It’s been a long time since a game has absolutely infuriated me. Hitman: Absolution manages to do it.
This is going to be a pretty long rant/review, so be prepared.
Disclaimer: Played 20 hours campaign, on Hard.
I’ll start straight off with the main problem: The Disguise System changes. In Blood Money, enemies
would treat you differently based on what disguise you had on; each disguise had different “permissions”, in terms of what areas of the map you can go in. Enemies would never see through your disguise unless you acted strangely (carried guns as a waiter, throwing objects, bumping into people while sprinting).In Absolution, enemies with the same disguise as you will start pursuing you if you stand in their vision too long (which is a very short time limit). After this, it’s only a matter of time until they realize you’re not really who your disguise says you are and start opening fire. This prompts everyone to start shooting you. Add in the fact that maps typically are CRAWLING with guards of the same uniform and disguises have little worth the majority of the time.
My primary tactic in response to these changes was to change disguise to something beyond a typical cop/guard so I would not be noticed. Sometimes this worked, sometimes I got noticed by other janitors/ushers/etc of the same kind. The only difference of being caught by these guys is that they run away and tell the nearest guards to start shooting you instead. Later levels had high saturation of many types of NPCs, which made me hop from disguise to disguise.
Why is this problem in need of such detail? I found that it forced me to 1) pacify/kill more NPCs than I wanted to and 2) always be looking at patrolling NPCs instead of my enviornment, which is even worse as my first concern on my first playthrough was to look around the map and find what options I had to killing my target. I spent less time planning my kills and more times trying to avoid a massive shootout.
While Hard difficulty increases both the number of enemies and how fast they respond, I feel that
easier difficulties only reduce the above problems in terms of scale. Fundamentally, I found
the disguise and detection mechanics to be absolutely infuriating. I can’t count how many times
I restarted a checkpoint when an npc turned a corner and unveiled me (proximity decreases how much time you have until detection), and unless you deal with who detected you within 1 second, other enemies will be alerted and sometimes even call for backup! It causes a messy, compounding situation that made me just restart the mission every time I was spotted.
This problem reaches its apex in the later half of the game, where almost every enviornment is small and populated with a variety of npcs. Preventing detection required me to burn Instinct and keep behind small cover the whole time. Like mentioned above, this prevented me from exploring (and this getting a good feel for) the missions, making me feel restricted in what should be a sandbox scenario.
I’ll be honest and say I have not finished the game. I’m in the middle of the epilogue mission, but after
going through the first half of it just gunning down everyone (including my target), I realized that I
didn’t care anymore. I’m going to uninstall this game after posting this review.
I know I haven’t mentioned the story, Contracts mode, or even any of the other mechanics yet. To
keep things sparse:
+the story is interesting enough to want to see what happens next, although 47’s character motivations are a little arbitrary. I found the main villian to be entertainingly nutty and even a bit threatening.
+shooting and cover mechanics are solid. Aiming feels fine and you can choose whether you want 47 to “stick” to cover or not.
+Contracts is an interesting idea, but the majority of levels in this game are linear, and I found the sandbox levels to not be fun for the reasons already stated.
I really hate to say that I got so frustrated with a game. I hate being yet another person on the internet saying I didn’t have fun with a game, although I hope I have clearly expressed why I felt that way. Perhaps other people will find this game more fun than I did. However, I strongly advise watching some videos on it, even parts of a playthrough before you make your purchase.