Game In Review - Hitman: Absolution
by, 4th May 2013 at 10:53 AM (440 Views)
Well, it’s time for another game review and while I am positive these won’t become a regular thing, I would like to share my opinion of this game with you. So low and behold, today I shall review Hitman: Absolution.
Hitman, believe it or not, is actually the fifth game in the Hitman series since Hitman: Codename 47 was released in 2000. I ask you to suspend your disbelief because to me Hitman: Absolution seems like a brand new game. The game begins with you, Agent 47, the deadliest and most badass assassin that ever walked the Earth, receiving yet another contract to add to his repertoire, but this one is different. This contract is to kill his former handler (every assassin needs someone in his ear to give advice and discuss plans with), Diana Burnwood who is, in a way, one of the only friend he’s ever had. 47 travels towards Diana’s secure mansion in the middle of nowhere to kill her and that is where the s*** tentatively approaches the fan.
Unfortunately, like most games in a series, Hitman: Absolution suffers from what I have just now begun to call the “Forced Nostalgia Syndrome” and will continue to call it that for the foreseeable future. The whole premise of the story is based on the idea that you know who Diana Burnwood is and her connection with 47 and why it is such a big deal that you have to kill her. How would new players know the crucial facts about the creation of 47 as a clone and how this made 47 essentially a father figure to the genetically modified Victoria? How would they know that it is a running theme that Diana has never shown her face in the Hitman series and that was why fans of the series squealed in delight when they saw her face rather than the rest of her naked body on the bathroom floor? How would they know that Diana helped 47 fake his own death in Hitman: Blood Money and that was the reason Travis thought Diana could have faked her own death. However, beyond all this is the simple fact that this doesn't take away from the overall game. The introduction cutscene explains that Diana was someone 47 could once trust and that he regrets having to kill her so that all important context is fulfilled enough to enjoy the rest of the game. There are still a few nods and winks in the game due to the developer’s wackiness that they put into each Hitman game, such as the ice cream truck and Charlie the Chipmunk, but these things are amusing without knowing where they came from. There are even references to Kane and Lynch , Metal Gear and Mini Ninjas if you know where to look for those missing out.
Anyway, I should get to the story. The story in Hitman: Absolution is great. It actually has a cohesive plot, which is more than can be said for any other Hitman game which consisted of a block of vaguely connected contracts played consecutively and even if it didn’t, it felt like it did. Absolution flows. It is a basic storyline – villain takes something/someone and you must get it back – but with a character like Agent 47, to whom emotion does not come naturally, it does just fine. It has a nice “You VS The World” feel to it, pitting you against a colourful array of enemies from the paranoid, one armed Agency ICA Division leader Benjamin Travis to the foul-mouthed, cowboy arms dealer Blake Dexter to the offensive force of the Chicago Police Department, the odds are against you every step of the way. I cannot find anything wrong with the story; it evens sets a cliff-hanger to continue on to future games and allows no evidence to be left behind.
The gameplay is equally well designed. I will get into more detail on the controversies of the gameplay in a little bit but for now I will continue to praise it. Hitman: Absolution continues the vital traditions of its gameplay including disguises, hiding bodies and of course, 47’s dual silenced Silverballers for when things get slightly harder to control that made him the original assassin, yet adds several other brand new abilities, like my personal favourites, being able to take cover, being able to fight with your hands and being able to climb ledges, to show that they've been doing something in the past six years and not just copy-and-pasting from Hitman: Blood Money . Each level has been polished to perfection to allow for full varied use of 47’s abilities. Each NPC has a story to tell, a unique conversation scripted for them for players who are willing to listen, and some of them are funny, such as the man standing next to an open window cheering after having negative results for prostate cancer, ready for you to pull him out and ruin his good mood, or the man who just escaped a minor fire scare at a convenience store and immediately calls his girlfriend to break up, claiming that “he’s got a new appreciation for life”. It’s the small, insignificant details that the developers put in to a game like this that really make it worthwhile to play over and over again, making sure not to miss out on anything. Obviously, it wouldn't be a Hitman game if it weren't infuriatingly difficult at times. Part of the Hitman legacy was the use of trial and error to get through every obstacle; so much so that you would know the routes of every character by the time you were done. You will spend at least half an hour on sections in this game and I ragequitted three times but that is what Hitman is meant to be – challenging. It’s no fun if you can just go in guns blazing and mow down the opposition. Nah, the development team is far too sneaky for that.
In terms of graphics, this game is gorgeous. The Glacier 2 game engine produces some of the best graphics I’ve ever seen in a PS3 game and I’ve played Crysis which is said to be the best looking Playstation game of all time. The rain looks like rain as it bounces of 47’s bald head. The light makes shadows and it doesn't look like they’re separate textures stuck next to each other. The sunlight of Hope, South Dakota is actually harsh as you step outside. The in game footage looks just as good as the cinematic cutscenes. I’m glad this is a stealth game rather than an action game so I can just stand somewhere and look around, which was a problem with Crysis and Battlefield; in a game where you shoot people and do action things, people are not going to be focused on the nice job you did with the sunlight, they’re going to be worrying about the sniper on top of the skyscraper obscured by the sunlight. Hitman allows you the opportunity to admire the world around you that lives and breathes whether you want it to or not and doesn't just pop in because you’re there.
