Back in 2006, many of the Hitman lovers enjoyed the last Hitman title, Blood Money for the last-gen consoles. The gameplay, story, and especially, epic ending of the game left Hitman fans wanting more. Unfortunately, no Hitman game was in sight. Then, in 2009, Square Enix announced they were in development of the FIRST Hitman for the current-gen consoles. After six years, since Blood Money, Absolution is finally upon us. After watching many videos, I was surprised to see the game is a 180 from its last-gen editions of Hitman . Not only have it obviously changed, graphics-wise, it changed gameplay-wise, as well. The question is, are these changes for the better?
CONTRACTS: This is a new addition to the game, which allows players to choose their own targets to take out. Plus, the player can also choose what weapon to use and how he may go about taking out the target. For example, a player can choose to take out a target, but NOT be seen by anyone, when doing so. This achievement will earn the player money for purchase of new disguises, weapons and upgrades. During the campaign, it is best to find as many weapons, items, and disguises as possible, so they will not have to be purchased in this mode.
GAMEPLAY: The game is powered by the Glacier 2 engine, which is highlighted by the physics of CPU AI movements. The movements of 47 are very swift and responsive. In fact, many of 47's movements can be compared to how Sam Fisher's movements are in the Splinter Cell games, which means players can now access cover and look around at a 360 angle. I would also compare the sneaking around to the Metal Gear games, as well. In this game, there are just SO many ways to go about taking out a primary target. On one level, I was given the option to take out a target in 12 different ways. That way could be by taking him out, wearing various disguises, taken him out quietly, poisoning his food, blowing his car up or taking him out with guns blazing. Not to mention, players can get reward for doing so, which enhances the replay value of this game, like no other Hitman title.
What separates Absolution from the previous Hitman games is an increase in interaction. Players do not have to rely solely on weapons to take out enemies, anymore. Unlike the previous Hitman titles, 47 can now use hand-to-hand combat, as well as face-to-face combat tactics. These are cool because he can punch someone. However, the enemy may counter the attack. When this happens, a quick-time event will come up ala Heavy Rain
, which prompts 47 to make another attack and eventually land a lethal blow to his enemy. If not done promptly, 47 might be taken out by an enemy with his OWN counter attack. Also, 47 can use surrounding objects to down foes, as well.
While playing through a level, many items can be picked up and used to distract or eliminate enemies. For example, 47 may see a book. Well, the book can be thrown to distract an enemy, so 47 can sneak by him. Also, 47 can that very book as a weapon, as well. Deadly weapons can be used in the same fashion. Nothing is cooler than seeing 47 throw a knife or an ax at an enemy's head. Speaking of weapons, there are many guns that are available in each level of the game, either by finding it or disarming and enemy. When collected, the weapons will be saved and can be used in contract missions. This also applies to acquired disguises, as well. The only downside to Absolution is 47 can no longer choose acquired weapons, prior to starting a level during the campaign.
If 47 has to take on multiple enemies, no problem! Prior to firing a weapon, there is a new feature called Point Shooting, which allows 47 to mark multiple enemies and take them out with precision ala Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell Conviction
. When this is done, the game will go into slo-mo and 47 will automatically take out those marked enemies. 47 can also climb and hang onto structures. What's more exciting are 47 can now take enemies over the edge or shoot, while standing on them.
The use of disguises has been a trademark of Hitman games. However, in Absolution, they must be used with more caution. For example, if a guard disguise is picked up, it will likely work. However, it is best not to get too close to other guards wearing the same uniform. With that being said, there is a new Blend-in mode. This can be activated, while passing guards. When this is activated, the screen will dim and the game will go into slo-mo. While this is happening, 47 will not look surrounding enemies' eye-to-eye, when passing them. Timing is critical, when activating the Blend-in mode. In addition, he can also "hide". This happens when 47 is wearing a disguise and appear to be performing an action that the person in that disguise would do. For example, 47 can dress as a cop and pretend to eat donuts. On the other hand, he can be disguised as an electrician and pretend like he is working on an electrical panel. There is meter that shows the reliability of the disguise. If the meter goes down, the disguise will slowly lose effectiveness and may eventually be compromised.
If the instinct meter gets TOO low, and a civilian in the enemy's area sees 47, he could get suspicious and start to follow him. He may say, "who are you?" or "you're not fooling me!" Meanwhile, this would be the time to flee or lead this person to a place, where 47 can quietly take this person out because if not, two scenarios happen. First, that person is going to alert enemy guards. While this is going on, a picture of 47's disguise will be shown on the screen. This indicates the disguise has been totally compromised. Meanwhile, a SUSPICIOUS message will appear on the screen and the searching enemies will be shown in yellow on the mini-map. If 47 is out of sight long enough, a CLEAR message will appear on the screen. All of this is also reminiscent of the Metal Gear games.
The second scenario will happen if 47 is seen by an enemy. They might try to subdue 47 or just shoot on sight. If the enemy tries to subdue 47, he can now do what's called a fake surrender. 47 will put his hands up in submission. When the enemy gets too close, 47 can disarm and use him as a human shield, which is also a new feature. When or if this happens, a full alert will commence, which means you have to start shooting. Meanwhile, enemies on the mini-map will be shown in red. Depending on the circumstance, this alert level may not change for quite some time. The best thing to do if 47's disguise is about to be compromised is to try to get away, get another disguise or quietly take a suspicious person out, prior to these scenarios even taking place.
The instinct mode also allows 47 to see which paths enemies will take. The nearby enemy can be seen through walls and it will show a trail, which indicates an enemy route. This is a feature that has similarity to Batman: Arkham City for Playstation 3
. Not to mention, 47 can scan surrounding areas for places and items of interest. Of course, if players believe this feature is too supernatural or make the game too easy, it can be turned off. In addition to disguises, an increase in concealment has been added to the game. In the past, 47 could only hide one body inside of a container or closet. Now, he can hide two bodies. 47 can also hide in a closet or container, rather empty or with a max of one enemy in the container. While hiding, 47 can peek around. 47 can also crawl through vents for concealment or to find an alternate route to another area.
GRAPHICS/VISUALS: Don't be fooled by the 420p/720p output of this game. The graphics are VERY good. They are not quite as vivid as some Sony-based games, such as Uncharted. However, the sharpness, framework, physics and attention to detail are second-to-none.
SOUND: The game has Dolby Digital Surround Sound. Every sound in the game is very realistic. The coolest feature is hearing enemies or civilians carrying on a conversation, which gives the game a very immersive feel. It is very interesting in hearing some of the things that they have to say. Also, when navigating through a crowd, the sound makes the player feel like they are watching a movie.
VERDICT: This game has the graphics, story, and the gameplay that easily makes Absolution the best of the series. Diehard Hitman fans owe it to themselves to purchase this game. The game welcomes new players to Hitman, but if these players still happen to have a last-gen console, they should pick up those editions of the series, as well.