I was so excited to play Hitman: Codename 47 on PC back in 2000 that I picked up a copy while on a school trip to France (They don’t check age ratings there apparently). After six years since the bar-coded assassin’s latest outing in Blood Money, I was just as excited for Absolution
With a title such as ‘Absolution,’ it sets up a focus on storyline along with an impending sense of an ultimate conclusion. This is perhaps half true. While there is more concentration on plot in this latest outing, it isn’t beyond predictability after it begins with 47 acting out a contract on long-time handler Diana then protecting a mysterious girl who was in her care, with the result being somewhat teasing.
Missions are no longer offered in the form of contract kills from clients. No ranging reasons for why someone wants their life ended. Levels are now separated into, often, three parts. Not always with an assassination target, sometimes just an A to B objective with a number of guards or security systems to negotiate.
There is a new scoring system in place that calculates the familiar statuses, but while it makes it easier to see how close you are to the elusive Silent Assassin ranking, it can at times get in the way, like you are stuck in an inescapable arcade mode. Getting spotted and killing or knocking out non-target enemies results in negative points, which is not a pleasant sight for any gamer.
The balance between difficulty and challenge is questionable. ‘Instinct’ can be acquired by completing objectives and can be used to locate targets and ‘blend’ when using disguises. Anything higher than easy difficulty however and instinct depletes rapidly, along with its effectiveness. It’s understandable that another guard or technician would able to uncover an impostor among their own but so quickly. It can also become a hindering habit upon getting caught of hitting restart mission/from checkpoint, which spoils the full appreciation of the game. Although thankfully having a rampage every now and then is just as (if not more) fun than it has ever been in Hitman.
With 12 years since the introduction of Agent 47, IO interactive have gotten very comfortable in his skin and the world he inhabits. He looks as suave and dangerous as he should be. His environment is appropriately detailed and more alive than ever before. Opening doors to a crowded Chinatown, bar, or underground fight club borders on spectacular and begs you to show appreciation of what’s around you while you plan your next moves. Believable conversations occur and could potentially affect how you play. Will you really end the life of a man who has just told his friend he’s just become a father? His clothes would come in handy as a disguise.
Going online, Absolution offers Contracts mode. Although cheekily only activated through an online pass, this mode is the decider in the title’s life span over collecting challenges in single player missions. Contracts gives you the opportunity to play out one of the campaign’s levels and create your own custom contract to then make available for the world to play. You choose the target, what weapon must be used and what disguise should be worn for a bonus. If you can do it yourself, you can challenge others to have a go to and see who is the deadliest assassin. It’s a mode that brings in a near customary social aspect found within modern games, but it will be addictive for those hooked on leaderboards.
Hitman: Absolution comes together as a neat package for long followers of the series. I chuckled when quickly hiding a guard, he commented ‘He kind of looks like Timothy Olyphant,’ and I had chills when ‘Ave Maria’ finally played over 47 strolling along with his trademark Silverballers. Newcomers to the series may wish to wait until January for the Hitman HD Collection as an introduction, but rest assured that from Absolution and beyond this franchise is still fulfilling its potential, albeit still having some room for improvement.