on 23 November 2012
Perhaps the defining characteristic of the Hitman series was its flawed genius. Clunky gameplay and a plethora of bugs were offset by novel originality and an atmospheric sandbox world. In `Hitman: Absolution', IO Interactive have perfected the formula albeit at a price.
First off, the perfection: never before has Agent 47 been so charged with menace. What's more, you feel like a killer, a professional whose trade is artful murder. This has been pulled off in a couple of ways. First, IO have brought a physicality to 47 which was missing from the previous games and translates into every kill. Second, enemies can be taken down with far greater flexibility - no more sneaking up behind them at just the right moment only to somehow miss with your garrotte. Third, the shooting system is far more innovative. The new `instinct' system - which allows 47 to blend into his surroundings and monitor his foes - also allows `point shooting': i.e. stopping time to tag your targets before effortlessly taking them down in one deadly sweep. For diehards, this may be cheating, but its availability is limited and, besides, it's by no means forced upon you, acting as a cool flourish rather than a central gameplay mechanic.
However, there's a price to this: the free form sandbox gameplay in the previous games hasn't been left intact. Likely to make room for a smoother world with fewer bugs, IO have streamlined levels. The upshot of this is that the world is more economical, the gameplay richer somehow. But the structure is more linear and the settings themselves chronologically compartmentalised into sections. Generally speaking, there's just one main path through each level, with few detours - and stealth is a constant must as certain enemies will see through disguises. At no point are you being forced along. Levels focused on taking down a target have numerous approaches that can be taken, and, unless you want to go Rambo, patience is a must, just as before. But the overall feeling is that although the levels are large, their compartmentalisation makes them less complex. A mistake in one section won't affect the rest of the level, which sucks out some of the fun for perfectionists and diehards who enjoy balancing the consequences. It's much easier in this respect.
But the package IO Interactive have offered up is probably their best-rounded and it feels like a lot of love has gone into it. Although the story is simple, the characters are the best yet; the guns are incredibly satisfying to use; the environments are as atmospheric as ever; and the music doesn't suffer from the absence of the series' trademark composer, Jesper Kyd. The game has been described elsewhere as Lynchian - something which is very true, the elements at play here derivative of an Americana that is dark, morbid and surreal.
`Absolution' isn't flawed in the same way that its predecessors were. The perfected gameplay and streamlined structure marks a radical step in a new direction for the series. Hopefully, later instalments will keep the new gameplay system and bring back some of the freeform sandbox complexity (minus the bugs), but for now, the Hitman experience isn't going to get much better than this.
on 9 October 2014
As someone who had never played any of the older Hitman games it was always going to feel awkward jumping in when several older games have been released, though in the end Absolution was more than good enough to turn me in to a convert. There are a few drawbacks but in general this is a solid game that's only a few steps away from being one of the true greats.
To start with, the game has done really well in terms of presentation. The graphics look slick, the voice acting is very well done, the music sets a fantastic tone and the voice actors are all competent in their own right. It's all well executed and does a good job of creating a fitting atmosphere for the game.
The story however is just okay. The plot itself isn't all that ridiculous considering that this is a game but the characters are just caricatures and most of them are sorely in need of some depth; this being my first Hitman game also made it feel like I missed some greater context sometimes which didn't exactly help with feeling immersed.
The gameplay on the other hand feels great. Most of the game puts you in open ended levels where you can kill your targets in all sorts of creative ways and which gives you a lot of room to explore and experiment. You can use any of the dozens of weapons that are at your disposal but also make use of the environment, ranging anywhere from car explosions to inconspicuous electrocutions. Absolution is at its best when you explore the level to slowly and carefully plan your move before striking your targets all the while managing to avoid raising any eyebrows. Patience is most certainly a virtue here.
The game also offers plenty of replayability. Contracts mode allows players all over the world to create custom challenges for you to complete, which allows for a near-endless amount of new content for you get in to. This will be especially true for those of you who prefer a challenge, plenty of which is provided in this mode.
Unfortunately, there are a few things Absolution gets wrong too.
The AI in particular needs some improving, especially in regard to disguises that you might be wearing while sneaking through a level. These work in way where the people dressed the same as you will be the only ones who can detect you as an assassin. It's reasonable to get detected by all the meat shop workers while sneaking around in a small shop since there's a few of them and they all probably know each other, but it doesn't make any sense to do the same thing with the police. Chicago hires thousands of police officers yet somehow the disguise doesn't work with any of them even though there is no conceivable way that they all actually know each other.
