Let’s allay any reservations hardened Agent 47 fans might have before snapping up a copy of IO Interactive’s sequel to its 2006 master class in stalking and slaying – Hitman: Absolution is one of the most incredibly gratifying stealth games of 2012, despite the massively misfired marketing campaign, which has spent the last twelve months desperately trying to make us believe the silent assassin’s return to the limelight is a bombastic third person shooter teeming with latex nuns and guns.
Absolution is a game that does not want you to rush through its meaty campaign. What it wants – no, begs – you to do, is to explore its marvellously realised world and sniff out the packed roster of morbid executions that can be applied to a series of increasingly nefarious marks. Maybe you’ll poison one goon’s drug stash, yank another out through the window of a cliff-side mansion, or clip the King of Chinatown from a safe distance with a high-powered sniper rifle.
It’s a deliciously disturbing serving of gameplay wrapped up in a slightly daft narrative that kicks into gear with an interesting hook – pitting 47 against his entire agency at the behest of his old handler, Diane – before swiftly derailing. Senseless storyline aside, the DNA of the series remains much the same. However, there have been tweaks including a slow motion headshot mechanic similar to the one found in Ubisoft Montreal’s Splinter Cell: Conviction and Instinct, which allows Agent 47 to track the movements of an enemy or highlight objects of interest. Stir in the crack-like addiction of Contracts mode and you’ve got yourself a Hitman to remember. Let’s just hope that IO Interactive don’t make us wait for another six years before dishing up a further serving of the barcoded beast.