So the same friend that allowed me to play Titanfall allowed me to play his free download of Hitman Absolution. I had never played a Hitman game before, but I have been playing a number of stealth action games. The Last of Us, Metal Gear HD games, etc. I thought I would take a crack at this series.
The story was entertaining enough. You play as Agent 47, a notoriously bald professional killer who has been contracted to kill someone who has defected from the agency (known as The Agency) for unknown reasons. She is a former mentor and 47 approaches her without remorse. The plot then spirals into a giant escort mission with a fourteen year old girl who is genetically altered and has the potential to be an even better killer than 47. The rest of the characters can be very wacky, so it's hard to tell if the story is meant to be taken seriously.
The graphics are not too bad. The lighting and weather effects are decent, but the character animation is a little stiff. Uncanny valley is all over this game. 47 himself looks fine, but a lot of the villain characters look very strange and the camera enjoys giving you ugly closeups of them during cutscenes. Overall, for a 360 game the graphics are actually pretty decent.
The sound design is very good. The music and sound effects are very impactful and are cleverly played during contextual events that make the game feel a lot more dynamic. I was especially impressed by all of the voice acting. The actors sounded professional and gave a wacky, but quality performance.
The gameplay is decent. Stealth mechanics work well for the most part. Enemy soldiers need to see you for a second or two before they set the alarm, giving the player a fairer time exploring the levels. The game is fairly linear, but certain areas allow you to approach your kills from a variety of angles and use different tactics. You can shoot them up or you can kill discreetly. You can poison victims or you can blow them up. The game does not force the player's hand too much. However the game will grade you on your actions and you lose points for every time you are spotted or you kill a non-target. Normally succeeding in your mission will be more than enough to make up for the point loss you may suffer though. There's a useful disguise mechanic that lets you wear a new outfit so you can blend in with enemies. You can use "instinct" to further blend in, but this is finite and will only work for so long. The boss characters are often very disappointing. They don't require much more to kill than any other character in the game. Using your slow motion kill mechanic is normally enough to take them out easily. One thing I appreciated is the game will allow you to fight back with heavy gunfire if you are spotted. You will most likely not survive, but the game does give you a chance to fight back and hide, which I think is a good way to keep newer players from getting discouraged. Unfortunately there is a difficulty hike at some point: I got stuck in one part where I needed to disguise myself as a fighter and I just could not figure out how to approach it without dying a multitude of times and it felt unfair. The difficulty drops after that.
Overall the game was fun to play. I won't say it is perfect, but it's a fun little game for stealth fans. I'm not sure how it compares to other Hitman games, but I found this experience enjoyable.