Hitman Absolution developed by IO Interactive brings an almost forgotten and great gameplay back to life.
After nearly 6 years of development number 47 returns for another action packed adventure. Although there are plenty great stealth-action games currently around such as Assassins Creed, Deus Ex, Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell and even Batman: Arkham Asylum (depending how much Bat you have in you), Hitman Absolution holds a very enjoyable game of its own.
For those who are new to the franchise: The Hitman series evolve around a contract killer called “47″, a cold-blooded bald headed assassin who operates on behalf of “The International Contract Agency”.
You can either blast your way through missions or go full stealth assassination mode, and as expected the latter of the two is the more enjoyable flavor. In a typical mission, your assignment is to assassinate a specific target. Almost as basic as a game of Frogger on the C64, but with some additional options. The games signature of the series is lies in the different ways you can accomplish killing your target and extra kudos are given if you can do this totally unnoticed. In that kind of sense, its a complete different rewarding system than just keeping a fraglist in CoD2, but never less the fun of it.
For instance, you can place a bomb near a targets vehicle and wait till your target steps into the driving seat or use a sniper rifle and find a sweet spot somewhere on a roof and between the eyes of your target.
If thats all way too distant for your liking, you can go up-close and personal by wearing disguise clothes stripped from victims. Yes, you will change a lot of clothes in this game. And the great thing is that agent 47 exceptional body will fit almost every clothing line, no matter size your victim has. Just make sure you drag the dead bodies out of the sunlight and into a dumpster or sewer, and less chance of getting noticed.
In some cases you don’t need to disguise at all and you can just walk up to your target and pull out your gun with the included silencer. How you like to play this game, its all up to you.
The series is not known for their compelling story lines and Hitman Absolution is no exception at all. In Hitman Absolution, agent 47 is send out to kill former colleague and his main point-of-contact with the agency- Diana Burnwood. She has turned against the agency and is planning to expose the organization for unknown reasons (yet to be discovered). Knowing he and his former colleague have spend the all Hitman episodes side by side, the twist in the story doesn’t come as a surprise at all. After the death of Diana Burnwood, agent 47 goes AWOL and tries to investigate the true meaning of the organization while protecting Diana’s daughter Victoria. Yes, that spells Protecting just as in: killing a lot of people !!!
Hitman Absolution is the fifth and latest installment of the series. The game has hugely improved on the graphics part thanks to IO Interactive’s brand new Glacier 2 Engine, which was rebuild from scratch in order to maximize performance. Even compared to the older games from the lineage, the graphics and gameplay is as smooth as butter. There is some jerkyness, for instance when moving death bodies onto a stairway, but this isn’t so much bothering as the graphics are just stunning. I even found one occasion when a SWAT agent got stuck in a door, still I can’t say this sort of glitches are happening often or at all bothering. IO Interactive is claiming that the Glacier 2 engine can even render as much as 1200 individual characters at 30 FPS on an average system. Well true or not, Hitman Absolution does show off big crowds of individual characters and it does look impressive. You will mostly use these crowds to hide your character and blend in (much like Altair from Assasins Creed), and otherwise its only for the added atmospheric purposes.
One of the nice things is that IO Interactive did make an effort to let agent 47 moving through crowds at almost normal speeds. This might sounds like a minor thing, but I remember games like Assassins Creed sometimes suddenly becoming quiet dull when moving through crowds at a much slower pace.
As far as 3rd-persons games go, the controls plays pretty well. Like “Kane and Lynch” which is also developed by the same game studio, this game plays evenly well on both PC and console.
The buttons are all not too complicated and well laid out, and this makes it very enjoyable to play from a lazy couch as well as from a desk(top). The game doesn’t have a wide variety of moves (such as Tom Clancy’s Splintercell or the Metal Gear series) still there are plenty of movements you can decide on.
Special movement and actions in the game seems all been stolen and borrowed from other fransises, but that does work well with this game.
You have Sensing mode, which is somewhat similar to Assassins Creed eagle vision and helps you spot Enemies (even behind walls). There is some kind of Max Paynes bullet time (never the less this feature did already exist in the original Hitman: Codename 47). And last but not least you can take someone hostage and use them as a human-shield (personal favorite for messy getaways and escape plans).
With these special moves and the ability to choice your own game style is just a lot of fun. At some times a bit time-consuming when you just want to make a perfect hit, but that is even more rewarding when doing so. The bullet time feature in Hitman Absolution is really awesome. It allows the player to move the time slowly are carefully select a large group of targets. After all markers are set, you can execute your hits in one smooth western style action sequence, much like being directed by Sergio Leone himself.
Hitman Absolution really plays well on the rewarding system. Some kills have been marked as “Signature Kills”, these kills include poisoning someones drinks/food or drugs, blowing them up, setting them on fire, dropping a big piece of rock/wood or disco ball and much much more. Signature kills will make you replay levels just for the sake of fun… and its so much fun.
Sometimes the game levels are progressing too slowly and are becoming a bit exhausting, for instance when there are vast majority of SWAT teams looking for you and you slowly have to wade through the level. Just when you finished the level you discovered that for the next mission you are still stuck in the same building and need to evade even more SWAT teams. For these levels you thank-god for finishing them, and then there are levels which you probably play over-and-over again because of all the awesome “signature kills”.
Another point of criticism is that collected weapons are not taken into the next mission. Without any reason you will start out the next mission with just the bare minimum. Even when you have collected more arms that the national police force, you will lose it on the start of next mission. This choice probably has to do with the expected difficulty for the level, but still this shouldn’t be the case. If you collect a weapon and you can carry it with you, it should stick to you until you get rid of it. No game should have excuses for this.
Criticism aside, there is much to like about the new Hitman game, and the fans will definitely rate Hitman Absolution as ‘a number one hit’ (BBRRRDDRRUM!). Still the game is not perfect. The missions are set in a sandbox environment which could be made a lot bigger and wider. I really wished they would have, because you kind of feel you have a lot of options to execute your assassination, but still stuck in a limited and almost linear game world.
The game AI choices can be a bit questionable, for instance when you wearing a cop uniform and another cop sees you and find out you are not a cop. Seriously, do all the members of the Police force now each other by person. If so, we should definitely lower the tax because too much is spend on donuts and drinking tea and even less solving crimes.
Still even with some of its quirkiness, its a great game and all criticism is easily forgotten by looking at the sceneries and playing the game. With all the special moves and the “Signature kill” rewarding system it has a great replay value which just sucks you into perfecting your skills for stealth kills.
In-Short: Hitman Absolution is an awesome game and a must have for anyone who likes stealth-action games (or who has developed a variety of psychopathic issues).