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“Hitman: Absolution” has been a much publicized game and its launch signals the return of the Silent Assassin as he tries to make his way across the Hitman storyline on a seventh generation console. Filled with great features akin to other assassin style games, the hunter style gameplay will entice those who want a modern take on the perfect assassination. Make choices across the board in a myriad of ways as you step into the shoes of Agent 47 once again.
Focusing on the storyline, the player is immediately drawn into the next chapter in the life of the silent assassin. This time around, it is his most trusted confidant, Diana, whom he must hunt. She’s betrayed the agency and it’s your job to find out her motives. Once you do however, that predictably leads to more questions than answers. The game is more story driven in many ways, owing to the less than stellar storylines from previous games. Hitman: Absolution doesn’t play out like a stuttering mission by mission video game anymore, but instead seamlessly transitions between each mission like a Hollywood movie.
Gameplay style has also been upgraded for current generation consoles and their raised expectations. The Hitman franchise has been a long running game series from Io Interactive and having the game play mechanics remain the same as they were from the last generation of consoles just wasn’t an option. Given new life this time around, the classic Hitman tools of Garrote and Silenced “Silverballer” Pistol are instantly available to the player on the first easy play through. What this leaves room for though, is a whole host of upgrades and tools in Agent 47′s bag of tricks.
Not only can the player select from 5 levels of difficulty, it is possible to change the difficulty mid level inside the game. Across those 5 levels you can change the level of instinct regeneration available to the player as well as how many checkpoints players have available to them. Enemy reaction timing, as well as instinct’s abilities change accordingly. Agent 47′s Instinct skill in Hitman: Absolution, when activated, gives him hints on enemy locations (even through walls), the ability to predict movement and find usable items in the environment and fool enemies while in disguise. Agent 47′s Instinct skill thumbs its nose at Ezio Auditore’s Eagle Vision from Assassins Creed and says “So what, you’re not the only one.”
The instinct skill, though, can be turned off. For players who’ve walked in Agent 47′s shoes on a PS2 or original Xbox, Hard or Expert will feel right at home. On Easy, Instinct regenerates, hints are given, there are a fair number of check points and enemies are slower. It makes for a happy, almost leisurely target hunt. Conversely the Purist level, as the name suggests: gives no Instinct, enemies will almost always be alert to you and there are no checkpoints. All you have is a map and a gun. Maybe.
The pace of the game though, with its slow calculated movement, means that changing weapons to suit the mission might become necessary and indeed could save lives. Well, lives or a great deal of frustration. The weapons and selection menu is accessed via the D pad on consoles and so changing from a handgun to two handguns to a shotgun that you found on a body is ridiculously fast. A simple button press or two from makes changing weapons a versatile joy and a great asset, not a detriment. There’s no messy scrolling around on a gigantic wheel of weapons here.
The game is immediately gratifying and that’s taking into account the slower stalking style elements that Agent 47 employs as he scales buildings and ducks under the cover of darkness. The game is linear as far as getting from point A to point B, but how you execute the target once you get to the scene is completely up to the player. Whether you go in guns blazing or use a subtle poison still earns you points to unlock character skills.
Points earned during a mission do affect your overall score though; each bullet that Agent 47 fires and hits an unintended target removes points gained from completing mission objectives. Thus, in this case, getting rated as a Mass Murderer is not encouraged, but is still immensely gratifying upon the second run though of the game. In many ways, expending bullets makes it too easy, almost like a mistake or a letdown. The mark of a true professional in this game relies on a mysterious death and denigrates the flashy executions.
Part 2 our reviews continue with more gameplay mechanics as well as a few things that made the game a little frustrating at times.