It's also a little irritating that you can't save the game where you want. The only time the game saves is when you complete a level, or if you're playing on a lower difficulty, find a checkpoint within the levels. This isn't that big a problem but it does mean that once you're playing the game it forces you to commit a minimum amount of time, which seems out of date in this day and age.
Another thing that is particularly annoying is just how forgiving the game is. While the game encourages you to be stealthy and sneak through everywhere, it also gives you ample room to simply fight your way out of bad situations. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, since some of that is to be expected, but there are far too many levels where you can simply shoot your way through if you really wanted to, and the fact that this is possible is absurd in a game that is supposed to be based around stealth. The Point Shooting system in particular allows you to quickly kill a few enemies in mere seconds, which feels like it's really out of place and would be better suited to an adrenaline-filled action game instead.
Overall the game is good fun and generally gets things right, although there are a few niggling problems that stop it short of being truly great. It's certainly worth your time.
on 26 November 2012
Considering the large amount of time I've spent playing this, I feel a bit harsh giving only 3-stars, there are some good but way too many bad elements:
- Some of the levels are brilliant, open ended, funny, loads of options and accidents avaialble.
- The challenges for each level provide lots of re-playability without feeling boring.
- The graphics, music and kill-sequences are superb, much more fluid and adaptable.
- A simple interface makes for easy control, making complex timing challenging but never frustrating.
- The new 'Contracts' levels are mildly diverting and can act as a welcome break from the main story.
- A dull, dull DULL story that is not wanted or needed, no-one wants a moral or emotional Agent 47...
- A large number of rubbish levels that are simply "get from A-B without being seen", or Uncharted-esque press button fight sequences.
- The accident kills are made blindingly obvious, and sledom require timing, you just set it up and then wait for a kill to be confirmed whilst doing something else.
- An inconsistent disguise/suspicion system.
- Terrible cutscenes and zero-dimensional characters (bad guys are all perverted swear factories, women are all pornstars, and the little girl to whom 47 is mysteriously devoted might as well be a platic doll.
It's a really mixed bag, we all know the best bits of previous games, the best levels were often contained buildings, with lots of subtle options, a bit of humour and some real originality (the hotel in the original hitman, the apartment in silent assassion, the country house in contracts, the suburban house and xmas party in blood money). At times Absolution recalls and recreates these levels, and when it does it is brilliant, but too often it loses it's way and becomes a matter of going through the motions of subduing and hiding guards until you can progress to the next good level. Losing the ability to inject food with poison was a very bad call...
Blood money is still far and away the best hitman game, all Absolution had to do was more of the same, with better graphics, and with the challenges component for re-plays, but instead they've tried to make it into a film, except with none of the depth or finesse required to make us give a solitary crap about any of the characters, IO have just made more bland cutscenes and more plot-advancing levels.
Having said all that, I've played it a lot, and will play it a lot more, and it's still better than a lot of the mindlessly linear, bulletfests that are currently stuffing up the market "cough...COD...cough!"
on 20 November 2012
It's a miracle just how having no multiplayer makes a game so damn good, it's reminiscent of the days of the old consoles where online gaming wasn't big and how developers focussed solely on the single player aspect of a game, it shows a lot, these days there are not enough games like this, with the ABSENCE of multiplayer (yes, there is NO multiplayer and it's not a rushing game either so don't buy it if you're looking for some sort of Assassins Creed with guns type game) you can see just how much effort has gone into this game.
It is NOT a game for the rushing type of player, if this is your first Hitman game (as it is mine) you will get a surprise shock at how slow it is, you cannot simply rush into a place and kill your targets, it will take a long time stealthing your way around the environments, which I must say, are beautiful to look at, the amount of detail is stunning when running in HD, but back to the gameplay, the control mechanics take time to adjust to but are great after a while, they're fluid and avoid that clunky control mechanic seen in some games (RE6 we're looking at you here), as I mentioned previously, this game is SLOW, it forces you to take your time because if you rush, you will die, unless you're playing on easy, which I don't recommend as that will pretty much negate the point of the whole stealth aspect of the game, to stay alive you really really have to think, there are so many ways to kill your target, I had a pleasant surprise on my first one when it said there are TWELVE ways to kill one guy, which basically means a whole lot of replayability.
