It's taken 6 very long years, and a new developer, Square Enix, to bring us the next iteration in the Hitman franchise. That comes in the form of Hitman Absolution. Was it worth the wait? That depends on how much you were looking forward to the latest Hitman game, because in my opinion, this isn't it. It's a decent, if only slightly above average stealth game, but as the latest addition to the Hitman series it's very mediocre.
The differences in Hitman Absolution and the past games in the series are striking and it all begins with the games linear story. For example, in past games you could choose your weapons before each mission allowing you to eliminate targets any way you saw fit. Now, if you want to slit someone's throat, but the game dictates you shoot them with a silenced pistol, then you're just out of luck.
Square Enix has also replaced the map system in Hitman Absolution. It's substitution is a feature called Instinct, which makes important objects glow, shows you enemies behind walls and covers your face when in the close confines of enemy territory. Oh, did I forget to mention that it lets you slow down time to more easily and precisely shoot multiple targets. While this doesn't sound like and isn't really a bad feature, it just doesn't seem suited for a Hitman game.
The Hitman franchise has always been about choices. You were given a target and it was up to you to choose how to dispose of them. There are 3 or 4 levels in the game that fit the old mold, but most of the others are just check point style levels requiring you to reach Point B from Point A undetected. While the game does offer a variety of ways to get from one point to the other, the bigger problem lies in the ratio of sneaking to assassination missions. What good is a Hitman game with so few assassinations?
The one saving grace in all this would have to be the Contracts mode. Here you can create your own missions allowing you to choose your own targets and method of assassination. You can even share these missions online with other players which also means you can play their created missions too. This really adds some variety and longevity to an otherwise linear experience.
If you're the type of fan that collects games in a series regardless of quality, then I would have to recommend the Hitman Absolution Deluxe Professional Edition. This special limited edition comes with a high quality 10" figurine of Agent 47, an exclusive Making of The Game video, and a very nice hardcover art book. You'll also receive exclusive early access to a host of in-game weapons.
Overall, I wouldn't say Hitman Absolution is a bad game. However, the linear story and lack of freedom in how to finish the game makes Hitman Absolution seem more like an awkward cousin than a full- fledged member of the family. Despite that I would still give the game my recommendation for at least a weekend rental due to the decent story, top notch graphics, sound effects, soundtrack and voice acting.
Final Score 7/10