The Good: Amazing visuals, superb voice acting, satisfying signature kills, many varied levels, clever level design, contracts mode expands the campaign
The Bad: So-so story, a lot of bugs and glitches, too much trial and error, punishing scoring system
Hitman is a long running series that is over 10 years old. The series is highly under rated and overlooked, mainly because of the time between each release. The last game (Blood Money) was released back in 2005. Some people actually thought the series was done for until the announcement of Absolution about 18 months ago. You play as a slightly aged Agent 47 while he hunts down men involved in kidnapping a very important girl to the Agency. The story isn't all that interesting, and is slow going, but the characters are great and the voice acting is superb. Of course the best thing about this game are the signature kills and stealth.
The levels are pretty linear, but 47 now has an instinct ability that will highlight important objects in yellow when they are nearby, and will be flashing beacons at a distance. These range from weapons to distractions. Some levels will have hits that you have to complete, but the challenge isn't just running around shooting everybody, sure you can, but what is the fun in that? Absolution has a very punishing scoring system, even if you kill one target that isn't your hit you will get a score drop, not much, but enough to keep you from getting the ultimate Silent Assassin score. You can knock out enemies and hide them to regain the negative score back as well. The levels are cleverly designed and each one is completely different. It is really fun to sneak around trying to find ingenious ways to kill your hit, which is usually to make it look like an accident.
If you just can't find one you can use your signature fiber wire to get the same score, but it isn't as fun. This is the biggest issue with Absolution though, you get punished for not being stealthy, but the game has a large arsenal of weapons of all kinds. Sure you can run and gun for fun, but I honestly felt they should have just stuck with stealth and left the other weapons out. There are very few times where you need to use a gun, but those are usually silenced. The other huge problem is trial and error. Some levels had to be restarted over a dozen times because I just couldn't find a path through a bunch of enemies or find a signature kill. I eventually found one, and there are checkpoints spread throughout the levels, but it is really tough. You can use disguises from enemies you subdue or find. The instinct indicators will tell you if someone is about to see through your disguise so you use instinct to kind of blend in. This uses a special instinct meter, but can be upgraded over time.
Some levels require multiple hits which can be really tough. The whole point is to distract guards or find quicker ways to your target via vents, ledges, ladders, and other hallways. Most levels are pretty easy to figure out, but there is that one you will restart over a dozen times. This really made the game feel frustrating at times because you will have no idea what to do in the first level. I was completely lost and didn't know how to kill the targets. You can poison food, make things drop on enemies, or there are level specific things that can happen. Some times you can blend in with the crowd, other times disguises may not be available. Thanks to the large variety in levels and hits you will never get bored. There is also a contracts mode which expands the single player campaign as well as the ability to out score other players.
Multiplayer lets you create your own contracts, but most people won't spend too much time here. The PC visuals are astounding with beautiful DirectX 11 visuals, but you will need a rig with the latest hardware to run it in this mode. The textures look nearly realistic and there is some gorgeous lighting and shadowing in this game. They are a huge step up over the consoles which really show their age. Overall, Absolution is an amazing stealth game with a lot of variety and satisfying signature kills. I jut wish the trial and error wasn't so high.