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Hitman: Absolution
Hitman: Absolution

PC | PlayStation 3 | Xbox 360
Genre: Action
Developer: IO Interactive
Publisher: Square Enix
Release Date:
20th November 2012
Hitman: Absolution Review
Review By @ 11:43am 20/11/12
Absolution – the freeing of blame or guilt, removing consequences and obligations. An interesting title for a game that scores you on how you kill people. Hitman: Absolution may aim to provide depth to its sub-heading through its firmly guided story, but on a meta level it removes consequences and obligations from the player. Don’t worry about actually completing a level – we’ll take that off your hands and enact a cut-scene the moment you press Y at the exit door. Spent the entire level undetected with no kills? Why not kick back and watch us ruin your smooth run with a non-negotiable balls-up of your mission? The story is important, so stop your whining.

This is the attitude directed at the player throughout Absolution’s single-player mode. IO Interactive has a story to tell and it won’t let player agency get in the way. The directed narrative often ruins missions, taking the controller from your grip and putting Agent 47 into far too many action man sequences for any Hitman fan to feel entirely comfortable. Having Agent 47 as a front-on, walking, talking protagonist feels a bit wrong. We don’t need to like him, we just need to be him.

Whereas Blood Money felt varied, exciting and experimental – a “cool locations” tour funded by target dossiers – Absolution suffers from its straight shooting story. It is limited to similar looking locales, all of them dingy, rain-slicked and realistically cluttered. Even outside environments have a stained yellow tinge. This is in line with Absolution’s artistic direction, but part of what made Blood Money (and previous titles in the series) so interesting was the juxtaposition between the bright, sunny, everyday locations and what Agent 47 was there to do.

Absolution still has a Hitman feel, it’s just buried beneath several new layers. There is still the feeling of stalking your prey, following their movements and executing a plan. Bereft of the support of The Agency, 47 has fewer tools at his disposal and must rely instead on exploring each level and utilising what can be found in the environment. This immediately removes a large chunk of your sense of power. Absolution is more about finding and throwing a glass bottle to distract patrolling guards than it is planting explosives in a bucket of chicken at a wedding. It’s not until four hours into the campaign that you retrieve your iconic silverballers back. While explosives and the like can be scrounged in some levels, your first playthrough feels severely underpowered. Guards are inherently suspicious and more often than not your escapes descend into absolute chaos.

Disguises work a little differently. Whenever you pacify someone, be it through a sleeper hold or snapped neck, you have the option to take their clothes as disguise. All other NPCs wearing your disguise will be suspicious of you if you get too close. Their suspicion is represented by a yellow directional indicator and by repeating lines of amazing dialogue such as, “Hey, where have I seen that guy? Was it a movie?” Using Instinct (by holding RB) or backing off are your only options to avoid your cover being blown. If you burn Instinct, Agent 47 dips his hat and passes on through, but this depletes the resource very quickly. The other main use of Instinct is to instigate a tag-mode execution, where you enter into slow motion and tag enemies. This chews through Instinct even quicker than remaining inconspicuous, but it does look cool to take out three goons in one second.

Instinct runs through the entire design of Absolution, primarily due to the new ability to hold down RB at any time and see enemy outlines and patrol patterns through walls. Think of it like Arkham City’s Detective Vision, only in a Hitman game. Yeah, it’s weird. The effect this has on the tone of the game cannot be understated. This is a game about using Instinct all the time. Patrol patterns and enemy placement are so dense and scattered in Absolution’s small levels that you need to use this ability to survive. It’s not an unpleasant ability by any means, but it changes how you play.

A wonderful thing about previous Hitman titles was how you could gauge the social awareness of those around you. Did she see me do that? Is she acting a bit weird? Should I keep going or stop for a while and observe some more? Instinct removes this layer completely, reducing NPCs to glowing red and yellow chess pieces. Knowing where characters will walk and whether or not they are the prime target strips back Absolution to a puzzle game with a plain board. The lack of social observation is keenly missed and reduces the impressive crowd system to nothing more than groves of people-shaped foliage to hide in.

