COLUMN: Aaron’s Backstage Pass: Hitman Absolution Review

Updated: 11/27/2012 11:21 AM KSTP.com By: Aaron Chalich

Square Enix’s “Hitman: Absolution” just blew me away. I want to start out by saying that this is one of the best games I have played this year. I know that this is a strong statement, but I feel that it is true for a number of reasons.

A few weeks ago I received an early review copy of “Hitman: Absolution” for the PS3. I have played the other Hitman games and I really enjoyed them a lot, but not as a much as this one. 

People may disagree with me, but that’s OK. This game is awesome.

Your character is Agent 47, who is the world’s ultimate assassin. You are betrayed by the people that you trusted and you are being hunted by the police. You are in the middle of a dark conspiracy and you go on one of your most dangerous missions yet. 

I thought that the story was excellent. I am not going to spoil anything because, there are so many surprises. The story is very dark and very violent. This game is not for kids and it is rated M for a reason.  

There is a lot of swearing and graphic violence in the game.

The graphics are amazing and very detailed. It is a very dark game and the graphic designers really used shadows and did a great job with the lighting. You rely on dark areas a lot in Hitman to hide from enemies so you are not seen and there are tons of them in the game. 

One huge thing I noticed was that there was no lag or slowdown from anything and the gameplay was very smooth. In the second level you are in Chinatown and you have to take out the “King of Chinatown.”

You have to move through a very crowded market area and there are hundreds of people on the screen at once.  They are all doing their own unique thing and not one time did the game stop, freeze or slow down.  I thought that was very impressive. 

Hitman: Absolution uses Glacier 2 technology. This new and more powerful engine can give game designers more control of the look of the game. That is why they can have over 500 people on the screen at once doing different things.

When you start out “Hitman: Absolution, you can choose from easy, normal, hard, expert or purist. By choosing one of the difficulties really changes the game for the player. For instance if you choose purist, which is the hardest difficulty, you will get no help, no guides, no interface and only a cross hair. 

I am not an advanced Hitman player so I chose normal and that was perfect for me. There were some hints and the enemies reacted to situations normally. Plus there were check points where I could save the game.

The controls for the game were really good and just like every game I have played lately, it has an in game tutorial that was very helpful. I did not have any problems learning the controls of the game and I don’t think other people will have a problem.

The thing that makes “Hitman: Absolution” so great is that every time you play the game you can do something different. For instance when you play a level, you can play it in stealth mode. You can sneak up behind people and knock them out and hide their body in a dumpster or locker. You can go back and play the same level and just shoot everybody and not care about being not seen. 

When you do a hit, you can just go up to the target and shoot them and hide until things calm down, or you can take them out by using a sniper rifle from far away, or you can do something clever like drug their food and make it look like an accident.

There are so many different ways you can play each level and there are different tasks for each level as well. There is a challenge called “chameleon” where if you disguise yourself by wearing a certain amount of different outfits in a level you gain this. You can also complete a challenge if you kill the target a certain way.

I really like this and think that this makes play “Hitman: Absolution a lot of fun. The game does not get boring.

One new thing that you can do in “Hitman: Absolution” is use an instinct mode. There is a meter and when you need help in the game you can access this and you will see where the police or enemies are. You can see where items that you need are or you can use it to help defuse a situation.

There is a very dark sense of humor in “Hitman: Absolution.” It’s all over the game and I thought it was very clever. In one instance you are climbing on a building and you go by a window.

There is a thug on the phone with his doctor and he just finds out that he does not have cancer and he keeps saying that now he has all the time in the world to do things and he goes on and on. 

Just as he hangs the phone up you grab him and throw him out the window to gain access to the area you need to go. The game is filled with things like that.

I got the chance to play an online game called “Contracts.” In this online game you can create your own hits and then challenge your friends.  You do this by entering a checkpoint and then you mark your targets, make your kills and then escape the level. 

Then you can challenge your friends or other people to do this hit and see if they can do it as fast as or better than you did. This was really a lot of fun to play. The game came with a bunch of pre-set contracts that were created by the game developers and they were also fun and challenging to play.

“Hitman: Absolutions” has a ton of celebrities doing the voices of the characters such as:

Like I said earlier, I really liked Square Enix’s “Hitman: Absolutions” a lot and I think it is one of the best games I’ve played this year. The graphics and story were amazing. I really liked the dark humor and thought the controls of the game were very easy to learn. 

I really liked how the game never got boring because you could play each level differently every time you played it. I think that people who are a fan of the Hitman series or are looking for a game that is challenging and unique will really enjoy this game a lot.

“The copy was provided by Square Enix for review purposes”

Aaron Chalich is a columnist for KSTP.com blogging about the latest entertainment news.