Square Enix and Io Interactive bring a long awaited continuation of Agent 47 with Hitman: Absolution. Hiding bodies and asphyxiation remains the core to keeping one of the last true stealth game in the genre. While many other stealth games have given way to more action, Hitman creates an addictive and encouraging thriller that keeps players coming back for more.
Diana Burnwood puts the agency on the brink and vanishes. Agent 47 needs to find her and do what he does best. Diana appears to have gone rogue and taken an agency asset, a young girl, which must be returned. Agent 47 makes a judgment call against the agency to protect a girl facing a future like his own, leading him into a twisted world of cat and mouse.
As the story unfolds every character becomes a question mark. Who are 47s real friends? What makes this girl so special? Where will 47 go if he survives this chaos? The 20+ hour long story creates a surprisingly steady learning curve never allowing frustration to set in until later in the game. Each mission leaves multiple options to eliminate 47s targets. With creativity and helpful hints from less difficult modes the game creates an atmosphere of comfortable exploration. This exploration shows the boundary of options for 47’s abilities for the player to master in preparation for the later and more difficult levels in the game.
Hitman provides a stealth game at its core. Specific strategies are required for victory, but several ways can get the job done. As the game gets later the options to achieve victory get slimmer. Frustration can set in if players abused the easier levels options, leaving them with a steeper learning curve consisting of more trial and error.
The feel of the hunt is something Hitman has created better than any other recent game. To kill the target is a simple one. Laying out a plan for a silent kill and hiding the body to escape without anyone revealing 47’s existence requires skill, timing and execution (both meanings being one in the same). Most games draw a larger audience with over-the-top action, while Hitman: Absolution prides itself with hunt and kill tactics, avoiding the any messy over-the-top action.
The strategy and hunt syncs with the artistic atmosphere the game creates from the first mission. The artistic imagery matches the Agent 47’s art of the assassination. With each move made to complete 47’s work of art, the music comes to the forefront giving players not only encouragement, but pride in their accomplishments. The game mixes gritty violence with an artful setting display. The display is not just the setting and background, but the people too. Civilians are the silver lining that completes the atmosphere of places like Chicago’s Chinatown, the local strip club or a western-style gun range.
Replay Value equates to the pursuit of perfection. Each mission is broken down into smaller segments. These segments have two categories: mission skill and collectibles. Mission skill is determined through assassin efficiency. There are several ways to kill each marked target and replay is required to complete each challenge. Discovering the best way, reveals bonus points under signature kill. Each segment within the mission also has the occasional side challenge, such as saving a civilian or getting all accidental kills. For each challenge completed attributes are added and described at the end of each mission making each life easier when taking lives.
Collectibles are items picked up from each mission and there are a ton of them. For the 100 percenter’s, this game provides a challenge to find it all. Once all of them are found, Agent 47 gains more experience to level up.
As for multiplayer, there is a challenge mode that pits gamers against each other to see who the better assassin is. Each campaign level also shows scores of the leading friend and the US and Country averages. Hitman: Absolution extends multiplayer best through specific contracts within the campaign. It provides another challenge to create more gameplay and replay value.