Hitman Absolution review
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A fun approach to the assassin genre that gives players plenty of options to progress through levels, dodge the police, and eliminate targets.
- Multiple gameplay approaches
- Contracts mode adds addictive community competition
- Solid overall presentation
- Mediocre A.I.
- Lackluster narrative
- Annoying save and checkpoint system
(continued from previous page) ...out of cover to silently subdue an enemy, or use your cover to make it through levels without detection.
The shooting mechanics have been reworked since Blood Money, and it's really hit or miss. Shooting without cover can feel overly loose while the slow motion Point Shooting feels like a cheat. Sure, you only have to use it in a few situations, but Point Shooting adds to 47's abilities that feel kind of out of place. Precision Shot is better as you can barely press down a button to get a better, more steady aim at your target. You can switch on Instinct Mode with a simple press of the button, which gives Agent 47 the ability to see enemies through walls and even patrol lines on lower difficulty settings. It has a bit of a Deus Ex feel to it, but again it is not required and those assassin buffs may never use it. The higher the difficulty--there are five settings--the less instinct abilities you have. The difficulty settings require you to approach levels differently as areas could have more enemies or on different patrols.
The A.I. is definitely not a surprise for a stealth game. On harder settings they are more aware of your mistakes, and on lower settings it's easier to stay hidden. But the A.I. also has a tendency to lose interest in you all too quickly. Do the bad guys not communicate? I remember at one point the level was fit into a few floors, and I took the approach of killing every enemy as I progressed. But when I hid my first victim in the bathroom, the rest of the floor's enemies went into hunting mode and didn't bother to look in a bathroom stall to find me. Even after I killed them in a fiery gun battle, the baddies upstairs didn't blink an eye at all the noise coming from the floor below.
It should be noted that you don't get to pick you load out at the start of each level and you don't get your beloved Silverballers right away. The game instead uses weapons scattered throughout the level more as collectibles instead of usable items. This gives the game plenty of replay value, and for the most part you won't miss the assortment of weapons at your disposal if you play it as a true stealth game. But things are a bit different in the game's wonderfully built Contracts Mode, which opens the door to user-created kill scenarios. The idea here is to create custom hits through the game's existing levels. You can pick how to play through each level, what weapons are available, and even what targets you want eliminated. You can ask your friends to challenge your contact to see if they can beat your time. If Contracts Mode isn't enough to keep Absolution in your PlayStation 3 for a while, the game's scoring system and enormous amount of collectibles will surely have you coming back for more. Plus, the game's difficulty settings offers players unique challenges and will give you a true test once you learn the basic mechanics.
The presentation is quite impressive. There were moments in levels that really had me impressed. Levels are typically split into small sections, and in a few occasions switching between these sections has some surprisingly cool moments. For example, popping through a door from a dark building out onto busy streets comes with brilliant (and not overused) lens flares and a wave of noise from the crowds. The score is well placed and never gets in the way, leaving the final moments of levels frantic through intense music.
The game doesn't have a great save system, and instead uses what feels like random checkpoints available to physically activate. You do get saves through the breaks in levels, but going back isn't really possible meaning checkpoints are sometimes a gamble. The story is halfway decent, but pretty forgettable. Outside those issues, Hitman Absolution is quite fun and gives you plenty of opportunities to play how you want. Veterans of the series may feel betrayed, but if you think of this as more of a reboot than a sequel, then it’ll feel more like a fresh take on the assassin genre.
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