I have always been a fan of the stealth-geared genre of games, whether it is third-person or first-person, I have a deep fondness of them. When I had originally seen Hitman: Absolution at E3 last year, my excitement grew. To be honest I had never really played the previous installments of the Hitman franchise, only because my stealth crave had been fixed. However, when Hitman: Absolution released, it was up against no competition of the same genre, it stood alone and I wanted to play it more than ever.
I have to say right at the start, the most impressive thing by far in Hitman: Absolution is the technology it was built in: Glacier 2. This technology alone has made this game more than worth it! I have not seen a game –of this genre- that looked, and felt as beautiful as Hitman: Absolution. The very first thing I noticed about this impressive engine is first and foremost was the lighting. The way that the light bounces off of objects, the shadows, and dynamic lighting is just… words cannot describe it. Gorgeous lighting aside, the next impressive thing about this game is simply the amount of things going on at any given time. Most of the time though, there is not a lot going on, but there is this one area that stands out to me; the fighting arena. Without giving any spoilers, this place is packed with maybe around 60-70 independent individual “people” that have their own thing they are doing. Each and every single one of them can be influenced, such as if you shoot one they all scatter or duck down to pretend they are scared. This is a huge step forward in terms of engine design, as there was so much happening, and you can influence 1 or you can influence many to your will.
Since I played this game on the PC, I can only speak about the controls for this platform. While playing on the PC I found it relatively easy, and entertaining to control him with a mouse and keyboard. Normally when I play these types of games, I stick to the consoles because I have a fear of doing bad with a keyboard and mouse. With Hitman: Absolution though, that fear is gone, because the controls feel right. When I say they feel right I really mean it; I cannot tell –mentally- that I am playing it on a PC rather than on a console. Though mouse works fluidly, and all of the important buttons are in a group, allowing for very easy access. I did however move some of my buttons to my mouse, as it just made it easier for me to focus more on movement rather than finding buttons.
One of those buttons is the “Instinct” button; which allows you view AI paths, important locations, objectives or little side things you can do such as Sabotage a electrical system. It also plays a very important role in gameplay, allowing the player to blend in with his/her surroundings –when you have a different outfit on- and make it less likely to be noticed or found. It does also allow you to activate something I personally did not use very often in “Point Shooting”. While it does come in handy in some situations, it is just a need-based per player style type of accessory. You do go through instinct pretty quickly though on easy mode, but the harder difficulties you do not regenerate; so be aware.
You would be rather surprised to learn that Hitman: Absolution has and epic cast of people to do the voice-overs: Jon Gries (Lost), Vivica Fox (Independence Day), Isabelle Fuhrman (Hunger Games), Marsha Thomason (Lost), Powers Boothe (Deadwood), Keith Carradine (Deadwood), Steven Bauer (Scarface), and a few others. That is one thing about Hitman: Absolution, the voice-overs are phenomenal and I truly do mean that; they are fantastic.
One more thing about Hitman: Absolution that I cannot get enough of is the Contacts feature. It allows a player to go into a game mission, select targets, gear, conditions, time, and so much more and share it with your friends. As an example, you go into the mission in the fight club, you pick a person in the middle of the crowd that you have to kill, with a katana, while dressed as an Ice Cream Truck Driver and you cannot be seen by anyone, and you have to hide the body. Does that not sound impossible? Sure it does! This is the beauty of it though, the player creating the contract has to actually DO IT before they can share it with the conditions they want.
So in conclusion, Hitman: Absolution is the perfect stealth game that I have really been longing for. It has everything I wanted: great graphics, great gameplay, and an awesome AI. I say bravo to the team at Square Enix for this masterpiece to revive the stealth genre. It is well worth the money, just for the gameplay alone.