- Superb gameplay mechanics
- Points system which makes you want to replay the level to complete the challenges in each level
- Story is very lengthy due to the massive amount of stealth which is rare these days
- Contracts mode, create your own challenges for the world to play and for you to play others contracts
- So many ways to go through a level, it's refreshing to see a game where YOU can CHOOSE your OWN way through a level!
- None in particular
Overall, if you're new to the Hitman series (like me) I'd say this is a good place to start, as long as you have patience, if you're an action packed game lover, who loves rushing i.e CoD, Battlefield, MoH players stay away from this unless you can adjust to the slow pace of this, I love fast paced games like CoD don't get me wrong but this is a game for patient, collected and dare I say it, intelligent players..or rather, killers. Good luck 47.
on 5 December 2012
As we draw to a close on the current console's abilities, it's hard to still be impressed these days with new games, as every other game released right now, seems to be a copy of sorts of something else. Sleeping Dogs is very much like GTA. Max Payne 3 is just another decent 3rd person linear shooter. Call of Duty Black Ops 2 is... well.. if you want to be really harsh, just a very elongated expansion pack of Call of Duty 4. ( It is people deal with it ! LOL )
So it was such a suprize and joy to play a game as Hitman Absolution, and use in game mechanic's and ideas that are new and fresh even now; that the only real comparison anywhere close to the gameplay being Splinter Cell Conviction, and even then, it's just a small part of that game.
Having not played the previous Hitman game, "Blood Money", i can't confirm if the story for Absolution, continues that game from 6 years ago. What i can tell you is that as a stand alone game, you get up to speed very simply and very quickly with the excellent opening cinematics of Absolution.
The story is, you play as Agent 47, an ICA Hitman for hire. Your handler in the Agency is a lady called Diana Burnwood, but Diana has just gone rogue and taken a "package" with her that the agency wants back. You start the game by killing Diana, but what she tells you in her deathscene has you searching for your own Absolution.
The story is great to begin with, and it's all presented well with some supurb graphics and awsome soundtrack. What isn't so great is the characters you face along the way are out of place in the world your playing. They would be more at home in a superhero game like Batman than a real world hitman one, but even so they are all voiced and acted extremely well. The narrative does seem to wain a little towards the end of the game, and some levels later, i really wasn't sure why i was there to be honest.
Your journey though from start to finish, will be different to any other persons playing the game, and therein lies the real reason this is such a supurb game with extremely high replay value. This will be YOUR adventure even though level to level you all have the same goals.
As there is no hand to guide you, no large arrow saying move here, shoot this, that so many games use to pull you through like a lemming, it felt quite daunting to start as you weren't sure where to go. So you start to explore. Your instinct mode gives you the hints needed to figure it out, but the grey mass in your head will get a workout playing this game. Each level will be played out differently per player. You have to ready yourself to have to think your way through the game rather than be lead through the nose. You basically have to think and be creative like a Hitman!
Whilst on your first playthrough, you'll find things and objects to interact with you didn't realize you could, so you play the level again to use them. On your second playthrough you'll find even more things to use and wonder how to apply them. In all there is approximately at least 10 or more ways per level, ( and there are a lot of levels in a 20 hour playthrough ) to achieve the end goal, and depending on your mood, which you choose to do is up to you.
The game simply encourages the player to explore and take his time, find alternative routes, plan, perfect, and exeucte. And THEN my dear reader your playing as a true hitman should and when you will get the most from the game. Yes there is a small warehouse full of guns to be able to use each and every level, but to be honest, that is actually the most unsatifying way to complete the game, ie using a firearm. There are times and places where using a firearm is the way to go, and just as satisfying as using stealth, but whenever my cover was blown and i got into a firefight, i paused the game and reloaded the last checkpoint. It's not that you can't gun your way out of a situation, or that it's not fun to do so, just you won't really want to, and your not really supposed to gun your way all the way from A to B per level. Your get a higher score for being the silent, perfect assasin.
