The Latest

Hitman Absolution Review

Hitman Absolution Review The game industry’s holiday period is similar to Hollywood’s summer blockbuster season- both are bursting with visceral, big-budget thrill rides fated for the top of the charts. From Need for Speed: Most Wanted, Call of Duty: Back Ops 2 to Halo 4, many of the annual year-end titles have focused on delivering unremitting action sequences. When Hitman Absolution’s “Attack of the Saints” trailer exhibited the type of unrealistic gunplay that was wholly uncharacteristic for the series, many wondered if Agent 47’s typical tension would be overpowered by straightforward shootouts.

Mercifully, developer IO Interactive’s concessions are largely discretionary, bestowing additional difficultly levels which allow Hitman’s autonomous, stealthy mechanics to be enjoyed by a wider audience. Throughout the title’s succession of twenty stages, missions are still the wonderfully deliberate and thorny puzzles that have cultivated a fervent fanbase. Much of the franchises’ appeal stems from its variety, with players discovering an assortment of methods to complete each gritty assignment. While the option to blast your way through a section is always available (and unlike 2006’s Blood Money, every guard won’t be instantly altered) Absolution is not a game for those requiring turbulent firefights.

Hitman Absolution ReviewThe title’s most notable inclusion is Instinct Mode- which grants the morose mercenary a multitude of new abilities. From highlighting the location of key environmental objects or spotting guards tucked around corners, a press of the right bumper permits players to see the world from 47’s practiced perspective.  When passing past suspicious snoops, the button even allows the protagonist to obscure his face with a hand, augmenting the agent’s chameleon-like qualities. Smartly, these capabilities are prohibited from overexploitation by being tied to a gauge- with the game’s highest difficulty level significantly tempering any assistance.

Yet, that’s just one example of how Absolution’s five levels of challenge radically alter gameplay. Playing on Expert or Purist not only raises the artificial intelligence of foes, but also increases their numbers. In execution this often forces players to uncover additional addition approaches to each stage. While the game’s sandboxes are woefully smaller this iteration, an increased amount of interactivity as well as the number of mayhem-making opportunities have increased significantly.

Hitman Absolution ReviewWisely, Absolution is strategically ambiguous about alerting players to 47’s range of destructive possibilities. Each end of level analysis conveys nebulously named feats, spurring players to revisit levels for fresh ways to circumnavigate each mission. Despite allusions from last summer’s teaser trailer, Hitman is still about the painstaking prowl of each level, tasking players to recon possibilities and interpret the clues embedded in NPC conversations before putting a merciless plan into motion.

Returning hitmen will immediately notice 47’s improved interplay with the environment. A new cover mechanic allows the protagonist to skulk the environment with an athleticism absent from previous entries. Coupled with an indicator which reveals guard awareness, sneaking feels much more precise. Now, approaching a sentry from behind no longer results the arbitrary detection by a mark. Naturally, cover makes an ideal location to snipe a lone guard with a silenced silverballer and when foes are alerted, these hideaways make Hitman much less of an inept bullet sponge.

Hitman Absolution ReviewWhile exchanges of gunfire are discouraged, Absolution does endorse surreptitious headshots on lone guards. Pleasingly, the Precision Shot mechanic confers greater exactitude during an eerily authentic trigger pull. A gentle touch on the right trigger reduces the size of your crosshairs, allowing for pinpoint accuracy before a final, fatal pull. Alternatively, Point Shooting recalls Splinter Cell’s ‘Mark and Execute’ command, permitting players to target individual enemies before releasing a barrage of bullets through the bonces of foes.

Wisely, Absolution’s scoring system encourages using brains over brawn to dispatch your mark. Each non-essential killed steals points, although depositing bodies in each level’s liberal number of dumpsters removes the penalty. Conversely, using indirect methods such as manipulating the environment or poisoning adds to your score- with a real-time indicator removing any sense of uncertainty. Regretfully, the game’s checkpoint system isn’t as adept. While the limited number of saves in previous franchises possessed a taut feel, Absolution’s infrequent, single-use checkpoints feel like a stop backwards.

