All of this sounds great, but the game is not without its faults. The aforementioned challenge rooms are issue. Another for me is the concentration on the story, to the detriment of the character of 47.
Agent 47 is supposed to be the most skilled assassin in the world and in your hands he can be. However, to drive the story forward he makes mistakes in the cut scenes that would leave him dead in the game. Twice the main bad guy has 47 in his power and fails to kill him because, umm, he doesn't want to, or something. It's not even as if he doesn't know who 47 is, he recognises him the instant he lays eyes on him.
However, the biggest issue is the structure of the levels. Previous games have had the whole level available to you all in one go. In Absolution
, they're broken up into smaller segments. This wouldn't be too bad if you could go back, but you can't. Once you move on through an area exit you can't return to get another disguise, weapon or distracting item.
So if you're in a disguise that won't help you in the next area, you're stuck with it. If your cover from the previous area has been blown, it's still blown in the next one. These two rules are what make the challenge room structure so infuriating to cope with.
For example, in one level I was disguised as a store clerk and had to get through a store to get to the next area. Obviously, the other store clerks were suspicious of me and on the first play-through my cover was blown. Then the next three areas were populated by police, on alert and my disguise wouldn't work and I couldn't go back. The next time I played the level I remained un-spotted and just walked through the next areas, under the noses of the police.
These situations happened in the previous games, but you could always back off and get another disguise, or take a different route. The level structure in Absolution
actively prevents that approach. That said, if you're playing for the Silent Assassin rating and trying to complete the Suit Only challenge in each level, then the issues above won't affect you as much since you're not going to be in disguise at any time anyway.
All of these words and I haven't even mentioned Instinct or Contract mode.
Instinct has two sides to it, Instinct Vision and Instinct Abilities. Instinct Vision is the simplest to explain, it's like Eagle Sense or Detective Vision. You are supposed to be calling on 47's training, experience and instincts to show you where people are, where they are going and what objects or locations are useful. It takes the place of the level maps from previous games and is one of your most useful tools to help you sneak around.
The Instinct Abilities are another kettle of fish and make use of your Instinct meter, which is topped up by completing level objectives or challenges. The first ability is a method of blending that involves putting your hand over your face and is used to get past characters dressed the same as you without raising their suspicions. I'm in two minds about this - it's useful, but can easily be triggered without you meaning to since it uses the same button as Instinct Vision.
You see, pressing RB (in the case of the 360 version I played) will always
fire up your Instinct Vision. If you press it while someone nearby is suspicious of you, though, you then the game will cover up your face whether you wanted to or not.
So, check on the position of a guard in another room with Instinct Vision while the one in this
room is starting to get suspicious and you're burning up your Instinct meter. Move back two paces where he can't see you and you're OK to use Vision. Also, time moves more slowly when you use Vision, so you're burning up Instinct more than you would if Blending was its own function.