After six years of waiting, wondering if the most famous assassin has us in his sights, released in the 47th week of 2012 IO Interactive’s fifth addition to the Hitman franchise by Square Enix, Hitman: Absolution has finally released.
Now as a gamer i have never played a Hitman game, the most i have played was a demo back on the PS2 so my own knowledge of the previous games is very limited apart from knowing the basics, although after getting my hands on a few moments of play when we went to the Eurogamer Expo this year really got me interested in the game, Therefore I won’t be talking about the previous games although I certainly will be researching Hitman’s entire history, another reason why demos are so crucial to publishers and developers getting those sales and enticing new gamers into the franchise. As soon as I started the career I was welcomed by some stunning cut scene visuals starting off the story and setting the background that would run across the whole story of the career. The first mission for me was a good starting point on learning the tricks of the trade, finding out how the game played and how much freedom I had with Agent 47, the cover system was very good allowing me to manoeuvre the character behind small garden walls, peeking around corners deciding how I’m going to plan my way through the level and kill the intended target(s).
The Levels are relatively large but broken up well with frequent checkpoints so you are never worrying about how far you have left to go before the next one and the variety of levels and objectives constantly display the amazing smooth graphics of the game keeping you interested in the games beauty and creativity at every new location offering a multitude of ways to infiltrate restricted areas to assassinate your targets. One of Agent 47’s ways of infiltrating is by using disguises from recently knocked out or killed innocents which takes only a few seconds to put on before dragging their limp lifeless bodies into a locker or industrial dustbin conveniently scattered throughout the levels.
The most fun way of eliminating the targets has been taking my time watching and stalking my prey looking for accidents just waiting to happen which could eliminate their life without suspect. Although the impatient child in me on select occasions took the all guns blazing approach using as many weapons to end the NPC’s life in any way that I could with even the hand to hand combat system being one of my favourite choices to disarm and silence an area. While having ‘fun’ with the options open to dispelling all life brings into focus the points scoring system that tracks every innocent kill, every needed kill and ultimately how you kill adding or reducing your score appropriately defines the Hitman’s rule of being a ghost killing only what you need to get the job done.
Hitman: Absolution has included a cold bloodied killers ‘Instinct mode’ which is the ability to predict the enemies movements showing the routes that they are going to take and where they are going to end up in real time, making the game easier for those that don’t quite have the assassin stealth skills of the hardcore players and showing items of interest to use as distractions or as a life ending tool. With Hitman’s 5 varying levels of difficulty I am not afraid to say I played the game on the easiest the first time through. However as you increase the difficulty the feature provides less help and eventually disabled altogether helping you hone your assassin skills.
After completing the levels your summary which records your scoring for the past mission also includes a list of collectables and challenges which include items such as a screwdriver or a Hawaiian Hula girl right down to the variety of disguises on offer in the level instantly providing replay value to the games missions. Depending on how you get enjoyment out of progressing through the levels I did enjoy having such a variety of options at my disposal to kill in any way I wish.
With the many items in the game at your disposal that you are able to use to distract guards to avoid getting yourself found out is immense. The sound engine within the game is so well thought out, whether you smash a window, throw a brick at the wall or at a gas tank, each of the sounds are unique. With so many different levels and surfaces the chance hearing a different clink when you throw your chosen object is guaranteed.
Another new feature in Hitman: Absolution is ‘Point Shooting’ much like the multi target and kill used in Splinter Cell Conviction and using Dead Eye in Red Dead Redemption you can place a tag for each of your shots on the body parts of your chosen victims eventually resulting in a skull and crossbones which is your final shot to kill the target, head shots as you would expect are instant providing they are not wearing helmets. As far as I have tried myself you can use this on all guns right down to the sniper. The point shooting is a great way to knock off multiple enemies whether you need to end a mission tastefully or because you made the mother of all mistakes and left a body out resulting in multiple enemies closing in around you.
** MINOR SPOILER IN THE FOLLOWING PARAGRAPH**
Now I don’t know if this is down to me not being a player of the previous games but some of the earlier story and characters didn’t make much sense to me such as the inclusion of The Saints – apart from being ladies in what seems like leather/PVC Nun costumes straight out of the Anne Summer’s catalogue that clearly get thrills out of pain, killing and BIG guns I don’t really see what they are supposed to provide within the game which makes the story very disjointed but not enough that it puts the whole story out of whack and quickly gets back on course in the levels after.
Hitman comes shipped with its very own unique multiplayer mode called ‘Contracts’ originally only available by a redeem code but has since now been made free for all to play which was very nice of IO Interactive to open up to everybody.
Contracts allows you to create your own hits within the mission levels of the Hitman career to compete with your friends and the rest of the Xbox 360 Hitman community again using the point scoring system found in the career. Successfully completing contracts either better than the creator or not earns you Hitman cash which is then able to be used to upgrade and buy weapons and disguises previously unlocked through the campaign again adding replayability and adding the competitive edge to become a better assassin and be more creative in completing the contract. The Creator can choose up to 3 targets within the mission be it an original target from the campaign or an innocent street vendor in the most crowded of areas using any of the available level weapons and objects, offering bonuses on weapons you want your friends to use, to exits within the level to boost their scores.
With my lack of previous experience playing the other games in the Hitman franchise I am unable to compare between them so my opinion is solely on the game itself as it comes. Absolution for me stands out as a game to purchase this holiday, don’t rent it because there is no way that you will be able to experience all of what this game has to offer. There is no other game out there that even comes close to how unique and the type of experience it has to offer.
Hitman: Absolution’s secret achievements relate to the story missions and ways in which you terminate targets some are for performing stealth kills or as simple as hiding a body. For any completions or average gamer that enjoys increasing their Gamerscore, this is defiantly not a list to be worried about finishing off with my own average gaming skills I myself even managed to accumulate 35 of the 46 achievement’s netting me 580G’s divided between the career and Contracts mode.
I have to be honest, I was not very interested in Hitman before, but Absolution certainly has made me a fan from now. Will I pick up the previous games just to experience the rest of the story behind Agent 4? I have to say I expect so, just to appreciate where the game has come from and where it’s going to. I am already looking forward to the next instalment of the Hitman games…let’s hope it’s not another 6 years from now!
This is not a game that you want to miss in 2012 and if it’s not on your christmas list, it certainly should be.
I Rate Hitman: Absolution as an easy 8.7 out of 10.