The fun is to be had in finding a way to ... for example... electricute a target whilst he's having a pee... or poisoning the chef when he's making dinner, or even turning on a gas stove without being spotted, then shooting the cooker from distance to make it all look like one big accident! THAT's where the game really shines. It's like an elaborated game of chess. How do you get the enemy to move one of his pieces over there out of the way, so i can swoop in for the kill ??
Your supposed to savour each and every segment of the game like a fillet steak dinner, but the game is also clever enough to know, if you sometimes want a quick fast food burger portion, you can still progress by having an old fashioned shootout. Instant gratification yes, but when your done slaughtering everyone you know you should have had something else to eat!
There has been much conjecture about the games AI and the disguise system. There are occasions where it is a bit too random and unrealistic, but nothing that is game breaking or a distraction. I played the game through on Normal difficulty, and frankly found that enough of a challange on it's own! Increasing the difficulty, decreased your abilities.
The controls can be a tad cumbersome, mainly just the execution killing system. RB, X, LT to highlight enemies, RT to pin point them, X to then excute. All seemed a bit too labourious when flustered, but seeing as the game has a very slow pace, this never was too much of an issue. That apart the controls were fine.
Contracts Mode is the games online version, where you don't play live with friends, but you play SP segments, created by users, with scores to better in the style you so wish, or within parameters set by the user. In the opening week alone there were 50,000 online contracts to play, which if you enjoyed the SP campaign will give you years of extra playability. Playing contracts gives you credits to then use to uprgade weapons and abilities, and there are a LOT of both!
Setting up a contract for others to play is simple and fun. You basically just play, and whilst playing set your parameters as you go along. How you make the hit is recorded with a base score for others to beat. The online section is certainly not a throwaway part as there are competitions, messages, and a social aspect to the game. It's very well thought out.
Finally on a practical note, it's refreshing to find a game released with no glitches or issues, it all worked perfectly from the off, all the way through.
As a huge fan of the spy genre, i personally got a HUGE kick out of playing Hitman Absolution. I can't but help feel the story was a bit of a let down and a disappointment though. It starts off in a very Bourne like manner, but it then veers off in a direction i feel didn't suit the introduction to the game, or indeed follow on from the contents of the prequel book, Hitman Damnation.
You CAN have too much of a good thing, as so much empahisis has been put into making each level difficult and slow paced, you can sometimes get frustrated and want to rush things for a bit of variety. There's no on rails sequences, driving, or cinematic quick time events. It's just full on steak steak steak from start to finish. It's hard to critizie the game for a lack of variety when each level actually has a lot of it in it, in the way to make the kill, just you did feel like you needed a change of pace from time to time, rather than the seriousness gruffness, full on from start to finish.
That being said, it's a strangley linear, yet non linear game that will have you coming back for more. I often found myself replaying the same small seqment for hours just to "perfect" the kill in that level, and every time i failed, i wanted to do nothing more than go back and try again to find out the right way to make the hit. The reason was, the satifaction of nailing the perfect annoymous kill, sometimes in a very fun and entertaining way, was hugely rewarding and very addictive. Then when you realize the game is chocked full of many hits like that from start to finish, Hitman will have you sitting at home over dinner, at work in the office, out driving the car.. thinking about how do you make that perfect signature kill ....
That my friend, is up to you to find out.
Silly in game characters, no change of pace, bring down what is an intelligent, graphically sumptuous, difficult, challanging, fun, with HUGE replay value game. This is a sytlish game. Don't rush through it. Take the phone off the hook, sit back and savour this classy experience. It's refreshing beacuse it's so different to anything else you will have played.
