Agent 47 is a funny old chap. Cloned from the DNA of five of the world's most evil men and trained to kill, he finds his living by doing just that. An Assassin for hire of the highest order, he works for the International Contract Agency (ICA) all over the world, killing anybody for anybody, for a price. 47 is usually given his contracts by his handler, Diana Burnwood, who he only speaks to over the phone.
However, recently Diana has gone rogue, shutting down the Agency systems and stealing a valuable piece of property. Now, the Agency has located Diana's hiding place and its new head, Benjamin Travis, has given 47 the job of killing her and retrieving the stolen property, which turns out to be a little girl by the name of Victoria.
So starts your adventure in Hitman: Absolution
. If you've already read my preview from October
then you'll know the rough gist of the changes that have been made to the formula last seen in 2006's Hitman: Blood Money
. If not you may wish to pop over there for a quick refresher course before continuing.
The big issue I had with the preview build was the prevalence of "challenge room" type areas where you have to navigate from one side to the other without being spotted by very vigilant police officers. These areas are still there, but actually come mostly to an end where the preview finished.
That's not to say there aren't infiltration sections later on in the game, this has always been part of the Hitman
formula, but they are much more fair than those I played in the preview. For example, there's a much wider spread of disguises in the later areas, enabling you to walk past a lot of people without raising suspicion.
You see, the disguise mechanic has been tweaked in Absolution
so that only people dressed the same as you will find your disguise suspicious. Policemen know other policemen and will spot an unfamiliar face, or so the theory goes. Find a disguise that nobody else in the level is wearing and you can walk almost anywhere you like.
All of this feeds into the AI, which is really very good. Characters react more or less as you would expect them to, even if some of them are very myopic or focused on their own little tasks. Sound plays a big part, too. I was stuck repeating a particular section of a later level until I realised that I had time to move more slowly than I had been trying and therefore could make less noise and slip past the guards who had caught me a few times before.
Of course, as with most things in Hitman
games, sound can be made to work for you. You are able to distract guards and move them out of your path by diverting their attention. The throw a coin mechanic has been updated to enable you to also throw things like bottles, tools or even knives, all of which you can find lying around the levels.
As with the previous games, the ways you can kill your targets are many and varied. From breaking their necks to sniping them from half the level away and everything in between. Accidents make a welcome return so you'll be pushing people over parapets and dropping crane loads of bricks on them. And that's to say nothing of the poisoner's arts.