It still amazes me that Hitman Absolution is the first Hitman game we have seen on Playstation 3. For such a strong franchise on the PS2 I would’ve thought Agent 47 would have cropped up sooner than this!
In Absolution, Agent 47 has gone rogue after carrying out a mission in which he kills his former handler ‘Diana’. As a complex plot unravels you will be tasked with using all of your Hitman skills to track and eliminate targets to get information.
This game has a much higher emphasis on story than I remember for the previous games which leads to an issue that a lot of people complained about – the fact that for some missions you don’t actually assassinate your target. What I mean is that once you get to where they are a cut-scene takes over and events play out as scripted.
This makes sense in terms of exposition, especially if the target needs to give you story info before dying but it obviously goes against a part of the Hitman ethos, which is planning to kill the target with the freedom of a choice of options.
Thankfully there are numerous other targets that you can take out however you like and I personally didn’t have a problem with the ‘cut scene deaths’.
The controls are tight and Agent 47 handles well. I liked the feel of the shooting and felt that they did a good job of making your shots seem like they were landing with a suitable punch.
Graphically Hitman Absolution is great, it has a slight cartoon sheen but that only heightens the look of the game in my opinion. The design of the levels has obviously been done meticulously and you will have great fun working out ways to get through them.
The biggest plus for me in this game is the instinct meter, a finite source that can used in a number of ways.
Firstly, you will always have a very small amount of instinct available – this means with a press of R1 you can see enemies through walls, see which route they will take and get an idea of who is around you. This makes planning your next move a lot easier than having to hope an enemy isn’t around the corner!
In an offensive capacity you can slow down time, tag a number of enemies and then have Agent 47 immediately take them out when time restarts. Very handy for unexpected crowd control but it drains your ‘instinct’ all the way.
Defensively ‘instinct’ allows you to blend in with your surroundings – if you are on the verge of being discovered in disguise you can hold R1 and the cries of ‘hey you, do I know you?’ will be replaced with ‘ah he must the new guy that’s starting today.’ This is a fantastic mechanic for lesser skilled assassins like myself. It gives you time to recover a mission that might otherwise have been blown and saved me on numerous occasions.
Disguises also play a big role here, if your cover is blown the quickest way avoid further detection is to change clothes. However, be warned – in a nice touch, people wearing the same uniform/clothes are a lot more likely to notice you are a stranger (as they would know the other people they work with). But that’s where the aforementioned instinct comes into play.
The enemy AI is pretty good and certainly if you raise a full scale alarm it’ll take some luck and good judgement to avoid death. If you’re just spotted or suspicious it’s fairly easy to get away by breaking line of sight and hiding in one of the many cupboards/boxes etc scattered around the levels.
For the most part you’ll likely want to play stealthily and see if you can get through the level undetected. But sometimes you just want to let some steam off and shoot some bad guys Hitman Absolution allows for both but be warned, a stand up gun fight makes things pretty difficult. And the unfortunate checkpoint system doesn’t help matters.
Rather than saving your progress or allowing a hard manual save the game has specific checkpoints in a level that you can activate. It just feels a little out of place for a game that gives you so much freedom in other areas.
The online offering is the rather excellent ‘Contracts’ mode in which you can play through a level of the game, mark your own targets and set conditions before uploading the level for the world at large to play. You can also play through other people’s creations and the whole thing is good fun and fairly easy to do.
It was a refreshing change to play a game that gives you a lot of freedom to approach and deal with targets as you see fit. It’s also a stark reminder of how far Assassin’s Creed has drifted from it’s roots. As an example in Assassin’s Creed III I made my way slowly and quietly up to a target, hit the attack button to assassinate him only to discover he had a ‘health bar’. The attack on him diminished his health a jot and alerted all the guards in the area. In Hitman Absolution I can get close to a target, take them out and make my escape in any number of ways. Thankfully there were no health bars!
I can’t recommend Hitman Absolution enough. There are a range of difficulty levels (the higher ones remove instinct etc) so whether you want to get into Hitman or are a long time fan of the series, this game has a lot to offer. It’s not perfect and sometimes a little wonky AI or level design comes into play but this is a great title that you can have a whole heap of fun with.