Review by Erik_P
"IO attempts to revive Hitman but fails at what made the originals so great"
It's been 6 long years since we last saw Agent 47 in Hitman: Blood Money for the PS2 and XBox. While IO Interactive does do some things right, they pale in comparison to the mistakes that were made.
The original Hitman games were never much for story, to the point it was non existant. There would be a cutscene, you would be told who you were to kill and then you were dropped in the level. It wasn't much but it didn't matter. In Absolution, there is an honest to God story, however, it's so poorly done that it's actually worse than the old games. As 47, you're brought out of retirement to kill your former handler, Diana Burnwood, who the Agency claims has betrayed them. After you pull the trigger on her, events spiral out of control, you have to save a young girl and the Agency turns on you. The girl has zero character development and and is nothing more than a McGuffin. At no point did I ever care about her and the story does not attempt to even try to make you care.
The main villain is some stupid rich cowboy by the name of Blake Dexter. It's your job to take him out, but you fail and are promptly framed for murder. You spend the rest of the game trying to kill him and dodge the police. His character development is almost as poorly done as the girl. He's supposed to be the Big Bad but at no point does he do anything that would lead me to believe 47 would ever have a hard time killing him. He's actually pretty boring and unremarkable.
The only thing that saves the story from being a total failure are the well done cutscenes. They're very well done and the voice acting is top notch.
In past Hitman games, gameplay revolved around being dropped into a level, scoping out the area and trying to figure out how best to dispatch the target. It was short, sweet and perfect. Sadly, IO totally screwed the whole thing up. There are 20 missions, however, only 5 of them involve actually assassinating a target. And 2 of them bring you back to the exact same location! Every other mission involves getting from Point A to B, which is almost always a door that leads to another door you have to reach. These Point A to B missions are almost exclusively linear, with very little choice in how you reach your goal, a sin in the Hitman world. The assassination missions are classic Hitman, and you have a near endless variety of options in dispatching your target. These missions are great and offer a glimpse of what this game could have been if they had more hits and fewer linear hallways.
A few new features were added, Point Shooting and Instinct. Point Shooting slows down time and allows you to target as many enemies as you want as long as you have Instinct. This feature is largly pointless and is ripped from RDR and Splinter Cell Conviction, among others. Instinct is 47's way of seeing what's in the world, from enemy paths to Points of Interest; it basically replaces the map from previous games. It also allows you to blend in with the enemy if you're disguised as them. Disguises in Hitman have worked one of two ways; they helped you through areas and worked if you didn't get too close to enemies (Silent Assassin 2) or they flat out ignored you if you were dressed as them (Blood Money). They decided to go with Silent Assassin 2, which would have been fine, if it weren't for the goofy detection system. Enemies can spot you with your back turned to them, from across the room, in thick crowds and somehow, strangely, if you're wearing a mask. Sometimes it makes sense; if you infiltrate a gang they're going to realize you're not one of them. But in Chicago, with a police force numbering in the hundreds, how would the police know you're an imposter? In order to make it past nearly every enemy you have to actually sneak from cover to cover or use Instinct and if you run out of Instinct out in the open, you're screwed. It feels more like Splinter Cell than it does Hitman.
The one bright spot are the graphics. They're gorgeous and truly look next generation. While in Chinatown, you'll wade through hundreds of civilians and you can actually lose sight of your target at times. Standing out in the rain, and then entering a building you can actually see 47's bald head soaking wet, as well as his coat which eventually dries off; it makes it feel as though he's actually in the world. Not enough games pay attention to those kinds of details. The sound is great as well. Crowds truly sound like crowds and the music in bars is deafening. There is slowdown at times; it's not bad but there is enough to be noticeable.
The multiplayer comes in the form of Contracts. This is where you can enter any area you've played and put a custom hit on someone. You get to decide, among other variables, how to kill them with what weapons, if any, and if it requires a disguise or not. Your friends and others can then play your Contract for in game money.
This sounds great on paper, but in practice leaves alot to be desired. You can only place a custom hit on a handful of characters, and story consequences are in place. So, if you want to do a Contract in a mission from the story that has you evading the police, being forced to evade the police is still in effect. Because there are so few characters to place a hit on, the number of original hits is limited. As of this review, according to Square Enix public announcements in the game there were over 50,000 unique contracts. Unfortunately, far too many of them are repeats of everyone else's and too few actual original contracts.
I strongly recommend this be a rental before you consider buying as there are far too many issues with the game to justify a $60 purchase. With the stealth genre slowly dying Hitman Absolution could have been the game to bring it back to life. As it stands, Absolution is a mediocre stealth game and a poorly done Hitman game.
Reviewer's Rating: 3.0 - Fair
Originally Posted: 12/06/12
Game Release: Hitman: Absolution (US, 11/20/12)
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