Hitman Absolution: The baldy bitch-slapping bastard with the big Silver Ballers is back once again!
This time round, it’s been over SIX years since Agent 47 last dispatched the baddies in a ‘silent assassin’ style, such that no-one saw it coming when they were about to meet their maker… or at least that’s the way it *should* be done but, when I cock this up, it’s like when you see such a murder plot go wrong in the movies and the victim-to-be makes good their escape and all you can do is chase them, put that bullet in their brain or inject them with a syringe full of poison and then hide the body in a darkened room so as not to attract suspicion.
However, take note that, while you can do what you want, when you want, without the game being restrictive, unlike the Grand Theft Auto franchise this is not a game where blasting out in all directions will help (although it is funny to do that just once or twice on a new level to see how far you can explore before being taken down).
Chicago is your destination and your first target is Diana herself, the woman who’s helped you with so many missions in the past, but now is a traitor to the cause. She’s also taken with her a girl from the agency called Victoria, who you are to bring back after eliminating Diana. There are 19 more cases to undertake once you’ve completed this initial one which, as you’ll see from the footage, also acts as a training level.
Instinct makes the baddies appear in an X-ray-cum-Ready-Break-glow so you can see where they stand even if they’re behind walls. However, this does sap your instinct meter, something which, in normal mode as I’m playing this for the first time, won’t replenish. That said, you can get additional Instinct by completing small tasks such as distracting guards so you can get past a necessary exit, as will collecting evidence, and all this helps with points. And what do points make? …More points. That’s all.
It can also be used when walking past someone when you don’t want to arouse suspicion and can sneak past unnoticed. Unfortuntely, it doesn’t last forever so you’ll need to take a chance occasionally…
If you’re one to try the more difficult settings, note that normal mode allows you to activate additional checkpoints, and as explained your instinct doesn’t automatically regenerate, and there’s normal enemy presence and reaction times. The harder ones cut down on checkpoints, sometimes to zero, and there may be no help or guides and impossibly difficult baddies to encounter.
The good bits:
Listen to conversations from baddies, as you sneak around, to sometimmes give clues about how or where best to proceed.
Early on, I enjoyed picking up a steak knife and throwing it at a baddie’s head, thus killing him, then taking it out of his skull and deftly hiding the body by tipping it over the railings into the sea… and on to the next baddie. As always, stealing their clothes to use as a disguise in order to progress further.
There’s a helpful map which aids you as to where you should be going, something that’s easy to forget after you’ve just had a heated debate with the bad guys.
I like the neat trick to put up a false surrender when you’re spotted, as you pretend to give yourself up, only to knock them out or use them as a human shield when they come for you. Melees and choke-holds are other options in incapacitating the enemy.
There are also quick reloading times when you die.
The graphics aren’t massively different from before, other than being spruced up for the 360 (yes, can you believe it’s that long? We’re nearly on the 720!) but then they were perfectly fine to begin with. At least this time there are no jaggies. Also there are cool shadows as you move about, plus Very nice lighting and rippling water effects, plus lovely blood effects when you’ve murdered someone and they ooze out all over the floor, to add to the gore and violence that’s already aplenty.
Soundwise, this is also first-rate as the alerts sound out when you’re spotting, the dialogue from characters talking to each other, plus the excellent gunfire – all in superb DD5.1 sound.
Go to page 2 for more thoughts on the game.