Review: Hitman Absolution
Agent 47 returns in Hitman: Absolution / Square Enix
The iconic assassin, Agent 47 returns in Hitman: Absolution, Square Enix and IO Interactive's latest stealth-action game in the series. This time 47 becomes the target of his employer, the mysterious organization known as "The Agency." On the run, he will have to rely on his skills of stealth and infiltration and his instinct as a professional assassin to outmaneuver The Agency.
IO Interactive's new Glacier 2 engine makes gameplay feel completely refreshed and refined compared to previous games in the series. The levels are varied and creative. From a dilapidated hotel, to a lakeside mansion, a small-town street, a bustling Chinatown and more, the environments are vast and well-designed, and give players opportunities to explore and discover alternate pathways and methods to complete missions.
In this game, the environment isn't just for decoration. It becomes Agent 47's ally, providing shadows for cover, strategic hiding places, and opportunities for special actions. With nearly every mission, the game offers a wide array for completing objectives and eliminating targets. Using disguises can offer access to guarded areas, while creating distractions for guards and other witnesses, such as setting off a cache of fireworks, provides 47 opportunities to reach the target or escape an area without detection.
Hitman: Absolution gives players instant feedback on performance in the form of points, either awarded or deducted based on progress and style and indicated on screen during gameplay. It also ranks the player's performance at mission's end and displays items collected. The elements of challenge and discovery are major driving forces in Hitman: Absolution and encourage replaying missions to get the coveted "Silent Assassin" rank or to collect disguises and other mission-specific items.
Though the stealth route isn't the only way for players to complete objectives, the game's point system awards more points for stealthy hits with minimal casualties. In addition, non-silenced weapons also can be used but will alert enemies to your presence and make it harder to reach your target and escape once the job is done. Overall, players will find they have much more incentive to use stealth, which means hiding bodies and incapacitating non-targets when spotted to avoid witnesses, using silenced weapons, and by-passing patrolling guards when possible.
Missions can range from five to 30 minutes, each depending on the player's style and choices. This makes it easy to replay missions multiple times, collecting additional weapons and costumes or trying out novel ways of eliminating the target. Hitman: Absolution also offers a wide range of difficulty modes, all of which are available from the start of the game: Easy, Normal, Hard, Expert and Purist. For those new to the series, Easy mode is a good introduction. Purist is best reserved for skilled Hitman veterans. This mode offers no hints, no health bar and no enemy radar, making it the ultimate challenge.
A new feature called Instinct will help 47 in his latest adventure. Instinct is meter-based with the amount available displayed onscreen. Using the ability will drain the Instinct bar so it should be used sparingly. It's also only available in Easy and Normal modes.
Activating this useful ability will allow players to see positions of enemies even through walls, and easily spot targets and other points of interest. It also allows the art of disguise to be taken a step further. While wearing a disguise, others might become suspicious of you if you get too close to them. Using Instinct while walking by the suspicious person lets you avoid blowing your cover.
Instinct makes point-shooting mode available. Useful for dealing with groups of enemies quickly, activating point shooting slows time and allows the player to lock in shots with an equipped gun. Once target spots are selected, pressing the prompted button will have Agent 47 fire in the exact spots the player has marked.
Hitman: Absolution also offers a new online feature called Contract Mode. In Contract Mode, gamers share and create hitman assignments that can be played within the game. Requirements and parameters can be set for difficulty, targets, weapons used and time limits, adding a new kind of challenge for players.
While Hitman: Absolution offers excellent gameplay and new modes, upon release, the game suffered from an unfortunate glitch, crashing a few times in my playthroughs (We were sent a PS3 copy of the game.) One of the crashes occurred while the game was autosaving, resulting in a corrupted save file. Many other players have experienced this glitch as well, however a new patch released last week is expected to prevent many crashing errors, hopefully cutting down the possibility of save files becoming corrupted. Still, this issue which resulted in losing hours of game progress, leaves me wishing the game had a manual save feature instead of only creating a sole autosave file.
Hitman: Absolution has another downside that will sadly can not be fixed with a patch: its story. The initial premise is intriguing, presenting potential for a glimpse into what makes the enigmatic Agent 47 tick and more about The Agency. However, the story thins out quickly with one-dimensional gimmick-laden characters and plot turns that are odd rather than thrilling.
Paper-thin story aside, Hitman: Absolution is a worthy addition to the series and a refreshing and challenging take on action-stealth. Gameplay has been refined and both combat and stealth actions are smooth and intuitive. The lighting, music and environments are impressive while the varied missions, level design and point system make this game so much fun to play and replay.
Hitman: Absolution is rated M for mature and is available now for Xbox 360, PS3 and PC.
Popular in SciTech
- iPhone 5S and low-cost iPhone said to be multicolored
- Android 4.3 pops up in the wild after skipping Google I/O
- Weird pirate ant comes with an "eye patch"
- Apple's next iPhone may be coming in June
- Delta 4 rocket boosts military comsat into orbit
- Ashton Kutcher on Twitter: "Media kind of f***ed it up"
- New Flickr comes with 1 terabyte free storage
- Can a floating robot save a polluted canal?