Right off the bat, I'm going to let you know where I'm coming from with this review,
And heads up there might be some *spoilers*
I've played every single Hitman game since the release of Hitman: Codename 47 back in 2000, and Hitman Blood Money is one of my top three favorite video games of all time. I enjoy games that lets me handle situations as I would, and games that reward the player for thinking outside the box. So when I heard that IO Interactive was working on a new Hitman game I was stoked, because lately the game industry hasn't really scratched that itch (Notable exceptions are Deus Ex: Human Revolution and Dishonored)
I was hoping that IO Interactive could bring Hitman into this generation and pave the way for the next generation games. Because despite how awesome Blood Money is, it's a bit dated.
So did the developer deliver what I expected?
I can't really decide,
Did I like this game despite it's flaws? Yes.
Did the game improve the series? No
I'll start with what the game did well
I liked the story, despite the fact that every character in this game is a cliche, the Hitman games hasn't been known for having the best story. Heck, in some of the games, you wouldn't even notice that there were a story until the last few missions, But to me that doesn't matter. I preach and preach to my friends about how I don't like Call of Duty because the story sucks and only lasts a 3 - 6 hours, while on the other hand, I don't care about the story of one of my favorite game series of all time,
Yeah I'm a hypocrite, so what?
But Hitman Absolution is a much more story driven game than the games that came before, this acts as both a Pro and a Con for the game. It adds a driving force for the players who haven't played the other Hitman games, It serves as a reason to why 47 does what he does, and as I said, the story is good. Why it also acts as a "Con" I'll get back to in a few.
Hitman Absolution also makes me feel like I'm a part of the world around me, People commenting on 47's attire, or the way 47 leans up against a wall feels alot better than the fleetingness of the previous games in the series, where I felt like 47 really isn't all that present in the world around him.
The voice acting is good, the gaming media scared me a while back with the news of David Bateson not returning as 47 and having been replaced by Keith Carradine, but luckily this didn't prove true, Mr. Carradine is in the game as one of the antagonists, and he does a great job, and is an actor who I really like. But David Bateson is the soul of 47, and the series wouldn't have been the same without him.
Keith Carradine did a good job as Blake Dexter
Hitman Absolution also introduces a new game play element, Instinct, Instinct helps 47 evade suspicion while wearing disguises, "sensing" where enemies are, and pull off stylized "mark and execute" moves that allow you to take down several enemies at once, Much like Red Dead Redemption and Splinter Cell Conviction before it. doing any of these actions depletes your instinct meter, but doing various tasks, like taking down enemies, hiding bodies and completing objectives fills the instinct meter, It can sometimes be tiresome to "grind for instinct" by taking down enemies that could have been left alone and hiding their bodies just so that you can use instinct to sneak past an enemy, but I'll let that slide
Contracts, (which serves as the multiplayer-esque element in the game) is a great addition, it allows players to replay levels and complete contracts that other players have created, This is where the living breathing world of Hitman absolution comes into to play, for instance one of the contracts I played (created by VMC-Phil I believe)
I got the mission to take out a drug dealer and a crooked cop that works together behind the scenes of the game, the contract could have specified how the assassination should play out, but in this instance, my hands weren't tied at all, I could handle them anyway I wanted and any collateral damage was accepted. You can use any gun or disguise that you've picked up in the main game, except on contracts that specify which disguise and weapon you should use
As the game tells you, this is how Hitman players have challenged each other before, and for IO Interactive to tailor an entire game mode just for this is a great idea that has been executed perfectly.
Now for the bad,
(Disclaimer: I played this game all the way through on Hard Difficulty, people who play it on other difficulties, or who are just plain better than me, might have other experiences)
What I love about games like Hitman, Deus Ex, Dishonored and Splinter Cell is, as I've mentioned before, the games let me try out my own tactics, and if I'm successful, they'll sometimes reward me for it.
It is then somewhat heartbreaking to see a new installment in a series that made it's name for being adaptive and letting the players decide their own play style, force you down a path they've laid out. This is where the story driven elements hurts the game as a whole.
In several parts of the story, 47 finds himself trapped, there are people searching for him and he'll have to evade them to get to his goal, While on paper this sounds like a great idea, The fact that the disguise system doesn't work at all in these situations, is quite frustrating.
Take the level where you have to break into Dexter Industries for example, there are armed guards left and right, These will try to arrest you if they see you, Luckily the developers have planned for that and allow you to fake surrender so that you can disarm the arresting guard, and knock him out. This only works according to plan if that guard happens to be the only guy seeing you at the time, if you are seen by any others, they will draw their guns, call for help, and you got a shootout on your hands.
If this was something that didn't happen all that much, I wouldn't mind, but it happens all the damn time in missions like these. Disguises have been one of the core elements of the Hitman series, and the fact is that they pretty much ruined that aspect of the game now. The only help the disguises give is if you can find a disguise that one else is wearing (almost if not impossible in levels like Dexter Industries and The Library), or if you stay far away from the guards while wearing the disguise, using up all the instinct meter every time a guard looks at you.
There are also some moments of the game where I didn't see any alternative that shooting my way in, which I felt could have been avoided if the disguise system had worked a bit better than it did.
Now the game lets you deal with how you shoot your way in, and I'll applaud that, Shooting only the necessary enemies on your way to a place where you can get a disguise no one else is wearing, then walking past the enemies you just fought off can be fun at times, but the fact that 47 can only take a few bullets kind of stops you from being a walking death machine, and you'll have to rely on cover. I caught myself several times thinking that I wanted to play Hitman, not Uncharted or Gears of War (even though I love those games)
Hitman Absolution isn't everything I expected it to be to say the least, I salute IO interactive for trying something new with the series, but I feel this isn't quite the way this series should go. I'm all for series evolving over time, for instance I love Splinter Cell Conviction despite it being more action heavy than it's predecessors, and I'm excited for Splinter Cell Blacklist, even though they left out my main man Michael Ironside. But what makes Splinter Cell Conviction's new take on the series work is the fact that even though they leave the door open for new players, they don't close the door on their long time fans.
Hitman Absolution offers lot's of cool stuff, but not everything that they've implemented belongs in a Hitman game. The Story was good, but the way the levels were structured ultimatly hurt the game. Levels like Chinatown and Terminus Hotel felt like Classic Hitman, Too bad there were way too few levels like them in the game.
I'll give the game a 7,5.
Feedback on the review would be great, And I still can't get the scaling of the pictures right, any tips?