Hitman: Absolution

aka: Hitman: Rozgrzeszenie
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Description official descriptions

Hitman: Absolution is the fifth game in the stealth assassin series starring Agent 47 as the protagonist. The story continues after the events of the previous game, Hitman: Blood Money. Diana Burnwood, Agent 47's handler with the International Contract Agency, goes rogue and sets up a sabotage operation that risks exposing the entire agency. Benjamin Travis reforms the agency and puts a hit on Burnwood, tasking Agent 47 to kill her and bring back the teenage girl Victoria that is in her care. Early on in the game he tracks down Diana, but hesitates when he has the opportunity to kill her. From there, the story unfolds into a larger conspiracy that puts the girl Victoria in the center. Compared to the previous game, 47 now often has an emotional bond with the victims and he becomes hunted himself as well.

Rather than independent missions, they are now linked together with sections where 47 travels from one location to another. The basic gameplay is still present. He often has to infiltrate locations to take out a specific target and disappear again. Points are scored by completing primary and secondary objectives, along with the chosen method. Choosing a careful approach based on stealth and non-lethal kills is always rewarded more. After missions a ranking is shown and it is compared to players worldwide. In addition there are separate challenges to complete, such as using a certain amount of different weapons or disguises. Points are used to access upgrades that enhance Agent 47's skills, such as less visibility when hiding, more accuracy when shooting, less time to strangle opponents or faster melee combat. When the operation goes wrong, full out shooting is also possible, but will not lead to the best reward.

The core gameplay is still based around looking for cover, taking out and dragging people out of sight, and some acrobatic maneuvers. Certain parts of the environment can be used to jump or to hang on a ledge, but not everything. A feature called Instinct shows whether a certain part can be used or not. Instinct is gathered through actions in the game. It can also be used to activate Point Shooting. This mechanic allows Agent 47 to stop time, mark the opponents, and then continue to fire and kill quickly in succession. Another Instinct feature is the ability to look through walls to see the location of enemies and their movement pattern. A further use is bluff. When wearing a disguise, certain characters may still recognize him, especially when he gets too close. In those situations a bluff can be made as a last resort that eats up a lot of Instinct. Agent 47 will then make a move that throws them off so they lose their suspicion.

His main weapon is the signature Silverballer pistol with a silencer. Two of them can be equipped and used together. Weapons left behind by enemies can also be picked up and used. In addition there is room for gadgets such as a piano string, but also items found in the environment such as bottles, bricks, hammers, knives etc. They are used to kill or can be thrown to create a distraction. As enemies often patrol in groups, they need to be isolated and their movement needs to be studied. Strangled enemies can either be killed or just be rendered unconscious. To avoid alarms, they always need to be hidden, out of sight.

Next to the main mission, Contracts can be completed as an asynchronous multiplayer mode. These are custom tasks created by the developer or other players. Anyone can mark a specific target in a level and determine how he ought to be killed, based on a certain weapon or disguise for instance. These challenges can then be taken on by other players. Up to three victims can be assigned to a single Contract.

Spellings

  • ヒットマン アブソリューション - Japanese spelling

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Credits (Windows version)

1,041 People (840 developers, 201 thanks) · View all

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[ full credits ]

Reviews

Critics

Average score: 77% (based on 71 ratings)

Players

Average score: 3.8 out of 5 (based on 45 ratings with 1 reviews)

Hitman: Arkham Asylum

The Good
There are a few things worth mentioning…

For starters, Absolution sports an impressive new engine – the Glacier 2. Also, the controls are much improved over past entries, with a very comfortable layout. No complaints in either department.

A cover system has been included.

The firearms are fun to utilize, and they feel very much like lethal instruments. Overall, there are plenty of weapons, outfits and skills to unlock, including swift hand-to-hand takedowns.

The voice acting is solid.

Absolution’s online component – “Contracts” mode – is ultimately the bread and butter of the entire package, tempting players to bask in the creation of their own custom hits (stipulating the target, the method of execution, the costume worn etc.). These hits can be shared with the international community. You may also choose to complete contracts that other players have created and in doing so you will be rewarded with payment. The money you accumulate can later be spent towards the purchase of guns and outfits. This mode is very competitive and great fun (for a while, at least).

You can stalk victims in a cornfield…while dressed as an ice cream man. It is quite amusing.

And lastly, this game is noticeably more violent than its forerunners. I must admit, it is very satisfying to throw a kitchen knife into the backside of some unsuspecting clod’s skull…and then proceed to destroy his friend’s face with the nearest brick or liquor bottle. Any action involving a sharp utensil and a neck is played out to suitably wince-inducing effect. In a stroke of brilliance, Agent 47 can now use his trusty fiber wire to aid in the transportation of freshly strangled persons.

