Release Date: November 20, 2012
Developer(s): IO Interactive
Platform(s): PS3 / X360 / PC
I’ve not had the experience of playing the previous Hitman games, so I don’t have a good excuse as to why I was drawn to Hitman: Absolution. Perhaps I was curious as to how a tall white bald male could look inconspicuous in a sea of Asians? Or how I could kill a henchman in front of his comrades, don a disguise before them and mostly get away with it? Anyhow, Hitman: Absolution is an action-adventure stealth game which gives you the freedom of being violent or cunning (I like being violent). The story is irrelevant, but it involves protecting a girl worth a lot of money. The extent of this game’s excitement is killing your enemies in a number of different ways, and seeing how many collectible weapons you can touch/use.
The story begins with you as Agent 47 and you’ve just been given a contract to assassinate a client. This contract is no mere job because the Agency–the organization who handles all the agents–has instructed Agent 47 to kill someone dear to him: his former handler. Before the handler is killed, she requests 47 to protect a girl because apparently she’s somehow important and is being treated in the same fashion as he is. It seems like the player has to have previous knowledge of the series to really understand this plot. But by appeasing his handler’s final wish to protect a special girl, he is thrown into an unexpected adventure. Of course, this ensures that he is now at odds with the Agency itself, and later on, a wealthy villain who also has his eyes on the girl.
The biggest issue I have with Absolution is just how irrelevant the story is. Yes, the game sets the stage for the situation, but the audience quickly learns that the story is secondary here. It is muddled with plot holes and uncertainty. And all the villains and minor characters are nothing more than mere target practice for Agent 47. They speak, yet evoke no emotion from the players. The player doesn’t question their existence, their character, or their motive for what they do. These characters just exist. There were a few whom seemed interesting at a glance, but it’s apparent that the main focus of the game was the gameplay itself.
An example of this would be the bosses themselves. They were given grand cut scenes that made me look forward to Agent 47′s encounter with them. However, these potentially amazing villains fall so quickly, it’s disheartening. That left me thinking, “This was what I was looking forward to?” Some may not see this as a problem, but Absolution is a game that’s supposed to have a story. So, what I was expecting was a good story, good characters and good gameplay.
Despite the lackluster plot, Hitman: Absolution is a worthy game. One of the most interesting factors is the point system that comes into play during each mission. The score begins at zero, but this changes depending on your actions as an assassin. Decisions that favor stealth will give you a positive scoring, while excessive violence puts your score in the negative. Disposing of these kills cleanly, or hiding them away does repair the damage, but it’s of minimal gain. At the end of your mission, you’ll receive a final score and rank based on those points. Additionally, reaching an appropriate rank unlocks one of Agent 47′s abilities to better aid him.
These abilities aren’t restricted to the story, they can also be utilized in Absolution’s online ‘Contracts Mode.’ The object of this mode is to complete missions with player made objectives. Finishing them correctly or in their entirety rewards the player with the most points. However, if you’re like me and not very meticulous, you’ll end up just trying to get through the level. Apparently, this fashion of competition has been alive before the coming of Absolution unofficially. I’m sure fans of this franchise are quite pleased that they can now properly compete against one another and have evidence of their prowess. I only spent a few games trying out Contracts Mode, but trying to accomplish the man made objectives was a little aggravating since I couldn’t do it my way (without repercussions). Regardless, it was rewarding when I actually completed a part of the level’s objective.
Another interesting mechanic in Hitman: Absolution is the ‘Instinct Meter.’ I wouldn’t say that this meter is absolutely crucial to completing the game (except when the story is involved), though it certainly makes the experience a little smoother. With the Instinct Meter, Agent 47 can detect clues invisible to the untrained eye; he can blend into a room of henchmen undetected, and most importantly, kill four opponents at the same time through the use of sharp shooter ability. Of course, camouflage and sharpshooting depletes your Instinct Meter, but it can be refilled by defeating opponents, completing objectives and distracting enemies.
It’s time to talk about the many different ways players can kill a man, or a number of men at the same time. Agent 47 starts the game with two weapons: the silent killer, The Fiber Wire; and his trademark pistols, two AMT Hardballers. The player could probably complete the game with only these two weapons on hand, but what fun would that be? Hitman: Absolution comes with a lot of firepower just like any other video game which incorporates firearms. Many weapons are recurring, but some are only unique to a particular mission. This seems to be the case with sniper rifles (I wish this wasn’t so). The majority of these weapons handle in the same fashion, as in no recoil, so no need to practice at the range prior to playing this game.
Death by Agent 47’s hands isn’t restricted to firearms, however. As a cunning stalker, sometimes it’s foolish to rush head on. That’s where the game’s environment comes into play. Potentially anything 47′s grasps can be used in a destructive way, and the environment gives you amble ammunition. Everything from a mere coffee cup to a statue’s head. These items change with the environment as well. For instance, outdoor missions yield outdoors items. Environmental items like a gasoline container, can be thrown at the enemy, or better yet, used to attract said enemy so you can strangle him to death with your Fiber Wire or bare hands. I even remember using a book to subdue my opponent. After the deed is done, the player can dispose of the enemy in hiding spots like garage bins or toss them over railings.
During those times when being a sneaky ninja fails, hand to hand combat is your only saving grace. The fighting sequence is automatic, but pressing the correct button that pops up during the brawl determines whether Agent 47’s punches connect or not. Sounds simple enough, I know. This isn’t the case, however, while you’re brawling as the enemy reinforcements tend to show up and begin firing at you when you’re exposed.
Besides my disinterest in the story, there’s little fault I can say about this game. The graphics are beautiful of course, but some animation fluidity in the story mode seemed a little choppy for a game that came out in November of last year. Hitman: Absolution’s many disguises and collectible weapons do increase the game’s replayability quite a bit, so I can overlook that small mishap. When all is said and done, if you want to know what it feels like to snap a man’s neck or survive against a building full of enemies with only two pistols, then this game is for you.
- Variety of instruments to dispose of enemies
- Little restriction with disposing of enemies
- Point System which favors stealth
- Tastefuly done violence
- Story is hard to get into and irrelevant
- Cookie cutter character cast