Agent 47 finally returns in Hitman: Absolution and it’s about time because after 6 and a half years he’s in danger of being usurped by other baldy anti-heroes. Breaking Bad’s Walter White and Larry David have enjoyed many an episode on TV but the smartly dressed killer with a red tie surely is the king on computers and consoles.
This time the story’s of a more personal nature. In fact, the hit he’s asked to execute is that of his former boss. Of course things are more complicated than that and the game leads you through 20 levels where not only must you kill creatively, but also escape for your life, as you’re hunted as well.
Games have progressed a lot over the past 6 years and IO Interactive have moved with the times, not only employing ideas from other games such as Splinter Cell, Assassins Creed and Arkham Asylum but also keeping Hitman’s identity. This is definitely not an action game. It can be if you want to run and gun through the levels but you won’t get the high score you want or the satisfaction of those signature kills. Each target can be killed in a number of ways and you’ll find them by exploring, replaying levels and using your ‘instinct’ in the less hard difficulties to give you hints as to how to harm your prey.
Instinct also shows nearby enemies through walls and the path they’re about to take so it comes in very handy when finding cover behind walls and being confident you’re not about to be rumbled. It also depletes heavily if you use it when disguised. Wear an outfit similar to other characters on the map and they’ll become suspicious but if you can hide your face and duck behind cover they’ll see nothing wrong with your behaviour. It’s not very realistic but as a game device it works just fine.
Patience is the key here. In fact if you rush through levels you’ll actually trigger the next dialogue and enemy movement further down the line which can screw up your entire stealthy game plan. Everything is scripted when you’re not discovered which again may be an issue to some players but for me, it means you can learn the maps and behaviours and concentrating on unlocking all the internal achievements for kills, disguises worn and other criteria.
And once you’ve had your fill of single player there’s Contracts to try out which is basically IO’s nod to the fans who’ve been challenging each other in previous Hitman games. Here you basically mark targets and criteria for kills and then act them out. You can then post these online and send them to your friends to beat your times and high score. I can see it becoming something incredibly addictive.
Couple this deep gameplay with great graphics, superb dialogue and characterisation and a dynamic soundtrack and you’ve got a contender for game of the year. It gets a hair-raising 9 out of 10.
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