The levels in this game are so much more complex and thorough than I’d have thought before playing. There are secrets galore in every section of Hitman: Absolution and if you want to 100% this game, you’re going to have to play through the story at least three times. The environment around 47’s objective is tailor made to give you a whole other arsenal at your disposal and the level shown as the demo for the game, The King of Chinatown is a classic example of this. Let me list of the ways you can kill the King. You can:
Shoot him (with a total of five different guns)
Stab him or bludgeon him with any number of improvised weapons found throughout the map
Poison his food, coffee or cocaine
Blow him up (along with his obnoxiously expensive looking car)
Push him down a hole
Drop a pallet of bricks on top of him
Just break his neck
There are twelve ways in total to kill the King of Chinatown. Similarly, for everyone the game selects as a target, there are at least three ways of killing them. This is the sort of s*** every game should be doing. It adds personality to every kill you carry out as 47 and makes you feel more accomplished that you finally managed to drop the faulty disco ball on the sleazy strip club owner after your twentieth attempt. I almost thought it too good to be true, expecting some glitches or bugs to be found in the game but alas, there was only a single cutscene in which 47’s gun appeared invisible, and nothing game breaking. The trouble with glitches in this game though is that you can’t take them seriously. When one of the achievements is to kill three targets dressed in a ridiculous Charlie the Chipmunk outfit, you know the developers aren't taking it seriously and so neither should you. For such a good looking game, an invisible gun and a problem with the game’s code, resulting in a nonexistent notebook (which Squarenix admitted to), is hardly a problem, is it?
Now I know what you’re saying, you’re saying “But a game this good must have its flaws, right?” Well, no, not in my opinion. There are plenty according to the diehard Hitman fans. According to them, Hitman: Absolution is not worthy of being a Hitman game because it’s too easy, because it’s catered too much to new players and because it does not stay true to the Hitman legacy. Well, with the greatest respect, I think you’re wrong. I would not know the Hitman series existed if not for Absolution and I’m sure this is the case for hundreds of other people as well. The presence of Instinct in the game was revealed early on to appease the long term fans and when they cried out for war against it, the developers quickly added a “Purist” difficulty, removing anything that simplified the game. The map, the Instinct and everything else on the HUD was gone, only a crosshair remained and I thought this was a genius idea. Fans would get their old school Hitman and newbies would get their transition difficulties in hope that one day they would be as good as the professionals. Obviously, some fans still bitched and moaned but the developers felt they’d done all they could and just shut the blinds and put on earmuffs to drown out the sound of bricks flying through their windows and I respect them for that.
This is the part where I would normally talk about the multiplayer option for a game like CoD or something equally as disgusting but I’m not entirely sure if the Hitman: Absolution “Contracts” mode counts as multiplayer. Contracts mode is basically a global database of user made contracts, utilising the pre-made maps from the single player campaign. One person goes around the map, selecting up to three completely random targets and killing them in whatever way they so choose. The contract is then uploaded online and anyone can pick it up, see who the creator killed, using what and wearing what and if they decide it’s worth their time, they can also attempt to complete the contract, achieving a higher score than the creator. Money earned by doing this can then be spent on unlocking guns and attachments for these guns. There isn't really much to spend the money on but attachments are expensive and it’s more about the pleasure of beating someone that thought they made the best contract ever made. The Contracts mode is by the far the best, most inventive and most addictive idea I have ever seen in any game on any platform, period. It proves to other game developers that no matter the game, there is capability for multiplayer and reveals a whole other undertone to Hitman: Absolution, finding out that there are entirely new ways to kill enemies that were completely menial before and it made me appreciate how hard the level designers worked on this game, to have made everyone on the map a killable character.
So, before my Microsoft Word document breaches four pages of text, I should probably conclude. Hitman: Absolution is pioneering, bringing out the best in the stealth genre and having the possibility to go all out with a shotgun if you get p***ed off, it has the best of both worlds. I don't normally play third person games but the story kept me entertained for a long time - just over ten hours for my first playthrough and just under eight for my second (working on my third). The level of minute detail put into the game shows how much effort it took to make and it is one of the most well put together games of recent memory, continuing on and improving the Hitman series. The Contracts mode is top notch and gives Hitmen around the world the chance to best each other like never before. I give this game 10/10 because it damn well deserves it.
Rating – 10/10
Final Thought – Levels that don’t feature a mandatory target aren't “lame”, they show 47 is vulnerable and not just on a wild killing spree.
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