Like many people, I was surprised by all the changes brought to the Hitman series by the game Hitman Absolution. I felt the linear nature of the game didn’t fit well with the series’ history of large, open, choose-your-path style missions and that a lot of effort went into features that the game punishes you for using. Recently I went back and played Hitman Absolution while waiting for new content for the current Hitman game. I wanted to know if I had judged the game too harshly in the past. I had not. What I learned was Hitman Absolution is best enjoyed as an action shooter, not a stealth game. Here are 5 features in Hitman Absolution that prove why.
#1 The cover mechanic
In previous Hitman games if you made the mistake of getting in a firefight you had no choice but to try and kite your enemies around walls and other obstacles as you picked them off one-by-one. Not anymore. Hitman Absolution has more chest-high walls than a Gears of War game and the tutorial is just itching to teach you about them.
Not only can you hide behind these lifesaving barriers, but you travel along them. You can fire around corners, Slap chop enemies from behind, and survive an all-out siege as you toss proximity mines blindly across the room. No more hiding for Agent 47. Now all he has to do is keep firing end eventually he’ll come out on top.
#2 Dual wielding never felt better
Perhaps the most iconic feature of the Hitman series, until 2016’s HITMAN all caps, was Agent 47’s dual Silverballers. In previous titles when 47 was dual-wielding he would fire both pistols simultaneously. In Hitman Absolution 47 will alternate firing the left and right pistols. This allows you to conserve your ammunition and line up more headshots with half the reloading.
If that wasn’t good enough, it isn’t even just the Silverballers that 47 can dual wield. Any time 47 comes across two pistols of the same model he can let loose with a barrage of bullets from each hand. Sadly he still doesn’t reload any faster.
#3 Quick-Time-Event based combat
The first mission when Agent 47 gets to Hope South Dakota in Hitman absolution takes place in a biker bar. As soon as 47 shorts out the jukebox the whole place erupts in an all-out brawl where he is free to beat up as many people as he pleases whatever way he sees fit. This quickly forces you, the player, to get familiar with the game’s Quick Time Event combat.
This a feature that is completely new to the series, and admittedly feels somewhat out of place at first. After smashing in a few heads and braining people with a few beer bottles though, you’ll find it hard to go back to sneaking around.
#4 Linear levels
The biggest problem with Hitman Absolution is the departure from open world levels. All of the levels are small isolated corridors or individual floors of a hotel or similar structure. If you get noticed while trying to murder your targets, there aren’t many places to run and hide. These levels are lousy for stealth but are better utilized for running and gunning. Sure 47 can’t hide but neither can his enemies. When the shooting is done, 47 just needs to exit through the door at the end behind which is another hallway of incompetent guards who are oblivious to the carnage left in his wake.
#5 Point Shooting
Point Shooting is a mechanic that is only found in Hitman Absolution. Unlike instinct vision, snapping cover, or quick-time combat it was not adapted and carried forward into 2016’s HITMAN. That is because point shooting has no place in a Hitman game if you’re playing the game correctly.
For the uninitiated, point shooting is an ability Agent 47 has where he can pre-mark targets and then execute a series of rapid shots to hit them. This uses your instinct meter. This meter can be refilled by completing objectives or shooting enemies in the face. This feature is amazing and it is completely disappointing that the game punishes you for using it because you’ll be hard-pressed to find an applicable moment for it when you’re sneaking around trying to murder your targets quietly.
If you throw caution to the wind, you’ll find that Point Shooting is your best friend. It allows you to quickly clear rooms of enemies in one swift motion and continue on to the next room with maximum health and ammunition remaining.
Those are my 5 reasons why Hitman Absolution is better enjoyed as an action shooter than as a stealth game, even if the developers didn’t intend it.
I originally wrote this as a script for a YouTube video that I never made. I don’t want the effort to be wasted so I hope you liked it.