buzz and attention about a future full-length album.
Now I’ve mentioned plenty of talk about marketing and fictional bands, but what is actually on this record?
Well, if you read the press release you’ll see that the music is described as alternative rock. While that seems like a fair description the music does bring back some memories from the mid-00s indie rock bands coming out of the US and UK in particular. There’s a focus on catchy choruses, danceable riffs, and some almost 80s inspired electronic elements in the songs.
A song like “Gun Show” wouldn’t be completely out of place on the first album by The Killers, while “Shine A Light” could’ve been a more pop-y Editors tune. And yet, they still sound somewhat different from the major acts of that era.
Overall, I feel like IO Interactive went all out in making a believeable scenario for the fourth episode of Hitman and this promo campaign was definitely a nice touch. And going so far as to submit the release to Discogs seem to hint that there’s some record collectors working on Hitman at IO Interactive. Additionally, releasing these songs is an interesting step in doing a record that helps create immersion around a game rather than “just” releasing background music from the game.
Normally I would now tell you where you can get this, but since this is a promotion only release you cannot buy it anywhere. The band did say on Twitter that “we’ll have to see how things go“ regarding more copies of the release, but whether that is a legitimate consideration or a clever response to keep the upcoming band narrative going is currently unknown.
I shouldn’t cheat you out of listening to the tunes, though, so below you can find the official SoundCloud links to all three tracks from this release: