Published on January 10th, 2013 | by Richard Motokovsky0
Hitman Absolution – Review
Summary: Not quite the original assassin' but Agent 47 is back in business
Classic Hitman is something of a novelty, especially by today’s standards of what we’d call Assassin. It rewarded trial and error, experimentation, and patience above action and gore. Hitman was not a game to be rushed for the kill but instead studied to death. A hit wasn’t a success if it wasn’t executed absolutely perfectly.
After a six-year hiatus, Agent 47 seeks to reclaim his title of the original assassin among all the hooded gentlemen and masked crusaders out for his throne, reminding fans of his skills and the new ones tucked under his cuffs.
Despite his pristine attire, story isn’t Agent 47’s best suit. Given a contract to assassinate his former handler Diana, Agent 47 lands himself in protective duty of a young girl and caricature villains seek to frame him, forcing him to go on the run.
It’s the story that sees you trudge through some of the game’s duller and more linear stages but brush that aside and Absolution digs deep into its roots. Take the bustling Chinatown, an area you’ll visit more than once, and one that becomes a playground of opportunity. One such stage tasks you with eliminating three targets strutting around Chinatown in the midst of a celebration.
You could take out one of the stall vendors to steal his sharp cooking knives or you could use this role to poison your wares and sell them to your hungry target.
Listening to conversations, experimenting with items and patrol patterns… some of the more linear levels lack these Hitman hallmarks. But there’s always more than one way to approach a situation – including guns blazing, although to be honest, it’s hardly recommended. Disguises are the bread and butter of Hitman, whether slipping out of your tailored suit to disguise yourself as a henchman or policeman on patrol to stop you from infiltrating, or in a giant chicken suit picking out your targets.
A few of nuances make Absolution slightly easier on new arrivals. Instinct acts as a cop-out way of passing by guards unnoticed, assuming you’ve made some effort to conceal your identity. This will also reveal patrol patterns and highlight points of interest. Trial and error is made a lot more bearable, thanks to checkpoints that can be activated around each stage and a mark-and-execute style mechanic suggest Agent 47 has been sharing notes with Sam Fisher.
This all depends on the difficulty level you choose to approach Absolution in. Players picking easy will benefit from regenerating instinct, hints, more checkpoints, and slower reacting enemies. Move up the raft of five difficulties and these are slowly stripped away leaving purist mode where not even the interface remains intact.
Those looking to find more of a challenge can venture outside the campaign and into Contracts. This online mode allows players to create and share their own hits from a number of scenarios plucked from the campaign. You do so by replaying the mission, setting the conditions along the way and marking up to three targets for your hit.
It’s an odd but unique method of creation and seeing how other players will approach your contract is bound to be appealing to old Hitman fans.
The story is throwaway and as a result, so are a handful of its levels. Contracts is a novel idea but the crossover of its point scoring system into the campaign is baffling. It’s not as brainy as the originals but Hitman Absolution is a faithful reminder of the stealth games of yore and puts many of its contemporaries to shame.