Zadzooks: Hitman: Absolution review

Agent 47 returns to work with plenty of puzzling contracts

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Besides the knives stuck in a head, breaking bones, body dragging and such, it offers creative profanity, scantily-clad females, some nudity, machine-gun-wielding nuns on a rampage and a variety of gross misogynist bosses, all no less familiar to “Boardwalk Empire,” “Sin City,” “Sopranos” and “Pulp Fiction” aficionados.

A familiar voice-over cast — led by David Bateson as Agent 47 and mixed in with veteran character actors such as Keith Carradine, Powers Boothe and Steven Bauer — helps sell the mature tale of revenge.

Also, locations are seamy and urban throughout, loaded with aggressive and squeamish characters that, especially in crowds, can really alter a player’s strategies. My favorite encounters took place in the fine areas of the Windy City. Listening to the cops unload on the Hitman with a slew of verbiage tinted with a Chicago-thick accent was hilarious.

A new online mode Contracts can greatly extend the action for the serious fan. A player accepts a kill order from others online, for up to three targets in one of the campaign’s locations, and collects cash and points for following the correct parameters (such a killing only with a pistol).

Or, a player can design his own contract for other assassins to follow by customizing a target, weapons, location and setting rules for completing the target kill. He must also test the contract before making it available online.

Not quite like Resident Evil 6’s feature to drop into someone else’s game as monster or a traditional player versus player frag fest, the online mode really tests the solo assassin’s abilities while judged by his competitor’s point totals from around the world.

Additionally, those who ordered the game early (although I bet a downloadable option for a price will be available soon), can enjoy a Sniper Challenge.

The stand-alone mission places in the hands of Agent 47 a Kazo TRG sniper rifle and offers rounds of target practice on some weapons manufacturer and his passel of 15 bodyguards.

Best part of the extra is the large gun and any other upgrades unlocked carry over to the main campaign. It’s really a stand-alone joy appreciated in nuggets as the unlockables become more tempting and point totals reach into the millions with successful attacks, numbers worthy to brag against others online.

After the last contract has been fulfilled, Hitman: Absolution dazzles through its strategy elements. Developers IO Interactive do succeed by sticking to a solid, brutal formula to keep players tense, thinking and busy. Agent 47’s violent agenda is a hard-core experience tailored to remind the mature gamer that the hunt is more rewarding than the kill.

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