New Game Features
Each new title in the Hitman game series has traditionally included additional game play elements, as well as changes in the game play from the previous title(s) in the series, and Absolution is no exception to this rule...
New Game Play Elements
In Hitman: Absolution the new game elements include:
In addition to being able to hide in shadows and having access to expanded capacity for closets and other containers for bodies and himself, Agent 47 can now make use of a new game cover mechanic called Blending, in which he can make use of regular objects in the environment in order to blend in with that environment. Good examples of this include using a box of donuts when disguised as a cop to near-completely blend into the environment (cops simply do not notice other cops when they are eating donuts), or picking up a menu and pretending to study it while standing near a food sign. These examples are the modern equivalent to Sam Spade (or some other detective in the 1930's and 1940's) holding a newspaper – which causes them to disappear into the environment.
If you had the opportunity to play the pre-order mini-game Hitman: Sniper Challenge you are already familiar with the Challenge System that has become a major element in the series with Absolution! The inclusion of the Challenges in Sniper Challenge was intended to introduce the player to the concept, though there was nothing in Sniper Challenge to indicate that fact. In Absolution a wide variety of challenges exist, most of which are meant to literally be stumbled upon through completing them, and as the player unlocks them by the numbers they are rewarded in the game with unlocking Achievements / Trophies for the 10th, 50th, and 100th Challenge!
One of the more interesting fusion elements between the story mode and Contracts is the collection of disguises and weapons, which Agent 47 completes in story mode. Each new disguise that 47 finds and uses in story mode is then collected for use in Contracts Mode (but not vice-versa). The same holds true for weapons – each new weapon that Agent 47 finds, picks up, and uses in story mode is then added to his collection and can be used (and in some cases upgraded) in Contracts Mode.
Contracts Online Play Mode
Loyal fans to the Hitman series have been anticipating (and requesting) an online mode for the games going almost back to the first title in the series, Codename 47, with a significant percentage hoping for a Player-vs-Player (PvP) element to any online play mode that was added to the series. In Absolution those dreams and desires have been partially addressed – while there is still no PvP mode per se, there is a player-created, player-initiated semi-cooperative (Semi-Co-Op) online mode, called Contracts, and through which gamers can create game play scenarios and then challenge their mates to complete them with a better time and score, while observing the objectives and limitations for that “Contract” level.
While online PvP sounds like it would be a natural fit for the Hitman series, the developers at IO are legitimately concerned that building that game play mode into the game would not only detract from the story mode (which the games have arguably always been about) but would invariably unbalance the natural focus of the game. It is easily conceivable that a large percentage of the gamers who are fans of the series would find themselves focusing exclusively upon the PvP mode, with much the same effect as that which occurred with the celebrated Call of Duty and Medal of Honor games, whose multi-player online PvP modes have taken over as the most popular game play mode. In fact a significant percentage of gamers who are fans of those series never play the single-player mode in them. Ever.
Consequently when IO created the online play mode for Hitman: Absolution a conscious decision was made to make it a cooperative-competitive mode that functions along the classic client-server model. Each gamer can create one or more custom Contracts that are then automatically uploaded to the Absolution Contracts Servers, and then when one of their mates chooses to play it, the Contract file is then downloaded from the Contracts Server to the local machine for play. If a Contract is deemed to be particularly interesting or effective in design there is a chance that it will be selected to be included as one of the public library of Contract Chalenges.
Contracts Online Creation
The basic system for creating a Contract to be shared online begins with the player choosing the conditions and circumstances that will make up the Contract in the most expeidient manner available – by actually playing the Contract themselves with the Contract building mode simply recording the different choices that the player makes as elements of the Contract. By handling level creation in this fashion the player already knows that the various objectives and conditions that are set out in the Contract can be accomplished, since the player who created the Contract has already fulfilled all of those conditions by crating it!
Each Contract can have up to three assassination targets, can make use of disguises, or require specific uniforms or disguises; each Contract can require the use of specific weapons or methods, and each Contract can include other special objectives, such as not being discovered, hiding bodies, and any other conditional element that the player can think of in the process of creating the Contract.
Edge Mechanics and Climbing
While playing Agent 47 is nowhere near the experience of playing one of the characters from the Assassin's Creed Series, a new system of edge mechanics allows him to do much more than the previous system allowed. In previous titles approaching a ledge or edge environment meant simply climbing it or walking it, while this new system of edge mechanics and climbing permits Agent 47 to hang off of ledges, and execute ledge attacks (pulling takedowns). The limitations that were part of the previous titles in this regard were always accepted as character flaws in game play, while this new and expanded system is certainly a start in the right direction.
Graduated Disguise Effectiveness
One of the oddest characteristics of the previous titles was the fact that, once he has changed successfully and discretely into a disguise, Agent 47 had near-perfect anonymity. In Absolution that is no longer the case, as the value of each disguise is only as great as its rarity! What does that mean?
A perfect example of this is a hotel full of cops and janitors – should Agent 47 change into a police uniform that disguise will work perfectly with the civilians and janitors in the building, but the closer that he gets to actual police officers, the more likelihood there is for his for his disguise to be penetrated and the alarm raised. The same holds true with the janitors – while the police and civilians will accept his disguise as a janitor, should he get to close to a real janitor (who is the rightful wearer of that uniform) the more likely it is that he will be detected.
