Having waited 6 years since the last Hitman game I couldn’t wait to step back into the shoes of the man who is in my opinion the most dangerous assassin on the planet. In Hitman Absolution we join Agent 47 as he embarks on his latest mission and once again the stakes couldn’t be any higher.
Absolution starts by filling you in on the events which occurred prior to the start of the game. Agent 47 reveals that Diana, who some of you may know from the previous Hitman titles has sabotaged the Agency. This has cost the agency not only many of their agents, but also a lot of money as well as a girl that they had been holding. Due to her actions a kill order has now been issued for Diana, with orders that the captured girl must taken back. Unsurprisingly the person who has been given the contract is none other than Agent 47. This sequence is not only a great way of introducing you to the game, but it also shows you little snippits of the future gameplay.
The main title is split into two sections with players able to choose between playing the main story line or play contracts mode. Excited to see how the hit would go down I decided to start off with the main story.
During the first level you are given guidance from a female voice who gives you helpful hints and advice. This acts like a tutorial for the game and is a great help for those who have never played a game like Hitman before. After being helped to understand the reasons for hiding bodies and taking disguises, you are free to progress through the levels, with each level giving you a very different challenge.
Agent 47 himself has been completely upgraded and is now able to do many new things. An example of this is the addition of hand to hand combat, along with the new ability to climb up walls and across ledges. I found that when playing through the game this gives you a much bigger advantage than before, and also makes Agent 47 Appear much more human. The biggest addition to your arsenal is Instinct mode. Instinct mode is something brand new to the Hitman series and let’s you take full advantage of the experience of Agent 47. In this mode you can not only look through walls and see where people are, but also see where people are going to walk, find objects of use as well as seek out dumpsters and places to hide. As with most powerful abilities in gaming Instinct mode is not limitless. There is a bar that lessens when you use this ability and the only way to fill it up is by doing cleaver things like dumping a body or killing your target properly and with out any witnesses.
The graphics used throughout the game are amazing and the details are astonishing. The look of Agent 47 has changed, in my opinion for the better. As this story carries on from the previous games our hitman looks older and much darker then before. His new appearance fits into the design of the game well and it was easy to see that this been long thought over. In addition to the great graphics the in game sound and music really adds to the sense of drama and danger. With the SFX you can hear every little detail, from the rocks moving when you walk, to the sound of a cleaver hacking into your targets head.
When it comes to the actual gameplay and controls they respond perfectly with no delay. It was really easy to aim and shoot and the added hand to hand combat was just as easy. The new range of killer moves allow you to go through levels either subduing people, shooting them, snapping necks or even just hitting them with something you have picked up. No matter how I went into a situation I knew that Agent 47 would do everything I wanted without any delay, which helped to keep me alive longer than expected. In addition the A.I in the game is very well created. The crowd respond to everything that happens in exactly the manner that you would expect them too and the characters tasked with killing you are very good at making the others around aware of your presence and moving into positions to gain a tactical advantage over you in a gunfight. This use of advanced AI makes trying to traverse a room filled with police far more difficult than you might think.
Every level has been designed to have many different ways of completing it, which means that you can go through a level once and do it one way, but play it again and do it completely differently. This for me, gives Absolution a replay factor of ten. In addition to this every weapon you pick up, every disguise you use and every point you collect unlocks not only improvements on Agent 47 but adds to your clothes and equipment you can use in Contracts mode.
Contracts mode is another new addition to the Hitman universe. This is a part of the game where you can set up contracts on unsuspecting non playable characters, before sending them to your friends to see if they can rise to the challenge and make the kill. Contracts can be set on any level in the game and you can vary certain situations to make it more difficult. This means that the more you collect during your time playing the story mode the better stipulations you can create in contracts mode, and the bigger challenges you can set for your friends.
The maximum targets per level is three and the only way to send a contract is to first complete it yourself and to also flee the scene without being caught. That way anyone you challenge knows that it is possible to fulfill the contract as you have already done it.
The more difficult contracts require you to have amazing skill, and the set up allows you to challenge your friends and see once and for all if they have that same ability as you. Although for some Hitamn will always remain a one player title, I am sure that many others will have hours of mind numbing good fun challenging each other to see who should truly be crowned Agent 47.
When creating a contract the only people you can target are the people of interest that are already on the level such as vendors and police officers. This I hate to say made me feel a little disappointed, as you can only select a few people on the level as a contract instead of anyone you liked. This said the concept of creating contracts was still appealing to me.
Interestingly when looking through contracts mode I also found out that although I was only on the third or forth level in my career mode, I could already access the future levels here. Though at first this made me worried about the possibility of unwanted spoilers, just before entering a future level a warning is put up asking if you wish to continue. With this in place you can decide if you want to continue and possible ruin the game or go back and create a contract on an earlier level.
Overall the game was a lot of fun to play. It was very immersive, and for me a three hour playing session flew by feeling like only one. It wasn’t just fun but also difficult. Though many of the levels were possible to complete quickly this speed was not without cost, as being spotted and shot at often resulted in a huge cost to your point score. Going through a level where you are surrounded by cops and if just one of them spots you its over was one of the most difficult things I have ever had to do in a game, and even though I had to restart that particular level about fifty times, it was worth it.
Hitman Absolution is great comeback for Agent 47. This game not only does the series justice but is also one of the best games I have played this year.
+Amazing graphics and sound
-Only a select targets in Contracts mode
-Level spoiler in Contracts mode
-Random Man 5000
Developed by IO Interactive
Published by Square Enix