Agent 47 Stole My Heart
It may come as no surprise that what follows is a glistening review of the latest in the Hitman series. I’ve sung Absolution’s praises on Twitter, and even culled social arrangements in favour of spending time with Agent 47.
Hitman: Absolution is a very good game. This may be a relief to those who watched the trailer, which lacked an element of stealth as Agent 47 slaughtered the Saints, causing some to be concerned that Hitman: Absolution had lost its roots.
I don’t think it has lost its roots, although admittedly I am not too familiar with the Hitman series. I have only played Blood Money and Absolution, and in general haven’t touched many stealthy games. Not because I don’t enjoy them, but it doesn’t seem to be a particularly popular genre on current-gen consoles.
Anyway… back to Hitman. I was terrible at Blood Money. I struggled throughout and was frequently spotted with a gun in my hand.
With Hitman it requires a solid degree of patience—waiting for enemies to move so you’re out of their line of sight, or for your target to be where you need them to be, which can often mean hiding in a bin for several minutes (by the way, I once had to hide in a bin in real life. It’s not fun). In that respect it isn’t for everyone.
Off the bat I made the decision to give myself a challenge. To play on Hard and to be as true a hitman as possible. This meant I would use my gun as little as possible, conceal every body and—where possible—pull off an accidental kill (pushing a guard over a balcony so it looks like he fell to his death, for example). I wanted to cover my tracks. This has meant my best friend throughout Absolution has been “restart checkpoint”.
Enemies are smart, but not unconvincingly so. The balance is just right (though I can only speak for Hard). It was a challenge, but never to the frustrating degree a Call of Duty game on Veteran is.
The campaign is a decent length, too. After over a week of playing pretty solidly, I am about three quarters through the story mode. I haven’t even touched the Contracts, which is a whole other mode to play. The levels are fairly varied, but having completed about 75% of the game, I have grown accustomed to looking for vents and alternative routes to my target. Levels initially felt overwhelming, but I have since come to adapt to the hitman way of thinking.
One factor in Agent 47 stealing my heart was down to his relationship with 14 year old Victoria. Although I’m not well acquainted with the series, his devotion to Victoria seemed jarring with his introverted character. I’ve enjoyed seeing that human side to him.
I think the highlight of the game, though, was the challenging mission of eliminating all 7 Saints. Unlike the trailer suggested, you can approach this in a stealthy way, which is what I wanted to do. It took me a while to get through the mission, but approaching the 7 assassinations differently was fun!
Of course, Hitman: Absolution isn’t without its flaws. There are a few nuances such as costume consistency across cut scenes. You can make use of disguises throughout the game to blend into a location, but trigger a cut scene and you are often suddenly wearing the trademark Agent suit. Inexcusable in a game released in 2012, and reeks of lazy developing.
As you may know, I like my games to be challenging and portray a sense of realism. Although the true aim of a Hitman game is to remain undetected, if you are detected—which is sometimes unavoidable—it can take a whole clip of bullets from several enemies before any damage is done to Agent 47.
Ultimately, you could get spotted and have guards shooting at you, but still make it to your objective at the other end of the map. Completely unrealistic.
No game is perfect, though, and I am more than happy to overlook those flaws for what is otherwise a very solid game. I don’t think there are enough stealthy games on the 360, and Absolution is both welcoming to newcomers as well as a challenge to hardcore Hitman fans (I’d like to try a playthrough on Purist).
I do think my love for this game is exaggerated down to my recent disappointment with other games, as well as a few other factors, but putting those aside I can’t deny that Absolution is worth playing.
So… stick it on Hard, put down the Silverballers, and try to get through a mission as pure a hitman as possible. Good luck!