The primary strategy with respect to the use of disguises is to seek out a very rare disguise and, preferably, a disguise of which there is only one example in the mission/level, thus rendering it as the perfect disguise as there is no rightful owner to detect your falsity and blow your cover.
Hiding in the Shadows
While there was a crude line-of-sight system in the previous titles, hiding in shadows was never really an option, but the new Hide-in-Shadows system that has been added to Absolution significantly expands the strategies available for stealth play.
Point Shooting System
This new feature in the Hitman series is very similar to the bullet-time shooting system that is very similar to the “Mark And Execute” system from the Ubisoft title Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Conviction. The Point Shooting System in Absolution uses the Instinct Meter as its power-source, allowing the player to mark several enemies and then execute an automatic rapid-fire and systematic execution of the marked targets. The more comfortable the player gets with this new bullet-time system the more effective they will be at both marking targets for one-shot kills and including a larger number of targets in each Point Shooting trigger event.
The Point Shooting System in Absolution has an Achievment / Trophy associated with it (“Rocksteady” (20G) You executed a point shooting with at least 3 kills
) which rewards the player for making minimal use of the new targeted bullet-time shooting system.
In Absolution Agent 47 now has the option to psych-out his opponents, using new tactics like pretending to surrender and then taking an enemy who makes the mistake of approaching under the assumption that 47 truly has capitulated, ending up being his human shield as he engages other enemies in the area!
Changes to Game Play
In addition to the new game features that are introduced in Absolution, there are also a number of previous game features that have been modified, including:
Body Hiding Mechanics
In the previous games in the series all containers were clearly labled “dead body capacity = 1” – OK no they weren't, but they may as well have been because even if the container was the size of a dump truck bed once it contained one dead body it was full. This is no longer the case, as the body hiding mechanics in Absolution now offer a much more realistic capability to hide multiple bodies in the same large container! Not only that, but in a pinch Agent 47 can hide a body and himself in a crate or closet, which is good news indeed if you happen to be a fan of the stealth-approach to mission management.
An improved cover-system has been added to the game, allowing Agent 47 to use a wider selection of objects in the game world as cover to reduce exposure to enemy fire. The expanded cover system includes an expanded lean-and-peek system that permits Agent 47 too peel around corners and fire his weapons from partial cover as well.
Game Save System
The player-initiated game save system has been replaced with checkpoint saves in Absolution, moving the burden of remembering to save the game from the player. The checkpoint saves are liberally sprinkled throughout each mission and zone, as for the most part the game save checkpoints are both conveniently and strategically placed within each mission.
A much-improved and expanded melee combat system has finally made its way into the game, permitting vastly expanded potential hand-to-hand combat scenarios and a much broader focus upon improvised weapons in the game. Bearing in mind that Agent 47 spent nearly the entirety of the first 30 years of his life honing his combat skills, it only makes sense that, considering his bare hands and other bodily limbs are weapons in and of themselves, it only makes greater sense that 47 would be proficient in turning every day objects into deadly weapons.
The expansion of melee combat, while for the most part more widely used in the scripted events to which 47 contributes his tremendous skills, follows a demonstrated pattern towards making Agent 47 a more fluid part of the world around him, and playing him a more realistic experience all the way around.
Melee Combat Events
Previous titles in the series tended to treat melee combat as an afterthought, or perhaps it is more accurate statement would be an almost thought? Melee consisted mostly of the odd headbutt and using an environmental object to bash a head or slam the center mass, but in Absolution this lackadaisical approach has been refined to include the instantly recognizable quick-time button event, which far from rendering the process into a generic hand-to-hand combat event has the effect of offering gamers a familiar concept in melee combat that when it is compared to the old methods of implementing the combat style is like a breath of fresh air!
In the previous titles when 47 needed to move through a zone that invariably meant using a window or door, or going up and over, but in the newly expanded navigation system in Absolution, 47 can now use cover objects like half-walls to slip past opponents, and crawl through heating and cooling ducts!
The iconic newspaper summary, so familiar in Hitman: Blood Money, did not make the transition to Hitman: Absolution.
In place of the old rating system, which assessed Agent 47's successes and granted him a title as part of the rating, in Absolution (just like in the Sniper Challenge mini-game) the player receives points for the actions that they take, such as stealth kills, head shots and the like, and they lose points for failures, notoriety, and missing optional objectives. As with Sniper Challenge a system of online Leader Boards has been implemented that allows the player to gauge their successes versus friends as well as the rest of the world at various levels!
The weapon aiming mechanism in the game has been fully overhauled and improved in order to allow Agent 47 to make better use of the weapons with which he is equipped and those that he collects in the game world. Bearing in mind that the Hitman games and the skills set with which Agent 47 is equipped and at which he excels includes a particular focus towards traditional firearms and aimed weapons and these new refinements make perfect sense.
Sniper Challenge Additions
The last feature-related note should naturally be the skill enhancements and items that can be added via the Hitman: Sniper Challenge mini-game, which was largely a pre-order bonus reward. Gamers who have access to the Sniper Challenge have an edge in the game, starting with access to the Agency Kazo TRG Sniper Rifle plus Silencer, and enhancements to the different skills that are related to its use.