Hitman is a long-running series that is over 10 years old. The series is highly underrated and overlooked, mainly because of the time between each release. The last game (Blood Money) was released back in 2005. Some people actually thought the series was done until the announcement of Absolution about 18 months ago. You play as a slightly aged Agent 47 while he hunts down men involved in kidnapping a very important girl to the Agency. The story isn’t all that interesting and is slow going, but the characters are great and the voice acting is superb. Of course, the best thing about this game is the signature kills and stealth.
The levels are pretty linear, but 47 now has an instinct ability that will highlight important objects in yellow when they are nearby and will be flashing beacons at a distance. These range from weapons to distractions. Some levels will have hits that you have to complete, but the challenge isn’t just running around shooting everybody, sure you can, but what is the fun in that? Absolution has a very punishing scoring system, even if you kill one target that isn’t your hit you will get a score drop, not much, but enough to keep you from getting the ultimate Silent Assassin score. You can knock out enemies and hide them to regain the negative score back as well. The levels are cleverly designed and each one is completely different. It is really fun to sneak around trying to find ingenious ways to kill your hit, which is usually to make it look like an accident.
If you just can’t find one you can use your signature fiber wire to get the same score, but it isn’t as fun. This is the biggest issue with Absolution though, you get punished for not being stealthy, but the game has a large arsenal of weapons of all kinds. Sure you can run and gun for fun, but I honestly felt they should have just stuck with stealth and left the other weapons out. There are very few times where you need to use a gun, but those are usually silenced. The other huge problem is trial and error. Some levels had to be restarted over a dozen times because I just couldn’t find a path through a bunch of enemies or find a signature kill. I eventually found one, and there are checkpoints spread throughout the levels, but it is really tough. You can use disguises from enemies you subdue or find. The instinct indicators will tell you if someone is about to see through your disguise so you use instinct to kind of blend in. This uses a special instinct meter but can be upgraded over time.
Some levels require multiple hits which can be really tough. The whole point is to distract guards or find quicker ways to your target via vents, ledges, ladders, and other hallways. Most levels are pretty easy to figure out, but there is that one you will restart over a dozen times. This really made the game feel frustrating at times because you will have no idea what to do on the first level. I was completely lost and didn’t know how to kill the targets. You can poison food, make things drop on enemies, or there are level-specific things that can happen. Sometimes you can blend in with the crowd, other times disguises may not be available. Thanks to the large variety of levels and hits you will never get bored. There is also a Contracts mode that expands the single-player campaign as well as the ability to outscore other players.
Multiplayer lets you create your own contracts, but most people won’t spend too much time here. The PC visuals are astounding with beautiful DirectX 11 visuals, but you will need a rig with the latest hardware to run it in this mode. The textures look nearly realistic and there is some gorgeous lighting and shadowing in this game. They are a huge step up over the consoles which really show their age. Overall, Absolution is an amazing stealth game with a lot of variety and satisfying signature kills. I just wish the trial and error wasn’t so high.
Action games are usually full of explosions, running, jumping, shooting, and mayhem. This genre is usually the most popular and has some of the highest budgets. There were a lot of excellent action games this year, it was very hard to narrow it down. These were the best.
AC3 and Dishonored were hard to choose between, but AC3 came out on top due to the excellent production values and overall feeling of the game. Using a setting that is rarely, if ever used in a game is something else. There were so much care and dedication put into this game. The multiplayer is as addictive as ever, the game is just nearly flawless.
The technical category skirts art and pushes you to console to the max. Games that use DirectX 11 on PC, or really push consoles to their ultimate processing get this award. They also have to do it right and use a lot of advanced techniques, or brand new techniques. Since the consoles are 7 years old they usually don’t win this category anymore, but it doesn’t mean they don’t look fantastic.
Yes, all these games have their PC versions nominated, and yes they all use DirectX 11. Far Cry 3 uses it the best this year with fantastic lighting effects, amazing textures, and an astounding draw distance. The lighting looks so real you almost start looking for sunglasses! This game will also push your PC to its max and suck out the power of the latest PC gaming technology. It was hard to choose between these 5, but that draw distance and amazing light effects really put this on top, but just barely.
This looks like the same thing as Best Graphics, Technical but it isn’t! I swear it is a coincidence! Best voice acting consists of professional actors that can carry across a personality and deliver the character so you believe it. There were many games this year that had great voice acting and I couldn’t slide them all in. Honorable mentions go to Max Payne 3, Mass Effect 3, Dishonored, Borderlands 2, and Halo 4. This was one of the toughest categories this year because of TOO many choices instead of not enough.
Hitman’s voice acting is so great because of the way the characters deliver it on screen. Each one is completely different from the other and they are all evil bastards that you want to punch in the face. The lip-synching is amazing and spot on and the facial expressions really bring out the voices. This was tough among many other games, my second choice was Assassin’s Creed III and Far Cry 3, but something about Absolution’s voice acting just sucks you into this experience.