"A Refreshing Hit"
It has been over six years since we last saw Agent 47 grace our consoles. IO Interactive brings us Hitman: Absolution after all these years, and it's as refreshing as a Gin and Tonic after a hot summer's day.
Hitman: Absolution's story starts where Hitman: Blood Money left off. This doesn't mean you have to go back and play the previous games. A simple reading of the plots on Wikipedia will do the job. Absolution was written with the newcomers to the series in mind, yet it keeps interest for old fans who know the canon and mythos from the past games they've enjoyed for so many years.
Before getting to gameplay, I want to talk about graphics and sound, simply because they are so impressive. With lush, detailed maps, filled with crowds, completely alive with people, everything runs smoothly and looks sharp within Hitman: Absolution's world. The atmosphere is so top-notch it reminds me of playing Deus Ex: Human Revolution, a game in which level design was true art in itself, with major attention paid to each atmospheric detail. Hitman: Absolution's urban landscapes are utterly seedy and vibrant at the same time. The soundtrack by Jesper Kyd (of Assassin's Creed fame) is also a knock-out piece of work worthy of a soundtrack album. Voiceovers and acting are filled with old-school and experienced talent, which unfolds organically.
As far as gameplay, fans of the original Hitman series and newcomers alike are in for a treat. Things aren't perfect, and they can often be slow and meticulous, but variety is the name of the game. Each kill comes with a good dose of style and free-thinking. I say this because there are plenty of ways to take down your hits. Of course, you will be stealth-killing, hiding bodies, and performing general stealth gaming tropes, but you will be offered a series of different situations in which you can make the hits. Costumes, misdirection, alternate paths, a variety of weapons... however you choose to make the kill, you will be graded on it as far as style and performance. You have the ability to mix stealth playing with guns-blazing type of gameplay, or if you are the type who likes to camp with a sniper rifle, the option is there too. Regardless, you'll find most of Hitman: Absolution loses its flavor if you aren't performing stealth kills, so patience is rewarded.
Even though you can gun your way out of a situation if you've been caught in the act, once you set the difficulty of the game to more challenging levels, this becomes much harder. A new additional "point shooting" option slows time down, so you can then select the enemies you want to shoot. Once your actions are selected, the game then goes back to normal time and those actions are executed. This is good for players like me who aren't stealth masters, though I can see some older Hitman fans not thinking it's a great addition, since it's sacrificing actual stealth for this sort of option.
Hitman: Absolution is a sandbox game that can be rushed or slowed down, so you can put as many hours as you want into it. IO Interactive has achieved taking an old series, an old genre, and kept what is good while improving it all for finer balance and smoother gameplay. Hitman: Absolution may not have changed the series up as much as say Shattered Memories did for Silent Hill, or Driver: San Francisco did for the Driver series, but that is fine in my book. Even though Hitman: Absolution is essentially more of the same, it feels completely new and fresh.It's like a comic book from the 90s, but one of the good ones. At the end of the day, old Hitman fans can breathe easy, and those interested in the series should give it a shot. I was more impressed with Hitman: Absolution than I ever thought I'd be.
GameDynamo's Score for Hitman Absolution (X360)
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