By: Eliot G. (Street02 – XBL)
Agent 47 is back and more capable than ever. He is on the run this time, and must be prepared to handle situations like never before. It’s been 6 long years since we’ve last seen Agent 47 in 2006’s Blood Money, and it seems as though I/O Interactive as well as Agent 47 have been sharpening their skills big time.
The situations you are thrown in are exhilarating, intense, and your objectives are crystal clear. How you go about completing them however, is an entirely different game altogether. This is where Absolution shines. The numerous ways for you to complete each level are accessible, as well as challenging. You can finish the whole game guns blazing, C4 flying, neck snapping, knife throwing, or simply pacifying, in your trusty, always adored black suit. Or you can sneak past everyone, changing disguises as you see fit and not touching a soul.
Your main objectives of each level are to take out a target or targets, or to simply get from point A to point B. The mixture and variation of these are implemented very well, and nothing ever feels forced or stale. Each level also has a certain number of challenges that can be completed, which really showcase the numerous possibilities that await you. The layout of each level, and the weapons available, make for an open-world-like experience. For example, on the 2nd level, the first open ended target objective is available. You are to simply locate and execute your target, and escape the level. There are countless ways to do this, but there are about 12 specific challenges that showcase the level’s wide-open-ness, such as the availability of C4, man-holes, poison, and a very nice sniping opportunity. And that’s just one level. Each of the 20 levels, some with multiple missions to complete, throw new and interesting ways to take out your target, on top of the varying challenges.
Finally, you are scored at the end of each mission based on how you completed it. You get bonus points for signature kills, and not being spotted, as well as collecting evidence. If you have to kill someone, you can always hide the body to get some points back. The scoring system is worldwide, and you can always see how your friends did when you are at the level select screen. The scoring can be confusing at times however, because it is possible to go negative, and not all levels can be finished with the silent assassin rating.
There are also numerous unlocks such as weapons and upgrades, techniques (that give Agent 47 permanent stat boosts), and also disguises and play-style badges.
The weapons and upgrades, as well as disguises can be used in Contracts mode, where you create your own custom “Hit” contract, with up to 3 personally selected targets, and your own custom parameters.
I can’t get over how amazing this game looks… The level design is some of the best I’ve ever seen for a level based game (non-open world); and actually, some of the levels are so large, they are literally mini open world experiences. Considering the sheer amount of choices and items/weapons at your disposal, you could simply have a blast just walking around and seeing every nook and cranny.
The game is also very graphic, but the level of violence is determined by your course of action and how you go about your business. If you want tons of blood and slow-motion headshots it’s here. If you want to see bodies flying and limbs going limp it’s here… However, sneaking past everyone and staying undetected throughout the levels has a certain visual appeal as well, because you are staying low, and seeing parts of the levels that you may not see otherwise.
Top. Notch. Everything about the sound is incredible. From the rustling of the crowds, the random NPC dialogue, the scripted NPC dialogue, bullets being fired with and without silencers, explosions and overall melee weapon sound effects are spot on. The music is amazing as well. There are climaxes, sudden silences, and on the spot plateaus when you hide a body or are stalking and taking out your target.
Playing Hitman Absolution just feels so damn good. The controls are smooth and easy to pick up and learn (1st level is an open-ended tutorial). There are melee attacks and throws, hand to hand combat, and of course, weapon combat. There is also dual wielding and of course, stealth kills. The sneaking is spot on, and Agent 47 gets eerily low. Stealth kills are also easy to perform. Taking out your target has never been more fun or exhilarating. There is also a new “Instinct” ability that lets 47 see through walls, and predict guard routes. This ability also allows him to blend in with his surroundings depending on the disguise he is wearing. I found that completing each of the levels’ challenges made me a better agent, as well as multiplied the fun factor ten-fold.
A must buy for Hitman fans, action junkies, stealth assassinators, & “Me against the world players”.