Absolution is a competitive game. This is apparent in the money ranking that updates in real-time as you play missions. Information will pop up regarding the AU and Global average score for each level. As you play, Agent 47 levels up his skills and abilities passively and these increase your chances of doing well. Although it’s not made clear, you can also unlock and upgrade weapons using cash earned in the Contracts mode, the second half of Absolution. Your first playthrough of the campaign is meant to be sloppy. A difficult list of Challenges exists for each mission and it’s made clear that these require several replays in order to attain. They also unlock permanent score multipliers. It is unfair to judge the game on your first run, as it is entirely possible to complete levels quickly, messily and without much effort. You might feel that there is little depth, however, it’s upon replay, with new skills and knowledge at your disposal, that you’ll start to peel back the secretive possibilities to each situation. One level may have four or five clever ways to take out a target with no dirt on your hands. If you are a competitive player, there is depth here for sure.

Contracts is a player-directed high score challenge for any mission and combination of targets. To set a challenge, you enter a level of your choosing, tag your targets and take them out. This sets the score to be beaten and the targets that other players must eliminate. New challenges will be set by players all the time, with the creative and difficult ones no doubt rising to the top of the list. Contracts highlights the tight sandboxes of Absolutions environments, as well as the complex interplay between NPCs and their environment. This mode will need time to breathe before we can be certain of its longevity, but it is presented well and the option to set up personal challenges with invited online players should provide some interesting rivalries between global audiences as well as just between friends.

Hitman: Absolution has muddied its waters. The story is interesting enough and full of wacky characters and situations, but it has lost that clinical, professional feel that the series perfected in Blood Money. Levels are simpler and smaller in scale, with the game taking control away from you at crucial moments, turning the story into directions that bely how you acted during the interactive portions of gameplay. Disguises become frustrating games of avoidance, to the point where it’s almost easier to just stick with Agent 47’s suit.

The lack of powerful tools has an impact on how you can interact with levels, making your first run through the game a very direct and personal one. Only through replays are the nuances of each situation revealed. This may sound like Absolution is a bad game. It isn’t – it’s just a bad Hitman game. Features bleed from other games and the bizarre need to position Agent 47 as an action man with feelings and a rough moral code has diluted its identity. That said, there is deep replay value, both in the single-player and Contracts modes. The challenges will keep you playing singular levels for hours and we will no doubt see some amazing hits come to light over the course of the game’s life. Contracts will be the main reason to keep Absolution in your console, and we can smell the extended DLC for this mode already.
What we liked
  • High replay
  • Some satisfying hits when things go right
  • And also when things go wrong
  • Contracts allows you to send personal challenges to friends
What we didn't like
  • nstinct removes the social observation element
  • Cut scenes intrude on levels
  • Areas are generally quite small
  • Stealth not stalking
We gave it:
Latest Comments
Posted 12:59pm 20/11/12
Posted 07:41pm 20/11/12
Sadly unsurprised, given the media releases and that trailer it seemed kind of inevitable that it would fall this way. I could live with a more "compressed" Hitman game but hearing that you "have" to use "instinct" is disappointing, more disappointing is the mention that your clinical approach to a hit is ruined by some cutscene that makes those efforts useless.
Posted 12:47pm 21/11/12
Damn. Should have a read a review before buying.
Posted 01:32pm 21/11/12
lol. Did you preorder for the phat loot?
Posted 02:14pm 21/11/12
Anyone here watch Good Game on ABC?
GG and QGL being my trusted review sources, this week they interestingly had pretty much the opposite to say about Black Ops and Hitman.
Posted 02:20pm 21/11/12
i was suprised GG gave it such good scores. Baj even said it was his most favourite stealth game of all time.

last edited by ravn0s at 14:20:09 21/Nov/12
Posted 02:55pm 21/11/12
Love GG. Gotta watch it, taped it.
Posted 03:41pm 21/11/12
Baj even said it was his most favourite stealth game of all time

