There were few people I knew who were more excited for Hitman: Absolution than myself. As the only title in the stealth genre that I've supported, it's been a fun ride. With memories that stretch all the way back from the first title, it's been a series that's always sat warmly in my heart. Admittedly, I've been pretty scared of what IO Interactive has to offer since the trainwreck that was Kane & Lynch 2. Suffice it to say I was guarded when I stepped in the world of Hitman once again.
Shoot Me in the Face - The first thing I noticed about this particular stealth title, is the shooting mechanics. Aiming is really nice in most situations and the added point shooting system which lets the player stop time and pick his shots carefully make for a fun shooter. Admittedly, I was pretty surprised at first that this game had as good of shooting mechanics as it did, but it made sense to me as time went on.
Contracting an Addiction - After the game's main campaign is over, what do you do? Go back and replay older levels to try new things? Absolution has an alternative: Contract Mode. In the new mode, which is suggested that players play AFTER completing the main campaign, players compete in an online game of HORSE. One player makes a scenario and completes it with strict guidelines. Any player who decides to take the contract must now play by the original player's rules. Luckily, these aren't impossible rules as the host player has already completed the same objective himself, but expect a noteworthy difficulty when dealing with more experienced players.
Memorable Moments - There are few games that I can remember two weeks after playing them. IO Interactive has made sure this wouldn't be the case with Hitman by providing a variety of scripted scenes that cement themselves in your memory. Whether it's [SPOILER ALERT] going “Lucha Libre” with a 7 foot tall wall of muscle in an octagon or deciding how you'll kill a kid with a limp in a desert, there are plenty of memorable moments in Absolution.
I Have Guns and I'm Going to Use Them - Absolution has a larger arsenal of both ranged and melee weapons, as well as a wide variety of traps that add a much needed entertainment value. There's one scene in the game where you can drop a freaking whale skeleton on top of an army of enemies. In the same scene, you can dress 47 up as a samurai and watch as idiot guards walk by you until you decide to sword (that's a verb now) one of them. There's a lot of creative freedom throughout the game giving you plenty of ways to handle a mission.A Dark Sense of Humor - There's some sick storytelling in Absolution that really makes it funny in the darkest ways. Watching a sheriff answer a phone while being whipped or watching 47 get smacked in the face with a leather paddle are just small things, but they make the world seem so much more alive. Crazy court-hearings and darkened strip clubs give the game some levity to its gritty, sadistic world.
47 SHOULD HAVE RETIRED
Hey, I'm Over Here - I'll start this complaint with a story. While doing the second Chinatown mission, I shot a guy thinking that there was no one watching. To my dismay, a cop who had his back turned must have had X-ray vision burrowing through his brain cavity because he saw it. Not only did he see it, but he pulled his gun and instead of turning to shoot me, started unloading into the random citizens he was standing watch over. I just sat there and laughed, there wasn't much else I could do.
The AI is simply retarded and there's no other word for it. If you get seen and have to fake a surrender, you can quickly hug a wall and saunter away from the target and he won't do anything. If a gunfight breaks out, enemies just sit behind walls for twenty minutes while nothing happens. It's really, really bad. When and if you play, do the AI a favor and don't alert them to your presence. Their simple minds can't do basic addition, let alone consider a gunfight.
Hiding in Plain Sight, I Guess - Another aspect where Hitman: Absolution failed in what would be the stealth mechanics. If I put on a police uniform, I'm invisible to anybody but other cops. Alright, I guess that kind of makes sense, despite some of the costumes that could easily hide 47’s head. But wait, if I'm a cop and I hide in front of a crane machine, the other cops don't even notice that I'm not trying to direct confused civilians? Also, why can't I wear any civilian clothing? If cops recognize nobody but cops, and mercenaries don't recognize anyone who isn't wearing mercenary attire, why can't 47 wear a low-cut v-neck and blue jeans? I suppose this is to add more difficulty to the game, but it’s unnecessary. The old system worked much better.
A quick explanation of the old system for comparison’s sake. In Blood Money, if I killed a doctor and dressed up like him, no one would recognize me. If I walked near another doctor, he’d grow slightly suspicious of my actions, but wouldn’t act on it unless I did something that doctors don’t normally do while he was watching. Compare this to Absolution where even in the easier difficulties, standing by someone who’s dressed like you almost immediately sparks a red flag if you don’t activate a perk that you can only maintain for a brief period of time, or quickly hurry past them. There is a silver lining about this that says “If I have my back turned to you, you don’t notice me”, but I’ve seen that trick work maybe twice.
Score System from Hell - Remember how fun Blood Money's score system was? If you killed everyone on the level you got full marks because there were no witnesses. If you got the target and nothing else, no one even noticed, which lead to an equally good score (this is of course in the lower difficulty levels). That was awesome but what isn't awesome is having to follow a strict checklist put forth by the developers. Freedom has been taken away as you are required to perform missions exactly as the developers has put it out for you, making you feel like you've done something wrong when you're killing a mercenary who not a minute before shot a nun in the face. No, the rating system is bad and the developers should feel bad.
Collision Detection, You're Doing it Wrong - Sometimes 47 gets stuck. He'll get stuck on walls, won't climb up ledges, and won't pick up items. It's a bit of a polishing error on this part, and it can sometimes lead to a game over when a player is out of ammo and can't pick up a throwing knife or jump over a counter.
Some Levels Simply Suck - By making Absolution more story-oriented than previous installments, IO Interactive has taken out a feature that a lot of players love. Giant sandbox missions have been replaced with linear point A to point B levels in favor of a story-driven experience. This is not only unnecessary, it ruins what makes Hitman different from games like Splinter Cell. Blood Money wasn't about stealthily getting from an entrance to an elevator, it was about surveying your surroundings and deciding what to do from there. Instead of doing that, many missions revolve around simply walking past enemies after learning their patterns.Do Not Make a Game More Difficult by Adding More Enemies Rather than making it more strategic in higher difficulty settings, the developers went the easy route and buffed security by adding more bodies. While that can work to an extent, it limits a lot of creativity, even in the open missions. Playing Absolution on a higher difficulty is like reading a message from the developers that says: “We want you to do this mission like this. If you get creative, you die. Now shut up and color.”
Hitman: Absolution is a mediocre game for anyone who has ignored previous installments. It's a decently polished title that obviously had money put into it. At its core, it is a game about sneaking, not being the assassin you want to be. It's a title that has taken the face of Hitman, and used that to make another game, and that's a problem. It's not something I enjoyed because it wasn't a Hitman title. It had some new ideas, and that’s respectable. The problem was that many of the new ideas made the game worse than if they hadn’t been included.