Hitman: Absolution Review
publisher: Square Enix
developer: IO Interactive A/S
genre: Action Adventure
|ESRB rating: M
release date: Nov 20, 12
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Seven years seems like an eternity if you're a fan of the Hitman series, because that's exactly how long it took Eidos and Io Interactive to continue the story about the infamous silent assassin, Agent 47. The problem with the Hitman games was they were always a mixed bag of delights and disappointments, no matter how much Io Interactive strived to improve the franchise. The series remained true to its core stealth-oriented gameplay mechanics, on top of conveying a satisfying range of features for those who prefer action. This time around, the devs continue in the spirit of the previous installments. Be that as it may, we've been waiting for this one for way too long and it's time to find out if the wait was worth it.
Hitman: Absolution kicks off when our hero, the bald-headed Agent 47, is sent by the Agency to take out a target. Not just any target, but Diana Burnwood, the sole handler for operative Agent 47. Their cooperation lead to countless successful missions, which have almost always been flawlessly executed. However, Diana becomes yellow-flagged and top ranking handler Benjamin Travis issues an investigation, accusing her that she's a liability to the agency. Issuing a kill order Diana, Benjamin decides to send Agent 47 to carry out the mission, despite his personal connection with target. In addition to being 47's handler, Diana was also responsible for saving his life. Even so, he cold-heartedly accepts the mission, pledging not to allow his personal feelings to get in the way.
Even a hitman can appreciate a good sunset.
Let's do this the silent way.
Constructing a concise and satisfying narrative clearly wasn't much of a priority for the development team. What starts as a delicious and intriguing tale, eventually crumbles into a half-assed plot with corny villains and generally disappointing backstories surrounding various NPCs. The general premise has great potential, as always, especially the story between Agent 47, Diana and a little girl who's sought after by the Agency and every baddie in the game. Sadly, the link between these three key characters did not get enough attention. In terms of characterization, we're introduced to one cliché after another. In that respect, Hitman: Absolution fails to impress and basically undermines itself with a lackluster story, which otherwise oozes with potential. The situation is salvaged a bit thanks to the decent voiceovers, although that's still not enough to make up for a story that's obviously underwritten.
Getting into Hitman: Absolution has its advantages. If you prefer stealth-based gameplay with a variety of approaches to each given situation, then this game is definitely your cup of tea. Io Interactive included an impressive number of moves when it comes to taking out opponents silently. Throughout the game, there's always a choice to eliminate foes without making a fuss. Every guard can be handled lethally or non-lethally. It's entirely up to you. The sweet thing is that every mission in the game can be carried out without making a sound and just slipping past a horde of guards, without them even knowing you were there. Both lethal and non-lethal approaches have their appeal. Of course, the non-lethal way is often the hardest. Passing through undetected means you have to time your actions perfectly or you'll alert enemies. There are numerous ways of distracting sentries or fooling them with a range of disguises. About a few hours into the game, and you'll be hooked to be sure. Hitman: Absolution offers a decent choice of alternative ways to end each mission objective.
We hit our first snag when we recognized some pretty inconsistent AI behavior. Half the time, enemies will be quite hard to overcome and they usually notice you straight away, if you're not careful. On the other hand, we've experience serious flaws in the AI, triggering some awful reactions from enemies. For example, during one of the assassinations, 47 has to enter a crowded club and take out the owner. Entering the club's restricted area, I took out one of the bodyguards. People who were on the dance floor noticed this, even though I knocked out the guard behind a wall and made absolutely no sound during the takedown. Bystanders in the club immediately alerted guards in the area and that spelt the end of my stealth approach. Once again, there was absolutely no way they could've heard or seen the takedown. It was most irritating. Similar situations occurred many times throughout the game and it spoiled the fun, not to mention the challenge. At the same time, when guards are alert, they sometimes easily notice you from a mile away, which comes across as another AI glitch.
The sheer amount of options when dealing with enemies, a lot of weapons on offer, the game is generally entertaining for both action fans and those who prefer stealth-based gameplay, great music and solid visuals;
AI glitches spoil the challenge and the fun, squandered potential when it comes to the story, gets repetitive after a while.