Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Preview: Hitman: Absolution (360, PC, PS3)

In terms of bald anti-heroes, the gaming world doesn't get more of those two descriptors than with Agent 47, protagonist of the long-running Hitman series. He returns this November with Absolution.

Because I want to sound educated without doing any heavy research while making stabbing motions toward how the game might conclude, here's a definition of "absolution" as per Google:
Formal release from guilt, obligation, or punishment.
Typically, absolution is also associated with "penance" as defined by Google:
Voluntary self-punishment inflicted as an outward expression of repentance for having done wrong.
So, it can be surmised that Agent 47 will somehow receive absolution for all those murders throughout the series -- some ordered, some not -- probably by a self-inflicted gunshot to his head. And he'll do it very, very quietly in America where Agent 47 "finds himself at the center of a dark conspiracy and must embark on a personal journey through a corrupt and twisted world, [etc.]."

David Bateson returns as the voice of Agent 47. That wasn't always the case but whatever obstacle presented itself to resigning the actor has been resolved. Just as James McCaffrey is Max Payne, Agent 47 with an alien voice is just another bald dude with a gun and a tattooed head.

From what information and video has been released to this point it would appear that the stealth hallmarks of the Hitman games are featured prominently. Possibly more important though is that it would seem that Agent 47 is just as able to shoot his way out rather than disguise himself as a milkman for a lactose-free escape.

One of the attractions of the series is the open-endedness of the action, which was more about the journey than the destination. The destination was typically another dead body but how Agent 47 got there (and back again) was usually entirely up to the player. It truly is one of those series that allows players a free hand at how to solve a problem.

The series has always suffered a little from trial and error when solving those problems. It could mean spending a lot of time getting into the perfect position only to make an small error and fail the objective (i.e. Agent 47 is dead). To blunt this poking and prodding method of advancing toward a goal, Absolution will feature an "instinct mode" along the lines of Splinter Cell: Conviction's "sonar vision" to help Agent 47 avoid patrols or use them to his advantage. How much this will actually help during the course of a mission remains to be seen but I'm predicting that several critics will say instinct mode makes the game "too easy" when it comes to review time.

The wait to start meandering nonchalantly through Agent 47's "corrupt and twisted world" is a short one fortunately. I know that because I'm using instinct mode.

Well, that and I know how to read.

Expected Release: November 20, 2012

- Aaron Simmer