Agent 47 is back again and is as ever a one man silent killing machine. Hitman games have always been focused on the stealth and action aspect of play style and this game is no different.
Hitman: Absolution follows in the footsteps of its previous games but with more weapons, different locations and many many more ways to kill your target and or who ever you feel has gotten in your way or you just plain do not like the look of. The major difference with this game unlike the others is the beautiful new aesthetic and updated control system to deliver a clean tool for becoming an assassination machine.
Without getting into to many details over the ins and outs of the story Hitman: Absolution begins with Agent 47 taking on his most ultimate assassination order. After this he then comes in contact with a young girl who from previous events he has decided he must protect, unknown to him in the beginning, Agent 47 and the girl have much more in common than he realises, opening the story up reveals many truths.
Hitman: Absolution takes the role of becoming Agent 47 seriously and does this by making sure that if players want to be on the leader boards with the high scores, for each level they must do things the way Agent 47 is meant to and that of course, is get in, kill the target and get out without anyone even noticing that you have been there. If you can be a shadow, stealthy navigate your environment and kill your target with no one noticing, you will rack up the high scores. Get spotted, kill hostile non targets or helpless civilians then you will be punished with minus numbers taking points away from your score.
Hitman: Absolution require much patience, waiting, planning and foresight if you want kills to be done properly to achieve the best score and also the least hassle. If it does not go to plan however and you do get spotted you do have a few options. If you are only spotted by one person you could kill them before they get a chance to disclose your location, if this is not possible and you are surrounded then no better time than to see the action aspects of this game and go in good ol’ guns blazing. For these moments the cover system becomes very useful and allows you to hide around corners or near anything you believe could be used for cover, luckily this system is pretty responsive and normally does not cause much issue, only the odd occasions cover snapping onto the wrong cover and being beside a box getting shot at instead of behind it.
To plan and elude your enemies Agent 47 has a very handy magic trick called his ‘Instinct’ this allows him to not only see through walls and pin point enemies or things of interest it also allows him to be able to judge where enemies are going to end up on the patrols and random walks. This is very useful if you are hiding in plain sight behind a bin and are worried the guard might randomly spot you and ruin your perfect run without being spotted. This can make the game a little too easy however as it requires little knowledge on the enemies path patterns as you get a massive fire trail to represent their path. This could be to make it easier for more casual players to allow them to have more fun with the overall game and not worry about the enemies footsteps while they are trying to devise a way to take down their target.
If Agent 47 is caught in the act however he does have a pretty cool little technique called the ‘Fake Surrender’ this basically allows him to hold his hands into the air until the unsuspecting police officer, armed thug or all round enemy gets to close. At the point 47 gets his Jackie Chan on and takes the gun while swinging them around and using them as a hostage / human shield. One on one this is a sure sign for victory and also a quick way to stop from being spotted or having your cover blown. In larger numbers this can give you the minute you need to plan your escape. When holding a hostage you can either shoot other enemies resulting in your new shield becoming the main target until you discard him or you can knock him out.
The most useful feature, which saves you a lot of time and worry from being spotted is being able to “blend in plain sight”. To do this Agent 47 must find a disguise which can be found placed around each level in places such as service closets and office rooms. Do not worry if you can not find one just laying about, take out someone who wears some form of uniform and you can loot it off their sleeping/dead body. Once you are dressed to impress you are able to come and go in places your normal form can not go without being instantly spotted.
Being in disguise does have its downsides, anyone who wears the same uniform as you will be suspicious of you the “new guy” and will try and get close to you to see if you actually work with them, this opens ups the attention gauge, this is represented by a curve with an arrow in the middle to represent the direction of the person who has spotted you. If this become full your cover will be blown and anyone around at the time of being spotted will know what you look like and could even divulge your disguise to others. To stop this from happening when you need to get passed you can use your instinct to blend in plain sight at the expense of slowly depleting your action gauge. This means you can come and go as you please without being noticed but only for as long as your action gauge lasts, very useful when wanting to walk through the front door.
There are a few different difficulty levels which range from the beginner where things regenerate to really hard where you basically only get a set amount of instinct etc. The best mode to play on even for a beginner if you want a little challenge to game play would be normal mode. Other modes before this are probably too easy for a gamer but might be fun for the casual auidence who are not used to the Hitman games. Even on the normal difficulty the levels are varied to allow you to experience different styles and tatics. Some levels are easier for stealth and others you can go in guns blazing if you so wish, this allows for the game to appeal to a number of different players who think Hitman is all about hiding.
