Warning: minor spoilers in the event a reader has not kept up with Absolution videos or developments.
It's been a long and boring six years without our favourite bald assassin, and I am irrevocably thrilled that the next instalment in the Hitman franchise is literally right around the corner. I have to say, Absolution is shaping up to be an unforgettable experience for Hitman fans and casual gamers alike...however, I do have a couple of doubts, some concerns, and a lot of patience. IO Interactive have said for a bit of time now that Absolution will cater to the tastes of everyone, but is that necessarily a good thing? Hitman has always been about choice; whether the player wants to experience the game the way it was designed or go out guns blazing and mow down everyone in sight...but Absolution seems to be more about competing with the common action/shooter instead of leading the troupe of stealth-action titles. Since the first gameplay showcase, there has been some negative muttering about 47's ability to see through walls and sense the predetermined paths of NPCs, which has been compared to Detective Mode in the Arkham games and as far as Survival Instinct in the yet to be released Tomb Raider. While I can understand players' opinions on this feature, one can combat such by giving the reminder that the Purist difficulty mode will revert Absolution back to the older days, with some additional features to give the player a taste of what it really means to be an assassin.
Hitman: Absolution seems to be the most story driven instalment of them all, as right off the bat, we're thrown into a spiral where everything we've once known is changed. Diana Burnwood, 47's handler since the beginning, has a target on her head and 47 is to pull the trigger. It is currently unknown if Absolution will tie into the ending of Blood Money (post-Requiem), but it is known that there's a bit of an emotional drive as 47 is beginning to appear slightly more human now that Diana is out of the picture, and he's carrying out her final wish.
As Diana is under the protection of an unnamed government agency, it is revealed that she found incriminating evidence against the ICA and is now in hiding. As such, the International Contracts Agency declared her a threat and sends 47 to do the job. As 47 accepts Diana's final wish, to find and protect a valuable asset named Victoria, the ICA then deems 47 a traitor and sends their deadliest, all-female assassination squad, The Saints, to end 47's contract.
What has me rubbing my chin and raising an inquisitive eyebrow is one of the trailers and a couple of screenshots that showcase the mission in which 47 goes to the Rosewood Orphanage to find Victoria. In the trailer and in an older screenshot, we see one of the game's antagonists carrying Victoria away. In a recently released screenshot, we see 47 carrying her. Now, the most obvious answer is that 47 kills this antagonist in the mission (which might be anticlimactic, given his implied importance.) The scenario I'm hoping for is that depending on how quickly you complete the mission or depending on the actions you take, perhaps 47 will get to Victoria first; otherwise, should you take too long or take time-costing actions, the antagonist will get to her first. With that being said, should 47 fail to get to her first, there might be a mission in which he needs to go somewhere to get her back (a la Streets of Hope, where it's been said the Hope Cougars gang are affiliated with her kidnapping.) On the other hand, should 47 get to Victoria first, the game might skip that mission, now irrelevant, and continue with the story with Victoria's safety. That would definitely add to the replay value and would be an interesting turn.
Now something I will never be concerned about is the variety in Absolution, whether it be methods of killing, weapons, or ways to complete your assignment. The one thing that's got me interested is different outfits for 47, and I'm not talking about the disguises. Aside from the Best Buy, Wal-Mart, and Amazon preorder bonuses, I've seen some gameplay and screenshots with 47 in outfits that look like they came from his personal wardrobe. One of them is basically his default suit with a raincoat instead, while another looked like his suit without the tie as seen in the Streets of Hope mission. In addition to that, there seems to be quite a plethora of disguises this time around; it seems as though 47 will be able to change into the outfit of any character he's killed...except of course females, naturally. Although who wouldn't want to see 47 in one of the outfits belonging to the Saints assassination squad?
Absolution seems to be shaping up to being the best Hitman title yet...providing that the hype isn't purely talk. We'll see next week if 47 will walk the walk, but I have no doubts when it comes to the brilliance of it. I just hope it hasn't been watered down too much to cater to casual gamers.