Thursday, 24 January 2013

Hitman: Absolution

A look back at the games i've played in 2012 (and a little spill over into 2013 in this case!) Hitman: Absolution is probably the best game i have played all year.

Okay, the line-up of games isn't too impressive, nothing worthy enough to make my claim of best game of 2012 at all legitimate, but i've played in 2012: FIFA 2013, Madden 2013, Rugby Challenge, F1 Race Stars, Max Payne 3, Assasin's Creed Revelations (yes, its not the latest in the series but i played it for long enough in 2012 to warrant it a 2012 game!), London 2012 (Olympics), Call of Duty MW3, Sleeping Dogs and finally Hitman.
Agent 47

Yes, it's mostly been sports games, but compared with the "non-sports" games Hitman is the standout.

 The thing about Hitman is something that has been missing from so many games lately: a varied and open ended game which gives the player the choice to make his own choices about how he wants to complete the game. The market is perilously overloaded at the moment with games that signpost the trail for you that it's like you're riding on that Ghost Ride at Alton Towers: You sit in your wagon, you can kill as many or as little as you like but in the end you'll follow the pre-determined track to a pre-determined destination.

Agent 47 dressed to Kill (literal) in a sewer workers uniform
Hitman throws that right out the window. As the title suggests, the bulk of the game is spent killing targets. That's about all you're given in terms of objectives, it's then up to you how you do it. The choices are as good as endless. You can choose to use one of (usually three although up to i'm told ten)  signature kills (which are spectacular) which involve for example, stealing a particular disguise, using it to access a particular room in which there is a particular button and pushing said button can kill the target as the button releases the load suspended on a crane onto the target. This of course has to be done stealthy for it to work, doing so will earn you bonuses.

Alternatively, you can go your own way, use your own weapons, objects or scenery to kill the target.

Hitman performing a signature kill:
poisoning the targets lunch of Sushi
The game is heavily based around stealth, although you can shoot your way through missions, you wont be rewarded as heavily at the end of the mission. The game is best played patiently, using your time to scope out targets, evaluate the setting before infiltrating and executing the mission. If you consider each mission like a mini-movie, you can begin to appreciate the games best parts. Of course in a movie, you need to set the scene (which in this case would be familiarizing yourself with the setting) before identifying characters and identifying a plan of action. This is done either through intuition, or in most cases listening in on other characters (baddies) in the game - "hey, can you believe the load on that crane is suspended like that, that could kill someone" - at which point you need to figure out how to use said scenery to kill the target (making it all look like an accident). Then, you must escape the area unseen. Having gone through all this, each mission is indeed like a little movie, which for me made the game more enjoyable.

The paitence aspect builds atmosphere and suspense. If you're spotted and guards get suspicious you must then wait around in a nearby store cupboard and wait for them to pass, or you wait for your target to get into position. All this steady build up results in unsurprisingly, a game with a long shelf life. With many games featuring the wham bam thank you ma'am approach, this is a welcome change.

I saw the game recently on Amazon for less that £20, which while a couple of months out of date, is an absolute steal. There are a number of other mini and online games after you complete the story to enjoy. Buy this game, and by all means thank me when you've completed it.

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