HIT­MAN: AB­SO­LU­TION

18, Square Enix, Xbox (also PS3, PC)

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - FUN & GAMES - CIARA O’BRIEN

Agent 47 is back, and for fans of the se­ries it’s been a long wait. Five years to be ex­act.

So does the lat­est in­stal­ment of the pop­u­lar se­ries live up to its legacy? In some ways, yes. Agent 47 is just as ruth­less in his kills and as stealthy in stalk­ing his vic­tims. Dis­guises and im­pro­vi­sa­tion are a huge part of the game.

But the cru­cial dif­fer­ence is the nar­ra­tive. Ab­so­lu­tion brings in a story that moves be­yond the silent kills and psy­cho­pathic ten­den­cies. It’s a more per­sonal side of Agent 47 that we’ve seen be­fore.

The ba­sic sto­ry­line is this: af­ter shoot­ing his former han­dler, Agent 47 takes on the role of pro­tec­tor to Vic­to­ria, who es­caped from the agency.

This is where opin­ion gets di­vided on Ab­so­lu­tion. Hav­ing a sto­ry­line means the open sand­box world of Hit­man sud­denly isn’t so open any more. But it’s not ex­actly lin­ear ei­ther. You don’t feel as if you’re be­ing forced to fol­low a par­tic­u­lar path although, in re­al­ity, a lot of the time you prob­a­bly are. Some of the lev­els are Hit­man at its best, al­low­ing you to wan­der crowded streets and take down tar­gets in what­ever man­ner you choose, so there are enough open el­e­ments to give you the il­lu­sion of free­dom.

Ab­so­lu­tion has some­thing else that’s dif­fer­ent: the ad­di­tion of con­tracts, an on­line mode where you can cre­ate your own hits and share them with the on­line com­mu­nity. Level, tar­get and weapons are all de­cided by the player, who also sets the rules for how the kill should be car­ried out, the length of time and wit­nesses. You can com­pete against friends in con­tracts, and suc­cess­fully com­plet­ing the chal­lenge will earn you cur­rency for buy­ing weapons, dis­guises, up­grades and new tech­niques.

The move away from the com­pletely open world may leave some hard­core fans of

Hit­man dis­ap­pointed. And, yes, it may have been a slightly pop­ulist move to cram in the sto­ry­line. But over­all, this is an en­joy­able se­quel.

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