on 13 August 2014
I really enjoy this game, Ok it's not as legendary as the brilliant "Blood Money" ( we'll have to wait for the forthcoming Ps4 Hitman release to make the ultimate comparison) but the elemental touches are there, once you have completed the game and maybe all the challenges i find going back to the game play is quite enjoyable, being able to stalk about listening to the quite often amusing comments by the AI Characters, and taking them out using a variety of implements laying about--currently the baseball bat is an amusing fave, the 'Coconut' sound of head knocking as well as the exclamations of surprise are quite funny. to attract victims i place a "Radio Of death" in the appropriate place or let someone run off to get help as a "Messenger of Death" and the body count despite the lack of common sense from the victims can be quite impressive. the proximity mine is another fave--Blackwater park Hotel being a very loud destructive venue to blow agency guards sky-high. The "magic Pockets" i don't think is a real issue bearing in mind it is a game and not "Real Life" although how he can successfully stuff away a sniper rifle into his bespoke suit is a mystery but i really think it adds to the Black Humor theme in this game. the Fiberwire is as usual the default weapon and is a real asset for Silent & signature Kills 'some missions require and the ability to drag away the victim with the fiberwire is a real bonus, though when you kill someone i cannot understand how the victim Coughs as they expire--but again this is the Black Humor undercurrent of the game and along with the crisp detailing of the graphics and playability makes this game enjoyable. there are the odd quirks like bodies bouncing around, thrown items disappearing into walls etc, guards being able to see your neferous activities, the funniest quirk are dead bodies lazily "Waving" as you stack 'em up, and hiding in a chest/closet in the immediate area and not obviously being spotted hiding there what with the heavy breathing and using L1 to Peek Out just makes me laugh. all in all play the game, complete it and come back and go thru each level and mess about. Recommended.
on 30 December 2012
I'll make this review quick and easy with some pros and cons!
Here are the pluses!
- The more open ended levels are great, and do feel like proper Hitman
- The variety of weapons is truly amazing; they must have quite an imagination at IO Interactive
- David Bateson is still the voice of 47 which is fantastic!
- The graphics are very, very good, even by modern standards, the visual effects in particular are outstanding
- The accident kills are still great fun
Now to the negatives which I'm afraid are rather more substantial:
- The game is far too story driven; which really limits the freedom of the missions.
- The various villians are just terrible; their evil is overplayed to the point of silliness
- Characters just seem to appear and vanish without any explanation - what happened to Birdie? Who's the random detective who has about two scenes?
- The AI are still erratic and unpredictable, and often fail you notice you as they walk right past your position.
- The new suspicion/instinct system doesn't work; why would a guard be less suspicious of you just because they left your line of sight? Just walking like a normal person is stranger than rolling around and ducking behind cover, even if its right in front of them. Ridiculous - one of the worst parts of the game.
- The aiming is very hard to control; anything over 15 feet is a challenge frankly
- Removing the ability to reload with a human shield; what was the purpose of this? Completely ruined the fun of stands offs
- The locations are far too limited; every other mission seems to happen in a hotel. The varied levels of Blood Money simply don't exist in this game.
- The routines of the targets are too quick and predictable.
- Too much running from the police/Dexter's men/the agency; completely destroys the feeling of freedom. These scenes last for ages and seem to happen after every major mission.
- Lastly, and MOST IMPORTANTLY, it's just not Hitman! There are about 2/3 levels out of 19ish that follow the traiditional HItman formula of being in the middle of a big, often public, place and finding a way to off your target. Many of the missions are compartmentalised and so arent properly open world at all. The onlt two proper levels are the ones that IO deviously showed in the gameplay trailers. They obviously know they're popular; so why not give us more? So stupid and illogical.
In conclusion; I love Hitman but this game was a big disappointment to be frank. Hoping for better next time round!
on 28 November 2012
I've been a fan of the Hitman franchise since the very first one which was a PC exclusive title. I have thoroughly enjoyed every instalment to date, some of them admittedly have been better than others but they're all stellar titles and one of my personal favourite series of games of all time. As far as a quality stealth game goes, it's right up there with Splinter Cell and the Metal Gear games.
Now, I'll go so far as to say that I have not quite finished this new one as yet, although I get the impression I am indeed coming to the end. I shall do what I can to keep this free of spoilers.
If you look at the natural progression of games through the years it's actually quite impressive to see not only just how much it has changed, but what environments you are placed in and what options and tools you have at your disposal with which to find your target, and do what Agent 47 does best.
I shan't go too much into the story, but what I will say is it features a character who we as players of the whole Hitman franchise have really grown accustomed to. I had wondered for a while exactly what level of involvement this character had, and what the makers would do with them. Also, there are plenty of new characters introduced to us, and they, and what they do is simply unheard of in the world of the Hitman games, and it was really good to see Square Enix and I-O think outside the box and provide us with characters that really make us want to carry on playing.
Graphically, the game is nothing spectacular or groundbreaking but the Glacier 2 engine certainly is a solid one, which objects reacting how you expect them to, and textures being what we've become accustomed to in this generation of video games. There are a few levels early on that are quite dark, and some levels later on that have smoke or dust flying around, and this gives coverage for any rough edges. The dark levels are really well done though, and you really do feel immersed within the world, the atmosphere is just top notch.
