In a month where both Call of Duty & Halo return to record-breaking sales, Square Enix & developer IO Interactive bravely released the first Hitman in six years. And despite some heavy-hitting competition Hitman Absolution has proved to be a slick piece of contracted fun. So we’ve got ten reasons why should already be playing Agent 47’s latest kill-frenzy…
Stealth is the new black
There’s nothing wrong with a little mindless mayhem (and Hitman Absolution has plenty of it if you’re that way inclined) but nothing smacks of true predatory values like a silent kill. Whether it’s stalking your target in a crowd or watching from the shadows Absolution gives you the weapons, disguises & distractions to get the job done clean. Trust us, nothing says psychotic finesse like a little fibre-wire.
A smorgasbord of choice
Each mission of Absolution is split up into separate areas, with each one designed to cater to even the craziest of gaming tastes. Sure, you can move like a silent shadow & take your target with grace or you can rig their car with explosives & blow their atoms sky-high. By splitting each mission to bite-size portions might seem to fly in the face of some classic stealth games but even the smallest of areas can be a brutal killing ground for the inexperienced nube. Poison or gas explosion, the sick choice is yours!
The scores on the killing floor
Adding a little arcade flavour to the mix is the new in-game score system. Jettisoning the knock-on effect Notoriety system from 2006’s Blood Money was a good move on the part of IO Interactive as it finally lets players focus on each section of the mission to bag the best score. If you choose to go blundering in wielding you signature silenced Silverballers then your gung-ho technique will dock you points, whilst avoiding detection & killing your target in a creative or silent manner will build towards a final score that rises & falls with every action.
Some fans have decreed the new Instinct system as a franchise killer but it adds a new level of situation management to the game. In the six years since Hitman Blood Money both Assassin’s Creed & Rocksteady’s Batman Arkham series have redefined what true hunters can do, so it’s no surprise IO Interactive took some slightly blatant cues from its new comrades. Instinct Mode is essentially Batman’s Detective Mode, letting you track NPCs through scenery & see their intended route with flaming trails. Silent kills & hiding bodies will replenish your Instinct which can then be used to fool enemies or take out multiple enemies a la Splinter Cell Conviction’s Mark & Execute system. Copied yes, but done with class.
A personal contract
The Hitman games have never been acclaimed for their narratives but Absolution manages to give enough exposition to justify each setting whilst not over-egging the story. The cut-scenes are beautifully animated & the voice-acting is decent enough to make a mockery of the dire Hitman movie a few years ago. And having veteran VO artist David Bateson reprise his role as 47 gives the oddly emotive story & gravitas other actors might have overdone.
Multiplayer (but not, but kind of)
Thankfully Hitman Absolution hasn’t taken a leaf out of Ubisoft’s book & shoehorned in an unbalanced set of multiplayer death matches. Instead Absolution presents Contracts. Taking its cues from the ‘Autolog’ style systems that are making the rounds across video games at the moment, Contracts lets you compete for the highest score on missions based on the different sections of the single-player campaign. You can even create your own missions to challenge your friends & foes with. Rather than asking you to build a map ‘Forge’ style, Contracts drops you into a location & lets you build the difficulty. You pick the targets, set the parameters & twist the rules. By completing the mission you prove it can be done with players from across the world taking on your record to earn cash for new weapons & disguises. Simple but so addictive it could claim you life.
“Hitman Absolution feels more like a Tarantino movie than a video game, dripping with style, class & bravado”
Higher difficulty done right
Some developers still struggle to get the distinction between difficulty levels, but Absolution proves that it’s not just about tougher enemies & less armour. As you progress from Easy to the brutal Purist setting, Absolution increases the reaction times of enemies, removes hints & removes Instinct regeneration. Normal & Hard become nothing more than training levels as you prepare for the onslaught of Professional & Purist. Legendary is for chumps.
Contract killing has never looked so good
The Xbox 360 & PlayStation 3 may be well into their twilight years but games like Absolution are determined to squeeze each consoles processor for all its worth. Absolution is easily one of the best looking games on either console to date. Amber sunsets bathe penthouses in a warm glow whilst neon signs sizzle in night-time rain fall, Absolution has that slick art style that makes it feel more like a Tarantino movie than a video game. The variation between traditional architecture of an orphanage with the neon playground of a strip club gives you just some idea of how stylistically confident this game is.
Hitman Absolution is all about giving players the tools to embrace the dark arts & become a sublime dealer of death”
Whilst achievements & trophies aren’t the be all and end of all of gaming, it doesn’t hurt to play a game that doesn’t short change you for ten hours of campaign dedication – Perfect Dark Zero this is not. Achievements are mostly based on certain milestones reached over the singe-player campaign whilst some tougher trophies will push you to complete replay the game with different playstyles to bag the full score. Complete the campaign & have a little ditty in Contracts & you’ll bag a well-earned 650g/70% of the Gamerscore on offer.
Who needs a white hood?
The exploits of Altair, Ezio & Connor may have become as synonymous with stealth gameplay as Solid Snake but Agent 47 has managed to strip back its experience to the truest principles of the genre. Whilst Assassin’s Creed 3 focused more on melee combat & aggressive actions, Hitman Absolution is all about giving players the tools to embrace the dark arts & become a sublime dealer of death. Fibre wire is the new hidden blade.
Picked up the new Hitman yet? If you’re not convinced keep an eye out for our upcoming review from Content Editor Dom Reseigh-Lincoln. Keep it infinite!