Hitman was one of those game series that I enjoyed playing on the original XBox but never thought about on the 360. Sure, Blood Money was available for the 360, but I didn’t have a 360 back then. One of the reasons I never missed it was probably the frustration factor. Many of the missions had very rigid rules, that meant you were continually having to go back and replay parts because you made a mistake and the game wouldn’t let you improvise.
But six years or so later and Hitman Absolution aims to remedy that. Sure the game is all about stealth, and there is really no greater pleasure for an assassin that to be able to take out your target without being seen, but mistakes do happen, and with the exception of one level later in the game, mistakes don;t spell the end of the mission, they just force you to improvise.
Improvising can mean several things, from an all out gun battle to retreating and finding a place to hid or a new disguise. There are always multiple ways to clear each level.
My way more often than not involved a massive gun battle where I’d have to dive from cover to cover and grab the weapons of my fallen foes least I run out of bullets.
IO Interactive must have figured there would be enough players like me, because they’ve made the gunplay a very pleasing part of the game. The mechanics allow you a certain amount of pre-marking your targets for an automated take down very similar to what you could do in Red Dead Redemption. The cover and shoot mechanics work well, but it’s the satisfying thud that the bullets make when they hit the intended body that really brings the game to life.
Maybe I’m a sick puppy, but there was a distinct pleasure of almost being able to feel the bullets hit home.
Of course Hitman purists will be aghast at this total carnage approach, but IO Interactive have done something very smart. They’ve created a Hitman game that allows players like me who get frustrated having to redo a segment of a mission a bajillion times just to make sure you are an invisible assassin or whatever, to be able to play the game the way we want, and not penalise us if we fall back on our guns as the only way forward. Infact the real genius is that once you’ve played through the game, you really want to go back and start all over again to see if you can do it better, to see if you can do it more sneakily.
Graphically Hitman Absolution is amazing, Agent 47 feels like he is part of a living breathing world and you’ll find your self working your way through crowded marketplaces, night clubs and even a train station, though the crowds soon disperse if shots ring out. The cut scenes are fairly good too, and the storyline is interesting enough to make you want to care about what’s going on, rather than just skipping to the next gameplay section.
Hitman is like a breath of fresh air in a gaming industry ruled by a small number of first person shooters. It allows you to play the way you want to, but encourages innovation and experimentation, as subtly demanding that you replay the game after finishing, to discover all the stuff you missed on the first pay through. It’s a rare gem of game.