Agent 47 makes a return as the professional assassin with this trademark suit and tie in Hitman: Absolution. The story begins with 47 being assigned the task of killing his former boss at the Agency, Diana Burnwood, who has betrayed the Agency (ICA). By the time you reach her she asks you to do one last favor for her: find and protect a little girl named Victoria. In turn, you betray the Agency.
The main antagonist is Blake Dexter, a man with a cowboy hat and a southern drawl with no remorse for anyone who gets in his way. Absolution will make you feel more like the hunted rather than the hunter, a deviation from previous iterations of the Hitman series. You will have to come up with clean kills to maximize your score for every assassination mission. The locales are in the U.S. starting with the state of Illinois. Like in previous Hitman games the assassination targets are the lowest piece of trash you will ever see. However, I feel that making Hitman seem more like the hunted than the hunter is not moving the series in the best direction possible. A professional hitman should be hunting targets down without targets and their guards anticipating that he’s on his way.
The cover system in Absolution is a lot like the cover system in many recent action games. You can shoot while using cover, although this game does not encourage running and shooting. The game encourages you to use stealth and you can throw bricks and other projectiles to distract guards so that you can move without being detected. There are two nice additions to Absolution: the instinct system and the point shooting system. The instinct system is used to detect the moves of the nearby guards so that you can determine when to move without being detected. You can also use instinct so that nearby guards are not able to see through your disguise. Point shooting is effective when dealing with more than one enemy at the same time. Point shooting requires you to halt the action, tag each enemy (preferably the head), then execute the shooting. Thus, you can kill 4 enemies with 4 shots in an instant.
There are many disguises available in each mission. You can dress as a scientist, a mechanic, a member of a wrestler’s entourage, an interior guard, and a scarecrow among many other disguises. The game increases replay value by offering completion of challenges to increase your score. One of the most common challenges is to wear every possible disguise in a given mission. However, it will not be possible to wear every disguise because finding every disguise in a mission will require different strategy, none of which can be utilized in one playthrough. The various methods of assassinating a target also enhance replay value.
The locales in Absolution are very realistic and vivid. The buildings are greatly detailed as are the cornfields in one mission. In one mission there are marijuana plants that you can use for cover, but these plants look very real. Some of the plain vanilla environments such as the Chicago train station and a mine shaft are also striking in detail. The voice acting is outstanding, as it is done by Hollywood actors. There is a group of villains known as The Saints, a group of bad women dressed as sexy nuns looking to end 47’s life. All the locales allow 47 to observe his surroundings in order to hide and hide bodies of people he has neutralized or killed. You can neutralize a guard from behind, leading to a penalty for neutralizing a non-target. However, hiding the body in a nearby dumpster or closet will offset the penalty. In one of the missions you can use a sniper rifle to kill a muscle bound man who is fighting in the ring while the crowd believes he was knocked out by his opponent. This is one of the most satisfying kills in the game.
The A.I. of the enemies can be very good, but can also be inconsistent. Enemies react realistically to strange noises and will search for you. On other occasions you can shoot someone with a sniper rifle while the nearby guard doesn’t react. Sometimes you try to move through a door way while an unsuspecting guard doesn’t move out of the way. He merely stands there.
I was disappointed not to see a currency system like I had seen in previous Hitman games. The currency system was fun and allowed you to spend cash to upgrade weapons. There is a currency system in the Contracts mode of the game, if you choose to play that mode. The Contracts mode is one in which players create their own assassination contracts in exchange for cash. Therefore, the Contracts mode allows for plenty of creativity in terms of planning and executing assassinations.
The checkpoint save system can be an annoyance. You reach various checkpoints that are fairly placed, but there are checkpoints containing the Hitman logo that are mind boggling. You activate a checkpoint containing the Hitman logo, but it does not function if you leave the game. The bigger problem is that if you neutralize nearby enemies near the Hitman logo checkpoint and you return to it the previously neutralized enemies are back patrolling the area. These enemies are back patrolling the area even after you have taken their uniforms to wear as a disguise. To me, this is a bad design flaw that has no credibility.
Hitman: Absolution is a great for its beautifully detailed settings in each mission and the availability of many methods of executing kills. But the feeling of being hunted rather than the hunter makes the kills less satisfying than in previous Hitman games, the inconsistent A.I., and the checkpoint save system annoyances hurt Absolution. Overall, Absolution is a decent game, not a great one.