First look: Hitman: Absolution (Xbox 360/PlayStation 3)

We play test the latest missions by the bald killer only known as Agent 47

It has been a while since Agent 47 has graced the video game world with his presence. The last game in the series, Hitman: Blood Money, came out in 2006 at the tail end of the previous console generation. Since then, developer IO Interactive has been sidetracked with its new IP, Kane & Lynch: Dead Men, in 2007 and its sequel, Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days, in 2010.

The man in black

The only new addition to the Hitman franchise during that entire time was the Hollywood film based on the game, which came out in 2007 courtesy of 20th Century Fox. No doubt spurred by the strong performance of the film and critical reception, IO Interactive has now decided to revisit its original hit IP after spending five years on Kane & Lynch. Hitman: Absolution marks the first time the series makes it debut on the current consoles.

While Hitman: Blood Money was released on the Xbox 360, it was basically a port of the existing PC version and did not really take advantage of the console’s hardware. With Hitman: Absolution, the game has been built from the ground up for both the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. IO Interactive adopted a rough and grainy visual look for Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days, though the developer has decided to go with a more conventual graphical approach with Hitman: Absolution.

Return to the shadows

This means that Hitman: Absolution is a major graphical leap not only over Hitman: Blood Money, but over any of the Kane & Lynch games. Gameplay should be familiar for Hitman veterans, while those new to the franchise will find the game not too difficult to get into. Like past games, Hitman: Absolution drops the player into a level with a hit to carry out.

But how the hit is carried out is entirely up to the player, so the actual process can be as imaginative or as clear cut as the gamer wants. The added processing power of the two consoles means that IO Interactive has added a lot of minor touches that add to the immersion, such as tweaking the reactions of NPCs and enemies in the levels. One of the most useful additions has been to the AI of police and thugs, which means that it is often not enough just to steal and wear the clothes of their comrades to complete the level.

Version pick

Both the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 version of the game was tested, but there was almost no major difference between the two editions either graphics or sound wise. Choice of what version will boil down to which control pad is more comfortable.

Pros

- A well crafted third person adventure that provides players with an impressive level of freedom.

- Agent 47’s foray into the current console generation is a nice looking one.

- Voice acting is well done, music score is atmospheric, and sound effects are appropriately meaty.

- In addition to the well paced single player campaign, there is a separate Contracts mode which enables player to enjoy the game in many different ways even once it is completed.

Cons

- Steep difficulty curve that often requires the player to make no mistakes to pass the mission.

- The controls are tailored to the slower pace of the game, so players used to the immediate responsiveness of run-and-gun games will have adjust to Agent 47’s controls.

Bottom Line

The return of Agent 47 has been a long time coming, but Hitman: Absolution fortunately delivers in what is the bald assassin’s finest adventure yet.

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Patrick Budmar

Patrick Budmar

PC World
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