Hitman Absolution review
Hitman series belong amongst the most popular in world of gaming, and with Hitman: Absolution they seem to have finally crossed the boundary into the realm of blockbuster gaming titles. Inevitably, as such, this game draws an additional attention to itself, and this sequel may very well have received the most mixed reviews, dividing the fans and players. Is this game merely a glorified, poorly done console port, or a worthy successor to the previous Hitman games? In effect, everyone will have to make that decision for themselves, but for now, allow me to share my own, modest impressions with you, my respected readers.
Alas, a snippet from the story that is the foundation of the Hitman: Absolution game; beware, dar be spoilerz ahead! Diane, the mysterious contract-giveaway lady whose voice became one of the series’ trademarks, has decided that the mysterious Agency had to be stopped. Using all her intimate knowledge of this extremely secretive organization, she sabotaged and crippled them, almost managing to destroy them for good. But now, a restored Agency is rising from their own ashes like a phoenix, and one of their first targets is Diane. Agent 47 gets the mission to eliminate her, perhaps the only person he might care for in the entire world, and – beware, more spoilers, you may want to jump to the next paragraph to continue reading more about gameplay! – after he finds her hideout and eliminates all her protectors, 47 finds himself in the essential conflict between his killer instincts and his emotions. Alas, he shoots Diane down, though plagued with feelings of remorse and guilt, but with her dying breath, Diane both forgives him and begs him to protect the mysterious little girl that is so valuable to the Agency. The schizm between 47 and his employers is now complete, and he rebels against them. At this point, as the saying goes, all bets are off and the proverbial feces is on the straight trajectory towards a fast rotating fan.
So much about the story, if you care about it. It seems to be the thorn in the side of some folks out there, since there are some – rather loud – players that complain that Hitman: Absolution is too much story driven, not giving enough freedom, ending up being too linear.
Freedom in Hitman Absolution
Honestly, don’t expect a Hitman game to have a scope of a GTA or a Mafia game, that will never happen. As before, these titles would have a map of limited size and, by the very nature of things, limited variations and solutions to the each mission. Horrifyingly enough, this time the reviewers from many sites complained that there are “too few options” to complete missions and that the entire game is basically “too story driven” so that I had my doubts before starting this game at all. But as soon as I played the first “real” mission (warning, more slight spoilers!) where you get the contract to kill a target in the middle of Chinatown, the so-called crime King of Chinatown, most of my trepidations were gone. Even though it may sound as if your choices are limited, the truth is quite different, this mission alone had many different ways you could dispose of your target, so many that, in fact, that I am not sure of covering them all! First off, if we don’t count the classic lone gunman approach where you blast the target and everyone who comes to his aid to hell, you can poison him in no less than three different ways (poison his food, his coffee or his drugs), you can blow him up with explosives, you can shoot him with a sniper rifle, push him down the opened service shaft, garrote him in the dark alley or the stairway to his drug dealer, hell, you could even shoot at a chain holding an overloaded pallet in the air, making it drop on top of the (urinating) “King” and actually make it look like an accident! Now, seriously, does this sound like a lack of options?
There were a lot of complaints about how there is little freedom to the gameplay because of the story. It is true in so far that the story says that 47 will, at some specific time during the game, get his ass kicked by a certain baddie, and that the story will end up a certain way no matter how skilled a player you are. If this should be a deal breaker for you, well, in that case, don’t get Absolution. But honestly, between us, this is a bit of drama queen stuff. Its a decent story, even though the cool guy sometimes talks too much for my taste. Bit more of “silent killer a la Pale Rider” would be just perfect, but all in all, it is as good as it gets in today’s games.
Stealthy assassin or a natural born stormtrooper?
Alas, now, the approach to Hitman games and the philosophy of the stealth killer, disappearing into the night after the dirty deed is done, unseen and unheard, only leaving a lifeless body of the target behind. There seem to be a decent number of “purists” out there that claimed that a player needs freedom and, by that, they think how player should be forced to play as a stealth assassin. Cute, ain’t it? In my own humble and personal opinion, a true Hitman game will enable the player to take both the stealth approach as well as the mad gunman on steroids approach. I’ve recently written about my olden Hitman Contracts experiences, the Meat King’s Party in particular, and how I simply loved the fact that you could approach the game in both ways. First, I took the stealth route and “cleaned” up the Meat King alone, no collateral damage, no witnesses, perfect, clean kill. Second time around, I walked towards the entrance calmly, shooting down the guards with the Hitman’s trademark silenced silver guns, entered the building and proceeded killing any target in my path, all the time walking that cool Agent 47 walk as if I was strolling through the park on a Sunday afternoon. Yes, with enough skill and good aiming, you could pull it off and kill everyone in your path, leaving the scene of massacre on your way out. Ever seen Ghost Dog: The Way of Samurai, the scene where he simply storms the house where the mafia guys were holding that girl? Nuff said. Sometimes, that approach is the most fun of them all!
If you share this author’s opinion that Hitman games should be open for all styles of play and not force one to always take the silent route, then you will love Hitman: Absolution. Should you decide to charge in, guns blazing, be aware of two things; yes, you will probably die, even on normal setting, but if you are good, fast and precise enough, you can get away with it. That is refreshing, because even though for the most part, you will want to be that stealthy, murderous stalker there are parts where you will just be dying to go on a rampage. The perfect example for that was the mission in campaign taking place in an orphanage hospital, run by nuns (erm, not those we’ve seen before in Hitman trailer, but real nuns instead), that gets overrun by a bunch of murderous goons that are looking for the girl that 47 hid there to keep her out of the reach of agency. After witnessing the bloodshed, the only decent thing left to do is kill every last one of them, and that in the most brutal, direct way possible. True, garotting an unsuspecting goon can be fun, but there is also a great deal of fun in blasting him point blank with a 12 gauge shotgun.
Instinct of a Hitman
For the last of the controversies, there is the bit with the instinct. Similar to Batman’s detective vision, instinct enables Hitman to essentially “sense” enemies through the walls, predict their movement paths, determine important and interactive objects in the world around him and, as probably the most important part, he will be able to zone in on the kill targets. Instinct gets spent and recharges with certain actions, but some of the more “proactive” features of the instinct story are the enhanced hiding when someone decides you are suspicious (like pulling the brim of your hat and looking to the side when passing them by) or the “speed shooting” mode, where you will “halt” the time, aim on several opponents and witness a Matrix style execution once you confirm that action. The latter burns a lot of your instinct, but it is well worth the show you are getting.
I could go on and on about Hitman: Absolution, but there is little point to that; you are either sold by now or have decided that this game is not the right thing for you. Personally, I can say that I am very happy to find myself absolutely enjoying this Hitman sequel. Absolution is a great, exciting experience, both elaborate in its tactical approach and entertainingly satisfactory in its bloody, gore filled moments of action and violence. There are some minor annoyances, like the inexplicable red-neon luminescence of Agent 47′s shiny head on some occasions, which does in fact look rather ridiculous, as well as the fact that you can’t customize your weapons before a campaign mission, but nothing that is a major, game-breaking issue. In essence, Hitman: Absolution is exactly what most players wanted from this game, and despite surprisingly mixed reviews, both from the official press and players, I find myself comfortably enjoying the game in its entirety, and sincerely hope you will be doing the same.
We will be soon doing a complete video walkthrough of the game, adding it to our Game Guide section. Stay tuned!