Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large
The ruthless Agent 47 turns his back on the Agency in the grittier, more melodramatic Hitman: Absolution. Courtesy Square Enix
The ruthless Agent 47 turns his back on the Agency in the grittier, more melodramatic Hitman: Absolution. Courtesy Square Enix

Agent 47 goes rogue in Hitman: Absolution

Hitman: Absolution has you searching for - surprise! - a handler who has gone rogue.

Hitman: Absolution
Square Enix
PS3, Xbox360, PC
***

This month could go down as the bloodiest in gaming history. With Halo 4, Assassin's Creed 3, Medal of Honour: Warfighter and Call of Duty: Blcak Ops 2, to name just a few, we've had alien, American Revolutionary War, Al Qaeda-linked jihad movement and future international terrorist slaughter on a scale never seen before.

Just when you thought you'd seen enough on-screen death, in comes Hitman: Absolution, which even newcomers to the franchise are likely to realise isn't a theme park simulation.

Like the month's other major launches, Absolution is the latest addition in a long-running series, the fifth since IO Interactive first introduced the genetically enhanced, folically challenged master of stealth, Agent 47, in 2000 and five years since his last shindig. The story picks up from there, with players assigned by the Agency to eliminate the handler who "went rogue" in the last episode.

Within minutes, you're scouring the outside of a sun-soaked villa in which your target is contained, subduing gardeners, hiding bodies in bins and sneaking past security guards while in disguise. As per previous Hitmans, there's always the urge to break out into all-out gun battles, but the satisfaction - and points - come when you adopt the sneaky-sneaky route; crouching, using your "instinct" and striking at the right moment with the right weapon.

Sadly, the new story into which you're thrust is where the game loses its way. Agent 47's previous role had been that of a ruthless, shadowy figure able to ghost into rooms, do the necessary and disappear. But in Absolution he turns his back on the Agency and is tasked with saving a girl from the clutches of his former employer. It's a narrative that doesn't sit particularly well; it's overwrought and incoherent, and certainly not the cold and calculated style of before.

That said, the game does have its moments of undeniable joy, especially in the larger public areas, with plenty of options available for target disposal. In an early episode set in a bustling Chinatown you're tasked with taking out its "king" and there are several imaginative methods to attempt. There are also numerous "accidental kills" you can try with items such as wobbly disco balls and faulty electricity generators just waiting to be made use of.

The graphics, too, are something to behold. Rain-soaked streets and dingy hotels are brought to life in glorious fashion, as is Agent 47's ever-pressed black suit-and-tie combo, unless you're in disguise.

There are niggles. Enemy suspicions are sometimes raised in unrealistic situations and there are several continuity issues. But should you pull off the perfect stealth kill and sneak out unnoticed, you're unlikely to care. And then there's the outstanding level in which you must take out the all-girl Saints hit-squad, each clad in latex catsuits, knee-high boots and - naturally - nuns' habits.

On the multiplayer side, there's the Contracts mode, in which you create your own mission from the areas in the campaign and upload them online for others to attempt.

Absolution is a noticeable leap from the previous Hitmans, a more pulped-up, Quentin Tarantino-style affair. Its overly melodramatic storyline might enrage fans of the old, bleaker Agent 47. But despite having been handed something of a conscience for the first time, he's still a mean killer at heart.

aritman@thenational.ae

Back to the top

More articles


Editor's Picks

 Hajer Almosleh, the winner of the last year's short story competition, at her home in Dubai. Duncan Chard for the National

Get involved with The National’s short-story competition

Writers have two weeks to craft a winning submission, under the title and theme "The Turning Point".

 It is believed that the desert-like planet of Tatooine is being recreated for Star Wars: Episode VII. Could that be where filming in the UAE comes in? Courtesy Lucasfilms

Could the force be with us? The search for Star Wars truth

On the hunt for the Star Wars: Episode VII set, which a growing number of people are sure is in Abu Dhabi, but no one can seem to find.

 With an estimated 18,000 comic and film fans having already paid a visit to this weekend’s Middle East Film and Comic Con, organisers are hopeful they will have surpassed last year total, of 21,000, by its close. Jeffrey E Biteng / The National

In pictures: Middle East Film and Comic Con in Dubai

Dubai's World Trade Center was awash with people visiting this weekend’s Middle East Film and Comic Con. Here's some of our best pictures.

 Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak, the Minister of Culture, Youth and Community Development, presents Quincy Jones with the Abu Dhabi Festival Award as the Admaf founder Hoda Al Khamis-Kanoo applauds. Courtesy Abu Dhabi Festival.

A candid talk with Quincy Jones about the UAE, Lil Wayne and the Abu Dhabi Festival award

The Abu Dhabi Festival honoree Quincy Jones discusses his legendary career as a music producer, the return of Dubai Music Week and why he can’t handle the rapper Lil Wayne.

 Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Prince George of Cambridge arrive at Wellington Military Terminal on an RNZAF 757 from Sydney on April 7, 2014 in Wellington, New Zealand. Chris Jackson / Getty Images

In pictures: Will and Kate visit Australia and New Zealand

Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Prince George of Cambridge are on a tour Down Under for three weeks.

 A protester gives a victory sign during clashes near Tahrir Square in Cairo in November 2011. Goran Tomasevic / Reuters

Street life: humanity’s future depends on ability to negotiate and sustain public space

Negotiating our ever more crowded cities and maintaining vibrant public spaces are among the major challenges facing humanity in the coming decades.

Events

To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National