| Hitman Absolution (Playstation 3) |
The latest title in the long running Hitman series of games offers many new changes and improvements over previous entries, but can it live up to its predecessors? Many seem to think so while others prefer the older games. In all honesty this is the first Hitman game I've played so I figure I can't be too biased one way or the other.
Let's begin with the story. Agent 47 (the titular hitman himself) is on an assignment to kill his old handler Diana Burnwood for her crimes against the Agency (the vast and powerful network of people who employ 47). He would have preferred a different job, but orders are orders and 47 is nothing if not professional. So he infiltrates his old colleague's mansion with the intent to murder her in cold blood.
The first mission serves largely as a tutorial to explain the gameplay mechanics and controls to the player while they make their way to Diana. Once 47 reaches her he shoots her while she is taking a shower, though the wound isn't instantly fatal. As she lays on the floor bleeding out Diana tells 47 of a girl she has been looking after that the Agency wants and explains that her betrayal was to protect her.
47 is moved by this and leaves the mansion with the girl under his protection, going rouge from the Agency in the process. After dropping the girl off where she'll be safe 47 begins his quest to find out why everyone is so interested in her and what he can do to stop them.
The gameplay is much like that of the games that came before it, with 47 being given an objective (usually a target) to achieve while drawing as little attention as possible and leaving no evidence of his presence. Players are encouraged to use stealth for the best possible score and to avoid combat when possible, though stealth isn't required to beat a level.
So long as the hit is carried out or the objective is reached 47 will be allowed to progress even if he went in guns blazing and attacked innocent bystanders. It should also be noted that starting a fight on any professional difficulty is likely to end in death unless the player has mastered the gun fighting mechanics. Even on the lowest difficulty it is best to avoid large confrontations so as not to waste ammo or lose health as both are not easy to restore while potential enemies are plentiful.
Most weapons in the game have to be taken from the environment itself with several improvised weapons (such as bottles, screwdrivers and radios) being the most common to find. Levels often have special guns that the player can find in addition to the normal ones so exploration of each level is strongly encouraged. Probably the best feature of the game is the wide array of ways to complete objectives.
Any target can be easily killed with a gun or explosive, but the best execution methods are usually the most mundane. Enemies who are killed in ways that look like accidents (such as making a heavy object fall on them or causing them to electrocute themselves) leave less evidence and provide the best score. The environment itself can often be used as a weapon as well as a hiding place so scouting around before making your move is usually a good idea and greatly extends the replay value of the game.
My biggest complaint about this mostly flawless game is the heavy use of stereotypes, especially when it comes to the villains. Most of the male antagonists are dirty old men while most of the female antagonists are sluts in skimpy clothing. Aside from a few characters all of 47's enemies fit into one of those two categories. Its a shame because, for the most part, both genders are given equal treatment and 47 shows no favoritism with his targets.
I certainly wouldn't call this game anti-male, but the developers should have spent a little more time giving their characters depth. Aside from 47 and a few other main characters players will likely not care about what happens to the cast, especially since many of the characters die without contributing anything but plot advancement.
I really did enjoy this game and I think it has a lot of replay value, but some flat characters and stereotypes kept it from being perfect in my mind. Still, if the next entry in the series is as polished and well-designed as this one was I'd definitely consider buying it. If you enjoy stealth-based games Hitman Absolution should definitely be added to your collection. Even if it doesn't seem like your cup of tea I recommend at least renting or borrowing it for a few days to try it out.
I wasn't sure if I'd like the game when I first tried it, but now I think it was one of the better games I've played this year. If you haven't tried out any of the Hitman games and want to see what the series has to offer then Absolution is a great place to start.
- Reviewed by Midnightundead
Rating: M (Blood and gore, intense violence, partial nudity, sexual themes, strong language, use of drugs)