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Hitman:Absolution Review: A Killer's Christmas

The Hitman franchise often strikes that thin line balance between overly homicidal tendencies and sadistic humor. Absolution is no different as it paints a more than cynical view of current America. Drugs? Check. Weapon manufacturing? Check. Morally questionable biological engineering? Check. What keeps people coming back for more however isn't necessarily the backdrop of which the game is placed, but the pure lack of gravitas for which it stands upon. Where anything is a weapon, from the daily used coffee mug to the power cable one would use to start up their computer to read this. From a sheer comparative stance, Hitman: Absolution is the same one would expect of the franchise, which could be exactly what the stealth genre has needed.

The story may not weave a gilded tapestry of ancestral abilities and fighting figure heads, but it is for the most part a competent piece to explain why you're there and doing what it is Agent 47 does best. While fans of the series might have been looking for a more serious and heartfelt tone, the existence of emotion and personal choice by Agent 47 should be enough to show fans that IO interactive understands the need to create a more engaging character (and they are getting a pretty late start). However as one might guess, the beloved (?) hero is outshined by not only the antagonist, but some other smaller roles. That being said the voice work is well done even if some of the characters fall into some stereotypical tropes of all sorts.

Absolution follows up the classic formula by incorporating some previous mechanics as well as adding quite a few such as point shooting and instinct mode. Both of which are closely intertwined since the former relies on the latter. Instinct is gained by kills as well as alternative objectives and challenges that the developers have put into each mission. While it is a nice addition that shows certain NPC path patterns as well as target location, it is very difficult to gain and carry out in later missions. In normal mode, instinct is depleted when using point shooting as well as blending in (which occurs when NPC's begin to notice your disguise). This normally would not be a problem but the difficulty at which it is to gain Instinct in a silent way, and the rate at which it depletes when in disguise can lead to some insurmountable difficulties that take away from the pure pleasure of exploration and exploitation. Often it felt like the disguise almost didn't matter and the same could have been done wearing the standard suit.

Point shooting to is a slight disappointment. While the mechanic works fine, it too suffers from a lack of subtlety as Agent 47 steps out of cover (blatantly exposing himself) to dispose of the targets. It is hard not to make the comparison to the recent Splinter Cell release which doesn't expose Sam Fisher when he also pulls off a tag and kill cinematic. The controls however are tight and responsive and the only real instance where they felt clunky was when 47 has to drag bodies into containers and often geometry or what limb he grabs will not only take you longer to get to the container, but consequentially leaves you longer exposed.

The musical score was enjoyable (especially the music they play when you are in the campaign mode) albeit forgettable and the visuals are stunning. The Glacier 2 engine provides great detail and the visual flair that IO went with the high contrast and dingy atmosphere worked well, as if Drive met some grindhouse flick. The best part being that each mission provides a completely unique experience from the prior one, as well as the one to come. Absolution as well has plenty of replayability, whether it is through alternative objectives that test your mitts or the new multiplayer contract mode which offers an endless sea of creative scenarios created by the community at large. The way you play a mission can be so varied that choice is ironically the best weapon that Agent 47 has for the player, and contracts mode is a great display of IO interactive's fantastic level design. While it may not be perfect, Hitman: Absolution offers a unique experience that few games dare to create.

 

Comments
  • Mod

    Very good review. I appreciated your keen observations.