The fifth telling of the legendary assassin Agent 47 delivers exactly what fans would want out of a Hitman game. Picking up soon after the events of Blood Money, Hitman: Absolution again puts you into the shoes of 47, a genetically-enhanced clone trained from birth to be a merciless killer for the shadowy organization known only as the Agency. After being betrayed by Diana Burnwood, Agent 47’s handler, the Agency is looking for payback. Agent 47 is given the contract to find and kill Diana and bring a young girl, Victoria, back to the Agency. As Hitman: Absolution takes twists and turns, Agent 47 learns that there is more behind Diana and Victoria than he could ever expect.
The story of Hitman: Absolution does a great job of keeping you engaged as you take 47 through various missions in his efforts to rescue Victoria. It did a great job of keeping me entertained, but at times got a bit unbelievable. If you’re willing to take it with a grain of salt, this game can be great fun. As you murder your way along, you will be presented with a great many opportunities to perfect your craft. One of the best things about this game – and one of the things that fans were most worried would be taken away – is the plethora of methods in which you can take down your target. Poison them? Sneak up and strangle them with piano wire? Set them on fire? Snipe them from a distance? All these options and so many more are yours to explore in Hitman: Absolution – whatever gets the blood flowing, so to speak.
As with previous games, Hitman: Absolution continues the trend of scoring the missions, as your actions will either gain or lose you points. For example, if you take an assault rifle and kill everyone in sight, you will have a low score, possibly even negative. On the other hand, if you manage to slip in undetected and kill only your target, you will be given the rank of Silent Assassin. If this is your play style you will restart often. At times, Hitman: Absolution can get so frustrating that the only thing to do is walk away. If you have activated a checkpoint, hidden at various points in the level, your progress up to that point will be saved. This does not apply to enemies: whatever enemies you have eliminated before activating the checkpoint will be resurrected (hallelujah!), which can lead to some annoying times of being locked in the broom closet with dozens of guards walking around outside the door.
This is somewhat balanced out by the addition of Instinct. Instinct allows the player to see through walls to find points of interest around the level and anticipate an enemy’s movement. It feels a bit like hand-holding at times, but the higher the difficulty, the more of these features will be turned off. This allows you to tailor your gameplay to your preference.
The environments of Hitman: Absolution are reminiscent of past Hitman games, in that they look great, are wide open, and are incredibly unique. One minute you are blending in with a huge crowd in Chinatown, the next you are posing as a scarecrow in a cornfield. They world is very well created: the developers know what the fans want from a Hitman level, and it shows. Yet while the textures and environments of the game look stunning, the character models look lifeless and unmoving. The developers clearly put time and effort into how 47 looks and feels, as with other prominent characters, but at times it seems as if tertiary characters were sacrificed to make this possible. Cut scenes put into stark relief how creepy and lifeless some characters look. A certain unblinking hotel manager comes to mind.
The newest feature of Hitman: Absolution is Contracts, allowing users to create unique missions taking place in different levels of the campaign. Offering more of the same for those wanting more opportunities to stalk their pray, this mode features custom objectives, such as which disguise or weapon you must use to kill your target. To create a mission, you must first choose a level and walk through it and mark an enemy for death. When you kill them, it records what you are wearing and what weapon you used. This ensures that the mission is actually possible to complete. Think of it as the H.O.R.S.E of killing people. Completing each contract according to the objectives will gain you money, which can then be used to purchase upgrades.
Hitman: Absolution has a lot to offer players old and new alike. The story makes you want to kill your targets and gives you interesting and plentiful ways to do it. The game has a few minor faults, notably the poor character models, emotionless cut scenes, and a story that gets a bit complicated at times. The addition of Contracts adds to the longevity and replayability of the game, while giving it the online aspect that modern games feel they need. With games like Dishonored and Assassin’s Creed 3 scratching the bad-ass assassin itch, Hitman: Absolution holds its own with the potent combo of remarkable story and fun, unique gameplay.