Sadly, all of this is wasted potential…

The Bad
And this is where the actual review begins.

Absolution weaves a noisome, unbecoming black hole of a story that significantly worsens with each new chapter. It is an experience I can only liken to that of watching a close friend waste away with terminal brain cancer. It is so perplexingly ill-conceived, so dreadful that it should come with a disclaimer. In a nutshell, 47 is compelled to rescue a teenage girl named Victoria from the clutches of billionaire arms manufacturer Blake Dexter. That sounds familiar. I recall having taken on a similar assignment some ten years prior…some business about a kidnapped priest and a Russian crime lord. I also distinctly remember Mr. 47 leaving his faith behind (because a life of asceticism and one of cold-blooded murder are two quite irreconcilable paths)…and yet I now see that he’s working for an orphanage, donning religious garb and bludgeoning people to death with bibles. So much for character development.

I could go into further detail (such as how Victoria was biologically engineered for combat applications and must wear a special isotope necklace, lest she fall into a vegetative state), but why bother? The plot – set almost entirely in Illinois and South Dakota, condemning an international man of mystery to suffer the indignities of sleuthing about derelict structures and backwater shooting ranges – is a convoluted train wreck, utterly devoid of impetus and poignancy. It has all the subtlety and sophistication of a Saturday morning cartoon, replete with grotesque, hyper-exaggerated villains of the sort one would expect to find in a comic book. You’ll face-off against corrupt sheriffs and psychotic, dick obsessed henchmen in mandatory quick shooting duels. You will kill fetishistic, leather clad female assassins in Polynesian-themed motel courtyards. You’ll sneak past divisions of ridiculously outfitted troopers who look less like intimidating ICA elites and more as though they stepped off the pages of a G. I. Joe catalog. You will pummel hulking, genetically modified Danny Trejo look-a-likes who are otherwise impervious to garroting and treat high powered rifle rounds as if they were inconvenient mosquito bites.

Pre-rendered cinematics with Tarantinoesque B-movie trimmings abound in this tasteless carnival of despair.

Dexter himself is the quintessential mustache villain. He wears a loud country western costume and has yellow teeth. He also oversees child medical experiments, for whatever reason. His motives are never sufficiently explained. What could this tycoon of such considerable influence possibly stand to gain from Victoria’s possession? And why would he want to frequent a deteriorating dive such as the Terminus Hotel when he owns a luxurious penthouse within relatively short driving distance? At some point, perhaps between brawling my way through a bar beset by drunken patrons and infiltrating the bowels of a county jail while wearing a tin foil hat, I just had to force myself to accept the likelihood that the people at Io Interactive have developed a serious drug addiction as of late.

Or maybe they simply didn’t care. Regardless, Absolution’s bloated, masturbatory narrative reads like a seventh grader’s fan fiction if it were buried under a compost heap of terrible ideas and left to suffocate a slow, painful demise. It serves as little more than a vehicle for transporting the beleaguered player from one painfully restrictive area to another – small stealth arenas mostly consisting of dirty alleyways and linear, claustrophobic corridors.

These stages are a far cry from the sweeping, multilayered killing grounds of yesteryear. No longer will you be traveling to exotic, extant locales. No more thermal baths, surgery wards, kinky corporate parties or cocaine filled retreats. Here, an environment the size of Lee Hong’s Restaurant from Codename 47 would be segmented into multiple filler levels reminiscent of the two missions that preceded “Shogun Showdown” in Silent Assassin. That is to say, there are now precious few missions in which assassination is a parameter…targets are few and far between.

But it gets worse. Thanks to magic suit pockets you can now holster any gun within your possession, no matter how large, and the potential for their modification has been significantly reduced. In Contracts mode, you can only import one firearm per session. There is no load out selection for single player levels. And while there’s an abundance of random objects to be wielded (statue busts, severed electrical cables, measuring tape, scissors, bongs, screwdrivers, hatchets, etc.) many of the attack animations for these improvised melee weapons are recycled, predictable and unimaginative. For example, there is little distinction between how the office spike and knifes are put to use. (How a plunger could possibly do what it does to a person as depicted in this game escapes me.) Human shields can no longer be pushed to the floor and tormented as in Blood Money. Poison and sedative injections have been completely removed, and although you can now choke out NPCs, those that are rendered unconscious cannot be revived. Also, you no longer have to worry about drag marks when disposing of bodies. There are none.

Tension is at an all-time low. Puzzle difficulty is almost nonexistent…

And for that matter, so is replay value.