Hitman Absolution ReviewIn theory, the game’s Contracts component, which allows players to construct their own missions from the stage’s pre-built levels sounds gratifying. Gamers simply identify an NPC target, using Absolution’s array of weapons, costumes to execute the mark. Asynchronously, competitors try to beat the player’s time and score, while complying with the same homicidal variables. Although Contracts is gratifying, it will likely leave players yearning for more independence. Being able to build your own custom milieus instead of using the game’s existing ones would have exponentially more enjoyable.

With many franchises providing annual iterations, Agent 47’s six and a half year hiatus seemed like an eternity for series supporters. Fortunately, Hitman Absolution was worth the wait. Barely acknowledging contemporary inclinations in gaming, the title is a thoughtful, protractedly-paced stealth puzzler which stays true to its roots. While Sam Fisher may have sought stardom through simplified mechanics, Agent  47 remains the stalwart slayer he’s always been. Bless his murderous, old soul.

About Robert Allen

With over 35 years of gaming experience, Robert 'DesertEagle' Allen is Tech-Gaming's resident worrier/warrior who spends his days teaching at three colleges and his nights devoted to JRPGs.

29 comments

  1. ‘Bout time you guys review it!

    Just pulling your chain. Good write up.

  2. I don’t think Deagle is easing up on the length of his reviews any time soon.

    (Sitting down to read this epic)

  3. I’ve never played a Hitman game. A few years ago, stealth games seemed pretty boring to me. But then I guess a grew up a little. Played some Metal Gear, and the rest they say is history.

    • I also haven’t played a Hitman Game. Part of the problem was Blood Money for 360 went out of print. I should have grabbed it when I had the chance.

  4. Good review.

    Deagle, you know you guys are banned in Barracuda’s Web Filter. I used to be able to read the site at work, but now it’s under “Gaming and Game Media” and locked. So I apologize if I read Polygon more (not banned).

  5. Do any of the games explain why Agent 47 is so weird looking. Big bald guy with a bar code on the back of his head. Is he even human?

    Don’t you think people would notice that?

    • You must be looking for a permaban. 😉

      It’s been said on the podcast that Deagle looks like 47. Big, bald white guy.

      But going by his giggle, it sounds like he wouldn’t hurt a fly.

  6. Picked it up from Red Box and I’m really liking it so far.

    About the only thing that drives me crazy is that people in your same outfit will identify that you’re an imposter. Makes sense for small groups, but not for big police forces.

  7. Death from ignited by fireworks and bad cocaine so so hilariously evil. GOTY contender for me.

    • Ive been noticing some really divided opinions on Hitman. A lot of people talking about bugs and AI problems. I didn’t see too many problems and I’l more than halfway done with it.

      It’s probably 7-8 hours long for people who want to know.

      • I played through all but the last two missions. AI can be annoying on the harder difficulties, but I haven’t seen too many bad glitches. Just minor stuff and on freeze (which may have been from the power, since the light was flickering that night)

    • I really need a B1G1 Free for this and Far Cry 3.

  8. Good review but you took too long.

  9. They seriously need to patch this crap. Bad AI, Costumes that people see through. Looking around corners and having the AI stop you. IO we deserve better.

    Oh, and A- my ass.

  10. I read that IO plans to split the game between two developers (Like COD) so they can make a Hitman game very year now.

  11. I tried to Red Box this. Sold out. Game Fly wait is pretty long. What’s a wannabe Hitman to do?

  12. Better review than Gamespot’s 7.5 review. Sometimes I wonder what their reviewers are thinking. I thought maybe they’re just being tougher on games, but then they give a turkey an 8.5 or 9 and prove me wrong.

    Played about 5 hours of Hitman so far. I really like it. I’m glad they didn’t screw with the series.

    • Just finished the game. Got it from Redbox, but I think I’m going to have to buy it. There’s a ton of ways to kill that I didn’t explore.

  13. Is each level always the same (enemy patterns and stuff like that). The whole Ground Hog Day effect isn’t for me. I like having to improvise.

  14. Those screens look kind of washed out. Is the game like that too?

  15. Can you finish the game without firing a shot?

  16. Really good review. Putting Hitman on my Christmas list.

  17. Stop by my webpage: website (Rose)

  18. WTF does that even mean, Margot?