The levels in Hitman are quite open and allows you to search around for those little tools to use for your assassination techniques. Sleeping pills used to put in a pizza to overdose your target or using a wrench to move electric wires and connecting them to a metal gate which only your target uses makes for some interesting game play. Parts of levels are useful to remember to come back to if caught and others are good when you watch the path of enemies and your target. A good tip is to scope out as much of the level as you can and use it as a reference noting places you can climb on or hide behind if the worst happens and you get spotted. Noting all the lockers and bins is also handy when you need places to hide bodies you have knocked out or killed, be careful however they can only fit 2 bodies in and one of them includes yourself.
One of the best parts of the game is being able to walk or sneak around and find all the different ways you can take out your target, some can be quite obvious like a sniper rifle just left next to a window while others are less in your face, poisoning drugs with glands of a fish which will later be used by your target. Nothing feels better than watching your target walk past or up to your carefully planned actions and then seeing or hearing the result, all the while no one knows it was you and you slip right past leaving enemies in complete confusion. Even for a stealth game the action parts do stand up pretty well, Hitman is not a game which outright forces you to hide and sneak everywhere, Agent 47 is made of some kind of magic muscle who will withstand a barrage of bullets before he goes down, if you feel like you want to kill everyone you walk past in the level you are welcome to. The score wont be high but you will complete the level just the same.
If you are a person that wants to score high you will not like that way the game pushes you down certain paths, this is one of the downfalls of the game. It makes you feel that only the sneaky players get the points when others who are great at action and shooting will be rewarded with negative numbers. The end result is the same you will complete the level but your score will be non-existent which is a shame.
The AI will also frustrate you with parts of the game causing you to wonder if they have be programmed by a machine telling them to stand in front of you while hiding in a cupboard and not being able to even think to look inside when you was just there. Being able to see the paths of enemies and watching them for a few minutes does make the game very easy to predict sometimes leaving you with a very hollow feeling at the end of the level knowing that most if not all the AI will never stray from their pre-deinfed paths. This is even worse when there are lots of enemies and you feel a challenge coming only to find moments later they will all be called away from you so you can walk down the center with little trouble. It can also be annoying when the game steps outside realitly to much, an example would be the SWAT team being called because 47 dressed as a chef walks pasted another chef and the SWAT is called in and you are left in a pool of your own blood, these moments just make you go “WHAT?!” The best parts of the broken AI come out when you are able to kill someone right next to someone else and they do not even flinch until they see the body on the ground and say “Who did this?, where are you?” and you are in front of them. The AI does not even bother to wonder why 47 casually goes into a bin or a closet and does not come out for 5 minutes.
Playing the game you will also find some glitches which can be quite funny but also story breaking like pictured above, in a cut scene Agent 47 should be holding a gun, instead he is holding a secondary item picked up in the level earlier. You might think that is fine, it is a funny glitch but they can get much worse. While playing a moment occurred where a target gets a shave, Agent 47 takes the role of the barber and after 47 does his thing, you would expect the target on the ground… nope the target has glitched onto the light on the side of the wall causing an hours worth of game play lost and the entire level having to be restarted because that target is needed to be carried out the level.
Bad points aside the game is beautiful, everything in the game looks crisp and on a PC with a high end graphics the game really stands out. Lightning is well placed and the levels always have the correct feel to them, you can really enter Agents 47’s world and get the feeling you are there making bad ass stuff happen. Animation is well timed and pretty fluid making fighting and action sequences believable with a hint of epicness and the voicing is excellent with great acting and emotion to the characters.
Hitman: Absolution is a game that keeps on giving by opening up different paths you did not realise was there before this does mean the game is highly re-playable if it is a game you can dive into fully, looking past the weird glitches and dodgy AI and slightly forced game play. You must also be a person of high patience and foresight making sure your target goes where you want them to and everything follow your masters plans while also being able to think quick on your feet when everything goes belly up, also expect to restart missions if you make mistakes and get 1000s deducted off your score. The CONTRACTS mode also allows for more playtime after you have finished the game by being able to take on player designed missions and targets letting you fully experience some fully unique kill styles, this also means you are able to create your own way to play and see if others are able to complete it.
Overall the game is able to deliver, with stunning graphics and fairly large levels you will always be finding different ways to kill your targets in every level and finding hidden routes you did not find before. This really makes the game something you would be willing to keep as replaying a mission could mean taking an entirely different tactic than the first time around making money to game play ratio good. True Hitman fans will like the updated visuals, improved controls and expansive play styles but new comers to the series might feel off putted by the restricting nature of the scoring system which can sometimes force you to take only the stealthy route. All is not lost for new comers as the nice animations and fluids controls means you will always feel in control when things go wrong or the action builds up.