Console limitations or no, none of the above constitutes an evolution for the Hitman series. This is all a drastic, jarring reversal. I would dare call this laziness. Case in point, an entire chapter is devoted to the purchase of a suit.

One mission has you moving amongst a dense population of tourists in a market on Chinese New Year, pitting you against three very inept assassins in a game of cat and mouse. It is an exercise made tedious by fundamentally broken design. Scattered about there are a handful of food vendors, and since your aforementioned rivals will be expecting a bald man dressed in black, one might logically assume that a change of identity would be most beneficial. Realistically, regardless of whether or not they are distracted with their culinary responsibilities, said chefs should be unable to spot a lone imposter – from thirty feet away, mind you – lurking within a crowd of over a hundred people. But because the map size is so constrictive, and because the artificial intelligence is so unnatural in its behavior, disguising yourself will only complicate the situation; there are numerous police officers present, not to mention a riot team waiting on standby for if you should cause enough of a ruckus.

As such, sneaking from cover-to-cover becomes necessary, routine and a chore. Indeed, the majority of these levels were structured after Batman: Arkham Asylum, but such a model is wholly unbefitting for this franchise.

In attempting to remedy its social stealth maladies, Absolution presents the player with two solutions…both of which defy basic common sense. One, you can make use of interactive hot spots that instantly absolve you of any suspicion. Two, you can expend “Instinct”, a limited resource that allows for you to hide your face via the palm of your hand. Instinct also grants players the supernatural ability to sense targets through brick and mortar. (You’d think a world-renowned contract killer like 47 would have thought by now to alter his appearance with wigs and facial prosthetics. Apparently the developers didn’t either…) The problem with Instinct is that, despite often being such a critical tool for remaining undetected, points for this feature are incredibly scarce when playing on the highest difficulty – the erroneously named “Purist” setting. Thus a frustrating contradiction is created for those seeking to earn the coveted “Silent Assassin” rating.

A new composer has been brought on board to fill in for Jesper Kyd, and he certainly does have some large shoes to fill. Although the soundtrack is passable, it is nevertheless a typical by the numbers score, and largely unremarkable. It simply cannot hold a candle to past arrangements.

On a final note, with companies such as Quantic Dream helping to remove the stigma that videogames cannot be allowed to display accurate depictions of human anatomy and sexuality, I’m quite put off with what Io Interactive has done here regarding their treatment of nudity and sadomasochism. I’m a grown man, and I do happen to value consistency in my entertainment. This is a “Mature” rated title. It features R-rated language as well as considerable carnage…

And yet the creators are too repressed, too cowardly to give us a strip club in which female dancers fully expose their breasts. How subversive! So you threw in a skin bar…why, exactly? Just couldn’t do without one?

I won’t even touch upon the fetish stereotypes.


The Bottom Line
Six years was a long time to wait for what amounts to a progeny of apathy and inhalant abuse. Hitman: Absolution is a gaudy, imbecilic, regressive sequel that revels in its own adolescent tendencies and total lack of concern with a contemptible smugness – inexorably determined to alienate its core audience and perniciously doing for its predecessors what Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull did for its respective franchise. Newcomers unfamiliar with 47’s roots may feel this game is undeserving of such diatribe. But as a longtime fan, Hitman: Absolution left me feeling absolutely numb, nauseated and depressed. That it contains a few interesting elements in no way excuses it for being an abysmal successor and an unabashedly soulless product of market research. Two weeks in its odious presence was all I could stomach, after which I promptly banished it from my household.

At the time of this writing, there has still yet to emerge an authentic clone to compete with this now wayward series…making its spiraling descent into the septic tank all the more painful to witness.

Agent 47 and his legion of loyal followers deserved far better than this self-indulgent turd.

PlayStation 3 · by Colonel Kurtz (4) · 2013

Trivia

Awards

  • GameStar (Germany) / GamePro (Germany)
    • 2012 - #4 Best Action Game of the Year (Readers' Vote)
    • 2012 - #8 Best Console Game of the Year (Readers' Vote)
    • 2012 - #9 Best PC Game of the Year (Readers' Vote)
  • PC Games (Germany)
    • Issue 01/2013 – #3 Game of the Year 2012 (together with Diablo III)
    • Issue 01/2013 – #3 Action Game of the Year 2012 (Readers' Vote)

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Hitman: Blood Money
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Hitman: Codename 47
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Hitman: Absolution - Outfit Edition
Released 2012 on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3
Hitman: Absolution - Complete Edition
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Hitman: Absolution (Professional Edition)
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Game added by Sciere.

Additional contributors: Fred VT, Patrick Bregger, Pottero.

Game added December 25th, 2012. Last modified September 13th, 2023.