Hitman: Absolution Review (PC)

excellent
key review info
  • Game: Hitman: Absolution
  • Platform: PC
  • Gamepad support: Yes  
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A review of Hitman: Absolution on the PC

Hitman games gained a loyal cult following due to their distinct emphasis on stealth and improvisation, as the main character, Agent 47, had all sorts of methods to deal with his assigned targets.

With Hitman: Absolution, IO Interactive is trying to get the franchise back to its former glory with a new engine, fresh story, and the same emphasis on stealth, although there are now plenty of systems designed to help those who aren’t as smooth as Agent 47.

Does this new experience manage to honor the legacy of the series or should 47 hang up his suit and get a less violent hobby? Let’s find out.
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Agent 47 is back in action ...
... for a special assignment
Story

The stories of previous Hitman games weren’t exactly their greatest selling points, as you only needed to know that you were Agent 47, a bald assassin that had to complete various contracts supplied by the ICA (International Contracts Agency). Sure, you began to find out all sorts of things about 47’s past and about the nefarious Agency and went through lots of rather intense adventures, but you didn’t really need to focus that much on the plot.

In Absolution, however, the story plays a big role in the single-player campaign. The game begins with 47 accepting a special contract to kill his longtime handler, Diana Burnwood. While it seemed like nothing would go wrong, 47 doesn’t immediately kill her and finds out that she’s protecting a young girl from the Agency, a girl whose fate is quite similar to that of 47.

Spurred by his painful memories at the hands of nefarious doctors, 47 goes rogue in order to escape with the girl from the grasp of the ICA.

What follows is a pretty decent adventure plot that sees 47 explore Chicago and other areas of the U.S. while meeting and promptly eliminating a variety of seedy individuals. Sadly, many of the characters are extremely one-dimensional and almost cartoonishly evil.

You can tell that IO wanted to deliver a pulp experience with over the top characters, but it doesn’t really succeed in this endeavor and certain sections of the story feel hastily written, only to give 47 something to do in between killing actual individuals.



Gameplay

Hitman: Absolution is a Hitman game, in case any longtime fans were wondering about this sequel and whether or not it can actually live up to the experiences of previous games in the series.

During his adventure, 47 will have to eliminate all sorts of seedy individuals, while navigating certain environments and trying to remain as stealthy as possible. This is easier said than done, as while the stealth mechanics work pretty well in many cases, sometimes you’ll be inexplicably spotted by NPCs and have your cover blown.

You explore all sorts of areas during Absolution’s story, ranging from crowded sections like Chinatown or night clubs, to zones where there aren’t a lot of people, like derelict buildings. Every area is filled with different items and rewards players with a score when exiting it. This score is affected by how stealthy you were and just what characters you killed.

As always, 47 can disguise himself with various uniforms and costumes in order to blend in and freely walk around certain areas, instead of sticking to cover or crawling around in vents. There’s a catch to these disguises, however, as the hero can be spotted by others who are wearing the same type of costume. 

As such, if 47 is dressed as a cop and walks near other police officers, they’ll start to get suspicious. While this is definitely realistic, it can get a bit annoying at times, as dressing like a street vendor in Chinatown will make all other street vendors suspicious of you, which doesn’t seem that plausible.

Thankfully, in order to get past these tricky situations, Agent 47 now has a special ability called Instinct, that gets consumed every time players “tap into 47’s special powers.” This allows him to see through walls and spot objects with which he can interact. What’s more, when you’re disguised and approaching a similar individual, you can spend Instinct to make 47 act less suspicious.

Using Instinct depletes it, but you earn some of it back by performing different actions, like subduing enemies and then hiding their bodies. If you’re playing on Easy, then the Instinct automatically recharges after a certain time.

Speaking of difficulty levels, Absolution has a variety of challenges for all sorts of players, ranging from new ones who are just starting out with the series, to veterans that don’t want any help or hint from the game.

Longtime fans will certainly appreciate the array of choices offered by the game in regard to taking out certain targets, while new ones that don’t really like being stealthy will certainly enjoy the improved gunplay and the different tricks that can be pulled by Agent 47, like seemingly surrendering to a character and then taking him out while he’s unaware.

As always, experimentation and level exploration are key, as you can uncover all sorts of alternate methods of taking out a target. Sadly, there aren’t a lot of checkpoints in these levels, so you’ll often be deterred from experimenting with a target because you’ll have to do a lot of work all over again in case you fail.
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Use your Instinct ...
... and surprise enemies
Multiplayer

As weird as it sounds, Hitman: Absolution does have a multiplayer mode, in the form of the special Contracts experience. You won’t be shooting it out with other players competitively, however, as this special mode actually allows you to create your own missions and then task others with completing them as efficiently as possible.

Basically, you start by creating your own Contract, which involves going through a certain level, picking out the target or targets, executing the hit, and then adding various special circumstances. You can then share the contract online and challenge others to complete it.

In case you don’t want to show off your creativity, you can just start completing actual contracts made by others or by IO itself.

The whole Contracts experience is rather fun and quite challenging, so veterans who aren’t exactly thrilled with the story can certainly try out their assassin skills by completing the toughest missions. It also extends the game’s life beyond that of the single-player campaign.



Visuals and Sound

Hitman: Absolution is a gorgeous game largely thanks to IO’s new Glacier 2 engine, which allows it to depict not just a detailed and quite gritty world but also one that feels alive, as it can render hundreds of characters on a level. Sure, there isn’t a lot of variation in terms of character models, but seeing a crowded Chinatown or a strip club filled with seedy individuals is quite impressive.

The environments also look great and the visual quality certainly makes sitting through the cheesy cut scenes a bit easier.

In terms of sound, the game also handles quite well, managing to deliver a decent soundtrack that keeps players on their toes. Voice acting is pretty impressive, even if some of the accents achieved by the villains are a bit stereotypical.

The dialog between actual non-playable characters and even the guards should be noted, however, as not only will you find out great info about your target or about the level, but you’ll also laugh a lot due to the hilarious conversations some people have.

One standout discussion happens between a guard and his doctor on the cellphone, as he just finds out that he doesn’t have cancer. He sounded quite happy and relieved but I was soon forced to pull him out of a window and send him plummeting down a cliff side.
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Explore huge and crowded levels ...
... to take out enemies
Conclusion

Hitman: Absolution is a pretty good game that manages to offer different types of experience for different types of players, whether they’re hardcore stealth enthusiasts or people who don’t really like to crawl around while staying in cover.

Sure, the story isn’t that great and there are some fairly linear sections with very few checkpoints, but the top notch Contracts mode makes up for it by offering fun yet challenging missions that will certainly please the many players who’ll try out this new stealth action game.

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story 7
gameplay 9
concept 9
graphics 9
audio 9
multiplayer 9
final rating 9
Editor's review
excellent
 
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