Review: Hitman: Absolution – is Agent 47 still relevant?

hitman-absolution-dual-wielding

In this sugar-coated candy corn PC world we live in games mainly focused on graphic violence need a softer image to broaden appeal to a new generation. Hitman: Absolution begs to differ. Can it find its niche or is it a lumbering dinosaur like Duke Nukem?

Now this will be a really clean kill

As a child of the 90’s, I grew up on films like Leon: The Professional and La Femme Nikita. Loving them both dearly, Hitman: Codename 47 rocked my world by offering me a chance to (virtually) step into the shoes of a near perfect assassin. Needless to say I was hooked from the word go.

The Hitman franchise was born in an era where violence in games was deemed more acceptable. Not because society deemed it so, but rather because the public eye wasn’t as firmly focused on gaming. Times have changed. Before Hitman: Absolution even hit shelves it already found itself under fire for its sexualised presentation. The world is a different place and Hitman’s dark humour and outlandish characters seem to have been pre-judged a little harshly.

The core concept behind the series could be seen as offensive to some people. If you look without an understanding of its appeal, the gameplay appears to be nothing more than cold and calculated murder of anyone who gets in your way as you stalk and plan the demise of your target. This is true in the purest sense. Throughout the series the games may have given you unlimited freedom to cause as much damage as you possible can while still subtly guiding you towards the perfect assassination or cleanest kill.

Screwdrivers – the weapon of choice for true professionals

Hitman: Absolution starts with Agent 47 on a mission to put down his handler (and friend) Diana, who has gone rogue. Being the unflinching death machine he is, he pulls the trigger and setting off a spiraling chain of events. This solitary act pulls him away from The Agency and sends him across the world to protect a school girl (yes, a school girl) from the dark and evil forces after her for their own devious reasons.

Once you’ve mastered the basic controls Hitman: Absolution really gains stride. Agent 47 moves with purpose and the revamped control system really gives you more tools and skills than ever before. Weapons often take a back seat with targets easily dispatched over precipitous edges or by using your surroundings.

Players can still choose to play a mission however they want, yet the game seems to look down on you for any death that’s not completely necessary. The environments are finely detailed and filled with interesting ways to off your targets. Exploring is essential and many missions will have you spending more time on planning than on the actual act of the assassination.

Run insects, run!

Hitman: Absolution has a diverse sense of scope. Levels take you everywhere from seedy night clubs, to packed public areas and even burning buildings. Every level offers diversity and the assassination options are strong enough to keep you coming back for more. Do you let the environment perform the kill? An accident or do you get your hands dirty? The choice is yours.

One flaw apparent early on is that the enemy Artificial Intelligence (AI) is unprepared for Agent 47 to go postal. Fire fights usually end up with adversaries emptying whole clips of ammo into the cover in front of you instead of repositioning or flanking to get off a higher percentage shot.

IO Interactive has done well to create such a dynamic game, but it could have spent a little more time developing a more balanced experience for those not solely interested in sneaking around. Once you open fire and begin a frontal assault the game tends to become a little boring, as homicide on a grand scale leaves you with nothing more than an empty level and a penalising loss of mission points.

Peek-a-boo, I see you!

This is an excellent assassination game. Its execution (pun intended) and presentation are definitely its strongest points with an exceptionally well-placed camera and excruciating attention to detail offering an experience with massive replayability. The story has some solid acting and interesting events but as a whole is largely forgettable and one of the biggest let-downs.

Hitman: Absolution has its flaws, but for every misstep it takes it will give you five reasons to keep coming back for more with the fun and focus of the game centering more on the individual missions. It has poured life back into the series and puts Agent 47 back up where he should be as one of gaming’s premier assassins.

8/10

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Joshua Philpott

Tech MacGyver
Games writer, podcaster and tech wizard. Obsessed with obscure horror films, crazy gadgets and caffeine. Passionate, argumentative and open minded. Freelance writer and co-founder rawDLC.

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