The art of murder in ‘Hitman: Absolution’

Daniel Woodhouse

On the outset of another adventure with my favorite contact killer, Agent 47, I must confess: I was concerned the Hitman series might be going too far in an action-oriented direction. A trailer for Hitman: Absolution depicted Agent 47 dispatching a group of heavily armed female assassins dressed as nuns.

Fortunately my preconceptions were proven wrong, and another successful entry in the Hitman series has been made.

Picking up almost immediately after Blood Money, we find Agent 47 on the run from employers after he is ordered to kill his former handler, Diana, which he does, but he then refuses to bring them a mysterious girl that was in Diana’s care. Agent 47 must now uncover the secrets as to why this girl is so important to his employers.

Hitman seems to have taken a more story-focused approach than in previous installments. Unlike before — when you were given a simple briefing of your target and dropped in a different location — the story has a linear progression in with each area and target connect and add up to a very tight narrative.

The characters are well written and colorful in the usual Hitman style, even though at times they seem deliberately exaggerated and clichéd. Like, for example, the Texan character that wears a cowboy outfit and has to end most of his sentences with “Yeha!”.

The best character in this game is the protagonist, Agent 47. I place him in my top 10 of the best video game characters ever created. He’s a complex character: On the surface he’s a cold, stoic, sociopath who could put a bullet between your eyes while he’s drinking a cup of coffee; deep down, he can’t seem to find his own place in the world, having been literally bred and raised to be the perfect killer. Though mostly a hollow emotionless shell, he will occasionally crack a smile.

The mark of Agent 47, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

As for the gameplay of Hitman: Absolution, though some levels aren’t as open and sprawling as they were in Blood Money, the classic Hitman style has been retained and there are dozens of different ways to complete the levels. Which will you choose: hiding in boxes and closets, picking off enemies with your silenced pistol, grabbing a disguise and sneaking past guards in plain sight, or will you use the iconic Fiber Wire to strangle your foes and drag them to the nearest dumpster?

Several new features have been added that improved the gameplay. A new sound effects element allows the player to throw objects to distract guards — but if you sprint away they will hear the pitter-patter of your feet and investigate.

A new vision mode has been created, called Instinct. Similar to the vision mode in Batman: Arkham City, the player can see through walls to find guards and perform actions that allow you to hide in plain sight while in disguise. The Hitman games have always been challenging and this one is no different; you have a limited supply of Instinct and guards can now see through your disguise if you get too close.

Hitman: Absolution is not for the faint at heart (as the trailer should have alluded to), but if you’ve stuck with the series through the years, the newest release will keep your support.