rAge 2012: Hitman: Absolution Impressions
It’s widely known across the eGamer circle that I am obsessed with the Hitman series. The rest of these fine writers didn’t even have to guess twice to know that they’d find me at the Hitman booth at rAge, and that’s exactly where I was. At the booth of my most anticipated game for this year. After feeling that 2006’s Hitman: Blood Money, one of my favourite games of all time, was the pinnacle of the series, I’ve been waiting years for the next game to come, but it never did. It was always there, but it wasn’t. As stealthy as Agent 47 himself you could say. I’m sure you can imagine my excitement when I finally got to play Sniper Challenge earlier this year, and after now experiencing a taste of the game itself.
At rAge this year we were treated to the E3 demo of Hitman: Absolution, so it’s very much the first demo of the game and as such it had a few bugs and niggles. Some were hilarious, such as the time I attempted to place a second body into a closet only to see Agent 47 do the entire animation all the while holding nothing but air, while the body remained on the floor. And once the animation was complete, I couldn’t move the physical body into the closet, but I could drag it. Weird. Never mind that though, it’s hardly important, because the actual level of Chinatown is a serious blast to play through.
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From the moment I fired up the demo I was impressed, because Hitman: Absolution certainly does the series great justice with its dynamic world and lively crowds. There’s a fantastic flow and feel to the world, and it’s amazing to just walk through the level, exploring and watching everything happen around you without you doing anything. Hitman puts the power in your hands, and Absolution gets this feeling back completely. You can easily become the center of attention if you make a bad move, or you could just as easily cause a panic or start making people suspicious and uneasy. However, the new security system is awesome, and a big improvement over what was there before. Rather than have one alert blow your cover across the level, making it difficult to reduce your alert meter, Absolution works more realistically. If you get an alert, the word will slowly spread across the level with a sort of ripple effect, and in that time you can duck out of sight and get away before things get too uncomfortable. However, your disguise will be what they’re on the lookout for, so you’ll need to change it to stay incognito.
The Chinatown level doesn’t just demonstrate how dynamic the world is, but also shows off how much interactivity there is. There are objects and places of interest literally at every turn, and the levels are densely packed with all sorts of interesting things just the way a Hitman game should be. The new Instinct mode surprisingly doesn’t feel like a cheat sheet, and it certainly won’t on the harder difficulties, as it’s not something you’ll just keep on the entire time like Batman: Arkham Asylum’s or Arkham City’s detective mode. It has to be used sparingly, and you’ll toggle it for short amounts of time to see your target and surroundings. It adds a lot more flow to the game, but only the full game will tell us whether it’s a good or bad thing. The one level definitely made it feel great to use, and not at all unfair.
It takes a bit of time to get used to the controls on an actual controller rather than a keyboard, but it works just right after a few minutes of playing and it’s a very comfortable experience to have. The shooting mechanics are very much improved, and you can now more accurately pull off those headshots if you’re looking for a quick kill. The demo level didn’t allow me to select my loadout before playing, so I only really had access to the classic Silver Ballers and famous Fiber Wire. I certainly missed my remote mines and syringes, but on the upside the level itself was packed with some interesting tools including weapons like a bolt action Sniper Rifle and traditional hazards.
I walked away extremely impressed and happy with Hitman: Absolution, and a lot of my excitement was because it felt like one of my favourite games had returned in all of its glory. I wish I could have really taken my time with the level, but unfortunately I couldn’t hog the console for too long, so after a while of slow walking it I eventually just lost my head and went on a rampage for the heck of it so some other poor sod could get a turn with the game. I had a great time playing it, and the only negative thing I have to say is about two other gamers who sort of subtly insulted me when they played it. One of them was an Asian who had no concept of stealth whatsoever and simply played the game like a cover shooter, killing everything and everyone while myself, Caveshen and AG stood in mute horror as Hitman: Absolution was bastardised. The guilty Asian calmly put down his controller at the end after he died, looked straight at us and said “It’s cool game”, before walking off, leaving his score of negative 80,000 staring us in the face. Behind us, a little kid did something similar, except his devastating experience earned him a score of negative 190,000 which made us question whether there is hope in this world.
Damn Call of Duty players.
Hitman: Absolution is fantastic though, and I simply can’t wait to play it next month.