Does he normally like really hardcore stealth games though? It seems to me, from various reviews I've read, that it doesn't appeal to people who like really hardcore stealth-in-and-assassinate type of games, cos it takes liberties and isn't too strict and uses cutscenes and quicktime events and other stuff during assassinations, etc. But for people who aren't huge fans of stealth games, but like cool action games with some stealth thrown in, those types seem to be liking it.
Posted 04:09pm 21/11/12
i was expecting GG to pan it and was surprised when they liked it so much, almost made me want to try it, then i remember i have no time for gaming :(
Posted 06:03pm 21/11/12
I pre ordered way back thinking the steam price of $45 was a mistake and to get in before they changed it. Downloaded files last nite, go to play after work today and saying files are corrupt, go thru the checking of files etc. still no good so back to downloading again.
Posted 07:18pm 21/11/12
Sadly unsurprised, given the media releases and that trailer it seemed kind of inevitable that it would fall this way. I could live with a more "compressed" Hitman game but hearing that you "have" to use "instinct" is disappointing, more disappointing is the mention that your clinical approach to a hit is ruined by some cutscene that makes those efforts useless.
i does have purist mode which takes away all sorts of indicators etc. Youll even have to remember how many bullets you have left in your piece.
Posted 09:09pm 21/11/12
Sadly unsurprised, given the media releases and that trailer it seemed kind of inevitable that it would fall this way. I could live with a more "compressed" Hitman game but hearing that you "have" to use "instinct" is disappointing, more disappointing is the mention that your clinical approach to a hit is ruined by some cutscene that makes those efforts useless.

Play instinct mode. Seriously it is beyond hard, it is quite near impossible. You only have a crosshair and that is it.
Posted 09:24pm 21/11/12
GMG would not cancel my pre-order because I activated the sniper challenge code. I thought what the hell, I might as well use it. I am enjoyig it so far, Playing on hard difficulty. The only thing to annoy me is this instinct crap, you can't just try and blend in with out it.
Posted 10:19pm 21/11/12
I've picked it up for dirt cheap and am giving it a bash through on Professional Expert level, Professional Purist level is bloody hard and fun, but I'll give that a full bash on another play through - it's a mode that punishes hard especially when you don't know the levels at all, it's geared towards having played the game already and having prior knowledge of areas etc.. in fact I'm pretty sure it says it there on the description of the difficulty level.

So far the game has that Hitman stalk and plan on the go feel to it that I enjoy though the environments are small and cramped which makes you feel rather unnaturally confined and feels, to me, to go against the grain of the previous Hitman environmental options (as it were). As it is I have used instinct on the tutorial mission and when I was doing the King hit to get an instinct kill in quick so I could vanish away while the opportunity was there. I'm not finding that I need to use it to plot paths as you can still observe patrols and there is a hell of a lot of hiding spaces. Using it though does give you a fairly big leg up on the game, on the "enhanced mode" I imagine it will play almost like amore sneaky cover shooter, albeit with better suits.

I am disappointed with the cut scenes which very much intrude upon my playstyle. 47 is portrayed as becoming more human, being less clinical about his approach to everything so there is an explanation for the "softening" of 47's traditional persona. I actually don't mind the story so far though I think it intrudes into the actual gameplay a little too often and has the habit of attempting to force the one style of gameplay - where as previous Hitman games always generally allowed more open options.

Also GG reviews are very hit and miss for me, there is no way this is the best stealth game ever, not even close to it, but that doesn't mean it can't be someones favourite stealth game (Thief series wins for me in that regard).
Posted 03:31pm 01/12/12
Played Hitman over the years and usually got bored pretty quick, even being a fan of "stealthy + assassin" style games. Didn't plan on buying Absolution but got it the other day when picking up cheap copy of Asassins Creed 3 (suckz goatz ballz) - all in all I reckon this is a bloody good game, highly playable, loads of different ways to approach levels, great graphics and cut scenes. Not a fan of "Action" games but it certainly drops you into the drivers seat. I think they've done a good job with it - would have given it a higher rating imo.
Posted 05:43pm 01/12/12
It looks interesting, but I'm already playing through and enjoying AC3 and I figured I don't need two 3rd person assassin games on the go at once, don't have enough time to play what I've got as it is!

My brother is interested in getting it though, so I might just wait till he gets it then borrow his copy when hes done.
Posted 06:46pm 01/12/12
Finished DLing a 'test' version yesterday. Will see how it plays soon. Looks like they've gone for a more streamlined splinter cell from the gameplay vids i saw which doesnt look too bad.
Posted 08:40pm 02/12/12
I played through the whole game and thoroughly enjoyed it
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