Article first published as XBox 360 Review: Hitman: Absolution on Blogcritics.
Earlier this year, at Square Enix’s E3 booth in Los Angeles I watched a playthrough and got some hands hands-on time with Hitman: Absolution. The contrast between the playable Chinatown mission and what they demonstrated in a small town that time seemingly forgot was striking. As disparate as these two locations were, even that didn’t prepare me for the variety of contrasts that Absolution offers. While variety in locations and gameplay are typically lauded, the game seems to have a bit of an identity crisis with a lack of consistency that is often jarring.
Hitman: Absolution begins with Agent 47 being given the assignment of killing his former handler Diana, who has fled the agency with a young girl named Victoria. Appropriately, the beginning of the game serves as a tutorial with flashes of the conflict running through the mind of 47. The sense of emotion the narrative conveys is consistent with the voice work and images on the title screen. As Agent 47 tracks down and corners Diana, her dying pleas and the letter she has prepared for the man she knows would be sent for her, gives the game a serious purpose. There is nothing that indicates the change in tone to come.
What evolves is a story told through the voice of an over the top garish Tarantino-like film that tries to maintain purpose with emotional attachment. You could argue a philosophically existentialist explanation about your purpose being incongruent with your environment or something along those lines but that’s not where video games are. That type of point is easier used for books with less sensory bombardment. The truth is that the game has a tone problem as well as a realism problem with a litany of arbitrary gameplay limitations.
Unlike, Dishonored, the other recently released stealth game Hitman: Absolution has good control scheme and fewer technical problems. As much as Agent 47 can do, for some reason, he can’t jump. For the most part though, Absolution controls like every other third person action game with the analog sticks controlling movement and the camera. The d-pad selects and either wields or sheathes your weapons and items and the face buttons have contextual uses.
In Hitman: Absolution, the left trigger aims and right trigger shoots although, the bumpers are used a little differently. The left bumper is used for running and the right bumper is used for instinct, Agent 47’s stealth mode. The instinct function allows you to see objectives and people in your area. It also allows you to blend in. While in instinct mode, if you press the X button, you can tag visible enemies for lethal shots until the meter is depleted and then execute them when you tap the X button again.
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