Hitman: Absolution shows signs of brilliance, mixed with a few nagging issues. Do those issues snuff out the score, or does Agent 47 rise from the ashes like a bald phoenix and proceed to snap your neck, steal your clothes and hide your body in a dresser? Find out, by reading on…
Short nitty-gritty plot description from IMDb is as follows: After assassinating his former handler, Diana, Agent 47 goes on a mission on her request to track down a young girl named Victoria. Meanwhile, his own employers hunt him and an arms manufacturer, Blake Dexter, pursues Victoria as well.
The story behind Hitman: Absolution is fairly basic. Some bad guys have taken something you want, so you’re going to kill to get it back. Don’t let my awful simple summary trick you into thinking the story isn’t great though, as it’s straightforward, easy to follow and a blast to watch unfold. The world of Hitman is full of seedy, dirty people, which makes killing your targets that much easier. Of course the person your playing as, Agent 47, trained killer clone, is no patriot saint himself, but much like the much loved TV character Dexter (funny enough a villain in this game is named Dexter as well), Agent 47 kills who he must and more often than not, that person deserves it.
Fans of Hitman past, might be thrown off a little by the changes in game play. Gone are the extreme trial and errors of yesteryear, in it’s place is a more forgivable system, in most parts. The game introduces a new feature called Instinct, which allows 47 to see through walls, detect enemy walking patterns and when in disguise, blend in. Certain parts of this new feature can be disabled, or depending on if you’re playing the higher difficulties, completely turned off. I remember thinking going into the game, that I would try to not use the feature as much, but my willpower was weak and I found myself using it a lot, but honestly, it didn’t bother me too much and I felt it made the game much easier to get into. The game also now features a scoring system, that will add or subtract points depending on the actions you take throughout the levels. If you decide to kill people, you’ll lose points, but if you subdue people and hide their bodies, the points level out. It’s an interesting system, which makes it fun to try to strive for the most possible points and reach that ultimate goal of silent assassin.
As I mentioned above, the Instinct feature is tied in with the disguise system. In Hitman: Absolution, the disguises have been changed and for the most part it works. If you’re wearing a disguise that is the same as some of the other people on the level, they will start to become suspicious if you get too close, stay in their line of the sight for too long and your cover will be blown. Unfortunately, this is a flawed system, where the suspicion distance is ridiculous, with guys detecting you from across a room, while your back is turned. Also, if you’re wearing a full face mask, the guys will still detect you. More often than not, it’s much easier to just use cover and stealth to get through a level, which takes away from the idea of Hitman. I’ve been hearing that a patch is in the works, that will fix some the issues with disguises, so I look forward to popping Hitman back in and checking it out should that fix ever come through. Another fix I’m hoping gets put in, is a fix to the checkpoint system. Through the levels, depending on difficulties, you’ll find checkpoints. You can “save” your progress at this area, but unfortunately if you die and start from the checkpoint, everyone in the level will be reset, along with any sort of traps if you’ve set up. This means, if you’ve hid some bodies, they’ll now be back alive. This can cause issues, for example, if you reset back at a checkpoint and a group of enemies are re spawned next to you, it can potentially cause your detection and ruin your mission.
Another small unfortunate change from the early games, is the size of the levels. Now, we get smaller individual levels that are tied together. Occasionally, you might get a larger area to mess around in, but more often than not, the level is small. Still, even the smaller levels have a good amount of things to see and ways to kill your targets, of which this game has plenty. Still, I do miss the days of Hitman: Blood Money, where a level was massive and you could spend hours in it and still not see everything.
IO Interactive’s new engine, Glacier 2, is a sight to behold. The amount of detail they crammed into this game is amazing. You’ll really start to take notice when you get to a level where there are literally a hundred people on screen and no slow down is present. If I had to nitpick and provide any sort of negative for the graphics, it would be the overuse of bloom lighting. To go along with those amazing graphics, is amazing sound work, with David Bateson providing the smooth voice of Agent 47. In fact everyone does a great job here in the voice department, which features voices from Powers Booth and Keith Carradine to name a few. The music is also a tasty little treat for the ears. I thought with the absence of Jesper Kyd, it would be lacking, but rest assured, Thomas Bärtschi does a fantastic job.
If the single player wasn’t enough, Hitman: Absolution also features an “online” component called Contracts. In Contracts, you can play through player created hits on targets. In order to create a contract, the creator must first complete the mission. He chooses the targets, disguise, weapon and method of killing and once complete, a score is given and the contract is uploaded for all to play. This opens up the game and allows for a more traditional Hitman style of play. It’s also nice that the creator has to finish the contract before, so it eliminates people from complaining that it’s not possible. Contracts is definitely a feature of the game that can be expanded upon with DLC and I hope the developers take notice of that and we get treated to all sorts of goodies.
This review might come off sounding more negative than positive, but don’t let that fool you. I personally think Hitman: Absolution is a brilliant game, with a lot of potential. If IO Interactive could iron out a few issues with the disguise system and checkpoints, the game would be a masterpiece, but even if they don’t, the game is still a must buy and one you need to experience.
Story – 4/5 – A straight forward story, but one that is easy to follow and to the point. The world of Hitman is a dirty, dirty place.
Gameplay – 4/5 – Plenty of targets to kill in a variety of different ways, with inventive levels, but a flawed disguise and checkpoint system bring the score slightly down.
Graphics – 4/5 – A beautiful looking game, with a ton of small details that you wouldn’t normally pick up on, unless you play through again. Overuse of bloom lighting would be the only negative.
Sound – 4.5/5 – Great voice work and some brilliant music, make Hitman: Absolution a treat for the ears.
Overall (not an average) – 4/5 – A few issues bring the score down, but the overall package is something you don’t want to miss out on. Welcome back, Agent 47!