The Hitman franchise is a series I come back to time and again. There’s something I love about stealthily setting up intricate plans to eliminate your target, rather than just running and gunning your way through the game.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Hitman series, the story is centred on the world’s most dangerous assassin, Agent 47, a genetically altered clone who killed his creator, and will take on any job no matter how big (if the price is right).
Absolution is set in a dip in 47’s career; the Agency has recovered from its destruction in the previous game and is more powerful than ever. Your first assignment is to eliminate a rogue member of the Agency, your former handler Diana Burnwood, who has stolen a vital agency asset. Near the end of the mission you discover the asset is a genetically modified 14 year old girl that the Agency hopes will be the next ultimate assassin. Out of loyalty to his former handler 47 turns his back on the Agency to defend the girl at all costs. The story line plunges you into a world where Agent 47 is pincered between the powerful Agency and the henchmen of a brutal arms dealer.
From the very start, Hitman Absolution is a very different game to its predecessors. In Blood Money you were given one map for each level and could go where you wanted. Absolution takes a more linear approach, the levels being made up of a series of smaller areas that you go through in a specific order. There are many other alterations in the gameplay, including the disguises; in Blood Money wearing a disguise would grant you access to certain areas but anyone could grow suspicious of you. In Absolution on the easier difficulties the disguise will stop people who aren’t wearing a similar outfit from suspecting you. So if you’re dressed as a chef the cops won’t suspect a thing; well unless you pull out a gun!
The story line plunges you into a world where Agent 47 is pincered between the powerful Agency and the henchmen of a brutal arms dealer.
Absolution also seems to have borrowed some features from other games; your ‘instinct’ is very similar to Eagle Vision from the Assassins Creed games. Using ‘instinct’, your targets will be highlighted in red, and you can access the very cool point shooting ability. Select your enemies quickly and Agent 47 will take them out swiftly with precise accuracy, which strongly echoes VATS from Fallout 3.
The ways in which you can eliminate your targets have also drastically altered. You’ll have to make do without your iconic Silverballer pistols for a while until you earn some cash. The syringes have been removed and your sniper rifle appears just a few times.There is a greater reliance on what you find in the landscape, such as golf clubs, enemies’ weapons and even a land mine or two! There are also several other very satisfying ways to eliminate your targets. You can frequently electrify metal objects; one gang member made a grave mistake after he relieved himself on a metal drainpipe! You can also cause tunnel collapses, activate a mine field and set a guy’s head on fire instead of a cure for baldness.
One or two negatives include the fact that you can’t go backwards in a level. You also have to find specific checkpoints to save the game which are often hidden in the most obscure places you could imagine; broom cupboards included. NPCs also have a habit of getting suspicious far too easily; if you dress as a cop in a massive city, in reality it’s doubtful other officers will instantly recognise you as not one of them.
Whilst Blood Money is orientated around money, Absolution leaves you feeling that you have done the right thing. For once in his life, and the franchise, Agent 47 has put a person’s life over money. It is a great game which has the feel of like Hitman but with a new and interesting touch.