Gameplay will be very familiar for Hitman veterans, with a couple of new additions (one of which might not sit well with some long term fans) just to keep the game fresh. This feature that might not sit well is called "Instinct" and will be a handy feature for those new to the Hitman franchise. Basically, to break it down, the Instinct feature allows you to ever so slightly slow down time, whilst simultaneously highlighting enemies (even through walls) as well as their patrol patterns in some cases, and important environmental elements available to you with which to make your assassination more like an accident. Having this mode turned on comes at a cost however. On the lower difficulty levels it doesn't drain too often, and when it does it regenerates over time as you'd expect. If you're simply stationary and you're using it to monitor patrol routes it isn't affected. But if you're using the cover of a disguise to get somewhere, you can hold down the R1 button as you walk past a group of people dressed similar to you and ducking your head slightly to stop enemies from blowing your cover. It's a great little system and will most likely provide a lot of players with assistance, but like I said some players may feel like it's cheating or that it makes the game too easy. It's not a necessity, but it certainly helps.
The other feature I mentioned is a cover system not unlike the one used in Deus Ex: Human Revolution, and this cover system is a very helpful mechanic. I did find that it is sometimes too easy to just come away from the wall and out of cover and this can be annoying but not enough to warrant making it a major flaw.
Previous Hitman games had their soundtracks created by Jesper Kyd, whose music I must admit I do thoroughly enjoy both in and out of a game. Especially his soundtrack for Hitman Contracts, which is still to this day one of the best video game soundtracks I have ever heard. This one, however, does not have Jesper Kyd behind the wheel. As a matter of fact, there isn't really a great deal of music to speak of. Which I wouldn't really say is a bad thing, because it's quiet when you really want it to be quiet, providing maximum immersion into the world so you can concentrate and really feel like you are in fact Agent 47. To be quite honest I was so very much immersed in what was going on around me that I didn't even notice the lack of music, and upon reflection I don't feel that those moments would be benefitted by having music behind them anyway, for they are perfect just the way they are.
For anybody who is looking for an online mode, there is the Contracts mode which has already exceeded 50,000 contracts made by players, for players. This mode allows you to go around the 20 levels that were initially released within the game (with DLC imminently on its way I would imagine) and create a contract within the boundaries of those levels. These contracts have parameters set by the creator, stating who the player is to assassinate, and how exactly to go about it, with a constant worldwide leader board to keep you up to date with just what you need to do to get a high rating. It's a really great concept, and one that I see myself spending a lot of time on, and it also increases the game's replay ability immensely, as there are so many contracts to choose from with a whole manner of variety to keep it fresh.
In conclusion, Hitman Absolution is very much all that I hoped it would be and so much more, I haven't been forced to think so much about my tactics in a game for a very long time, and this is a welcome return for not only that feeling of knowing that your tactics were on top form, but for the Hitman franchise as a whole. Very proud and pleased to give them my money for this one, I can see myself enjoying this game for many, many hours indeed. Well done Square Enix and I-O. You have not disappointed. 5 out of 5.
on 4 March 2013
What a great game, I knew of the other games but never got around to trying any of them out.
This came up on Amazon at an absolute steal of a price and so I purchased it.
Really glad that I did as the game and the controls are easy enough (whilst not being too simplistic) to pick up. The missions are challenging and REALLY good fun to play.
I especially like the way it is not too regimented on how you complete the missions, but each method brings it own benefits and bonuses.
At this price every FPS fan should buy this game.
on 20 November 2012
I've had this game since Friday. My god what a game, the best stealth game Of my lifetime.
First off the story:
I'm playing on hard and believe it is what it says, If you're spotted you're dead in 5 secs. That's what makes it so great the brain never rests, you're always thinking. It's a real man's game. When you complete a level, you feel like punching the air. Unlike Assaissins creed 3 cutscenes are short and simple.
Gameplay: simple controls. All that needs to be said. Very easy to move in this game
This is where the replay value is. Players can create contracts/missions for other players to do. At the end of the mission there is a leaderboard. You can create/play a contract just with your friends or worldwide players. I think it's genius how they've done it.
10/10 game of the year