Hitman Absolution: Clumsy Execution

The Hitman series has been considered to be one of the top-tier stealth games on the PC. The cool and collected Agent 47, hiding in plain sight and tense stealth sections have helped cemented the series as one of the best.

The other side is that the series is known for its complexity and high difficulty, making the act of beating a level an accomplishment. With Hitman Absolution, IO Interactive attempted to change the formula to attract both PC and Console gamers with a more accessible game. But while there are several good ideas, this was not the Hitman we’ve come to know, love and kill with.


Hide and Seek:

Hitman Absolution was the first game in the series to weave a story into the gameplay instead of having it as a framing device between assassinations.

Agent 47: the titled Hitman was ordered by the agency that he worked for to kill his former handler. After doing so he finds a girl and decides to go against the agency and protect her while figuring out why everyone wants her.

The first big change was the level structure. Fans of previous games will be unhappy to know that the levels have shrunk compared to earlier games. Now one “level” was made up of multiple sections each with their own objectives, enemies and point rewards.

Points are another new feature to Absolution. Everything you do in a level would award or deduct points from your score. These points factored into a meta-game leveling system that awarded new perks and were also bragging rights on a high score list.

While the shorter sections helped frame the story better, they also reduced the # of strategies and routes you could take. Each section basically existed in its own vacuum: with any alerts erased when you moved on. There was definitely a sense of levels having multiple ways through them and “the best way” based on patrol patterns and where the objectives were.


Performance in each section was itemized to show you exactly how stealthy you were.

The stealth aspect has also changed and not for the better. Because not every level involves killing someone, you spent most of your time moving from point A to B trying not to be spotted.

Detection was very gamey in Absolution. Undisguised, the player can move through areas that weren’t being guarded with impunity.

When the player was in a dangerous spot, a meter began to fill on screen to show that the person was looking at them and their general direction. The meter grew based on the distance the player was from the enemy, but I had cases where it filled quickly regardless.

The detection was a bit wonky from my experience, with enemies spotting me from weird angles, while other times I could walk directly around their side and not be seen at all. Another time I threw an item to create a distraction and the guy in the same room did not hear it, but a friend a floor up did. This wonkiness carried over to disguises and how they work in Absolution.

When you wore a disguise, anyone who was the same profession would still detect you regardless of your actions, this made no sense to me especially at the range enemies were detecting me. Also, I found it very gamey that each profession knew the identities of everyone in their respective group. The only ways to avoid being detected were to either hide or turn around in a crowd, or use instinct.

Instinct was another new feature in Absolution and also added to the gaminess. Pressing ctrl on the keyboard would activate 47’s “assassin sense.” While this was active, you could spot enemies through walls, see patrol patterns, useful items and avoid being detected while disguised.

That last point involves one of the most gaminess things I’ve seen: 47 basically turned his head and did a face palm and magically people didn’t notice him anymore. Instinct drains out and on the easier difficulties recovered overtime. Playing on hard or higher, it only recovered when you did something assassin-like.


Moving through crowds of people to stalk your target(s) was one of the high-points in Absolution.

Unfortunately the stealth aspects felt simplified compared to previous Hitman games and the high mark: Blood Money.

I noticed on a number of occasions that the AI patrol pattern would change based on 47’s position in the level at certain trigger points.

This in turn made things even more linear as you were not adapting to the level, but simply memorizing patterns.

The merits of the point system were debatable. The way it itemizes your actions tend to clash with the player doing their own thing. One area that I did like was the new “Contracts” mode. In this mode you set up a kill in any of the levels, define additional parameters like: do it with a specific disguise and then challenge other players to do it.

Getting back to the puzzle aspects and away from the story was where Absolution was at its best. The levels that were all about you, a target and numerous ways to end them were the closest to the older Hitman games.

One final complaint that needs to be mention would be the poor execution (no pun intended) of QTEs. During hand-to-hand fighting, the player had to input the button prompts that flash on screen. The problem was that the symbols moved around along with the body and the font’s color was dull enough that made it hard to see the actual lettering.

Blood Money‘s interesting use of notoriety to add a Meta connection between levels is still regarded as the most evolved game the Hitman series has to offer. With Absolution, the developers did step outside of the box to make a lot of changes, but these changes detract from what made the Hitman series stand out.


Perks were a part of the game’s scoring system and felt superfluous in a game that was about stealth.

Hitman Absolution wasn’t a horrible game, but it didn’t necessarily feel like a Hitman game.

The changes and additions seem more at home in another stealth game, and Absolution would have done better to further enhance what made Blood Money stand out.

Hopefully in the next Hitman game, we can get back to hiding in plain sight, instead of face-palming our way to victory.