I've been a fan of the Hitman games since the 2nd, silent assassin. Since when I was aged 12 and couldn't really get a silent assassin rating, nor understand what the game was really about. Yet I loved it, and ended up getting the others as they followed. The last game we played would have been Bloodmoney, that was an enjoyable game and thus I looked quite forward to this one.
Onto the game.
I was worried like many fans the game had gone all linear and perhaps had been dumbed down, but I'm happy to say this isn't the case.
Where to start, I guess the menu. There are a nice number of options with which the player can configure Absolution. From turning off all of the tips and helpers when using Instincts to changing what thumb stick is to enter sneak. There's also several other things you can check such as your statistics, challenges, and safe house which isn't an actual safe house but the place where you can check all your weapons, upgrades, disguises, techniques etc.
I'm sure for the PC these options could only have tripled for performance settings.
- The controls. They aren't exactly the same as I remember but 6 years since the last and a new engine plus features means this is normal. They are responsive and were easy to suss (without reading the manual or having any tips at all turned on) You now hold LB to run and use the LS to walk around. I believe this hasn't been changed as walking is what players will be doing most to blend in.
- Taking cover is now an option by pressing B when 47's near something that he can hide against. The new cover system works nicely and doesn't lock you to the wall if you wish to move away, you can press A to roll or quickly move to a nearby cover if it's available which is a great way to avoid enemy detection. Also pressing RT will make 47 blindfire which is a nice new feature (I hit a guard in the shoulder and watched as it knocked him back whilst he held it in pain)
- Sneaking is now the normal click left thumb stick, I like how you can run whilst sneaking, it can help a lot at times when moving slowly isn't working. Although the amount of crouching and skulking around 47 does makes me feel bad for the arthiritis or siatica, maybe slipped discs he's likely to end up with.
- Shooting, the big part of any Hitman game has been refined, instead of just shooting randomly from a relaxed position you can now hold the LT to aim which makes things a fair bit easier. This is the same whilst being in cover, which all in all makes firefights a much more viable option should the player wish. This isn't dumbing down the game and removing the stealth option (the player can do as they wish) this is opening the game up, and making it more realistic. One would be alarmed if 47 couldn't hold his own in a firefight, and with the previous games controls this was almost the case (zigzagging and firing both ballers indiscriminately)
But now you can lay down some skillful headshots and continue with the mission before any stray bullets or lack of control ruin the mission. The hair trigger via pressing RT gently is also a nice touch which slows things down slightly.
- Instincts, personally I'm not really using this as I'm playing it on purist mode with all tips switched off. But from what I can tell, a lot of people are happily making use of it, and it seems to aid them in a non intrusive way. Remember the overview map from past games, I liked this but it did tear you from the game whilst leaving you vulnerable, plus showed everyone in the level which instincts doesn't do. It shows what targets are in the vicinity along with points of interest and pre-determined paths. Remember if you want a more challenging or more realistic approach, you can turn this off by playing Purist mode or via the options.
- CQC, close quarters combat has indeed been improved, in the last game, 47 would (quite comically to me) headbutt people with his bald head and leave them moaning in pain, or punch them over. Now they further this, you can again disarm people simply by pressing X, or you may enter a freeze frame series of quick time events, where you must push upto 3 buttons as they appear. It's quick and fluid, plus at times looks bad ass, though I did do it wrong and got knocked out or killed by the guard. Another point to mention is you can now fake surrender by holding A, as the guard draws close you'll also disarm them, this is a nice new feature which stops the mission from breaking down for being spotted by 1 person. You can then use them as a human shield, or press A to knock them out with a rather soft looking tap of the guns butt.
Sadly you can no longer push the target forward, nor kneel on them on the ground to reload (which I thought was creative) once you run out of bullets you may as well rid the shield. Those options plus the option to kill or knockout the human shield would have been good.
- Level design, this has been of much debate towards the release, and the cause of much worry for fans. Are the levels still open squared sandboxed with which you can roam. Or are they linear Splinter cell A-B types.
The answer is, they are a mixture of both (however much better than splinter cell where A-B levels are concerned)
The levels can be rectangular meaning you have an open area but must proceed in a direction to reach a target. This isn't necessarily bad, it just means you will need to put your skills to the test to get there. Some of them are more like squares placed near or on top of each other. The levels are broken down into smaller segments, and upon getting through them you cannot go back. Personally I'm not too fond of this, but then again the segments have a lot going on and overall makes the level as a whole feel quite huge. One or two levels end in on the rails hits, this is rare so I'm indifferent towards it, most of the game never takes control away from you. There does at times seem to be very helpfully placed containers whereas in past games there weren't as many, but this is debatable. You can now hide in containers with upto 1 body inside.
- Disguises, here's one of the games problems. The disguises are still plentiful and fun to use, but this time people wearing fellow disguises (such as cops or security guards) will grow more and more suspicious as they see you or move near you from afar. Any other people will be none the wiser. This does make the game more realistic, if you work with a security detail, and suddenly see a new person you've never been told about or heard of, naturally you would want to investigate. To get around this, more stealth must be used or the instincts must be used to do something natural/hide your face partly. Now on the one hand, it's realistic, but on the other it kind of defeats the point of disguises, especially if your disguise is the same as near all of the levels NPC's, you may still end up trying to sneak and thus lose most freedom. It can also be a harsh system regardless of difficulty, when people spot you from very far away and the arrow grows bigger quickly it makes you wonder if this system should be toned down, or should be there at all. On purist mode it becomes clear the distance at which NPC's see you must be reduced! It renders disguises and fun out the window as your 4 seconds of instincts gives you no choice but to be a ninja. A simple fix that won't compromise tension of secluded areas or need for instincts; reduce detection countdown or being detected (if purist) from long range to short range.
You can however have anonymity if wearing a full face mask which is but great but rare to find.
- Animations, they are mostly good and seamless, meaning when you fire your gun at someone at hit them in the leg, they'll hold their leg in agony, and the same for wherever else you shoot them. Sometimes they crawl around on the floor. Moving in cover, rolling to another, climbing through windows, they're all fine, There's now an animation for doors too. The only animation problems I've noticed are, when holstering a weapon (they disappear from your hand) when taking out a weapon while in cover (it appears in your hand) and when moving a body (sometimes the enemies hand/foot moves into 47's hands and judder around a little when dragged) Also another, when in cover and blind firing with a shotgun, 47 moves and as he has the shotgun sideways it then suddenly changes rotation to wherever you're firing at.
- Difficulties, they come in 5 different ones and are clear in how they differ. This is a very important move because, being a game which now caters for both the more casual gamer and the hardcore fans, there needs to be several different options. Some complained about there now being no saves, only checkpoints. Both are irrelevant to me as I used neither before and preferred the old school tension of fearing dying and starting over again. The checkpoints glow at certain points on levels, this is a different approach to other games which acknowledge checkpoints upon reaching certain milestones. A glowing green symbol can ruin realism but then it gives people more choice. On purist mode which I'm playing it on, there is none of this, no HUD, no tips, just you and world around you. It's a real test of your skill and a lot of fun. The AI is somewhat realistic which is different to what I've read (PC Gamer, you lied!) If they see you and you simply try and hide behind a wall, they will come to you with their gun drawn realizing you are probably a threat, they won't just ignore you. This may not be the case on easier difficulties and thus why I'm not trying them. Read more ›