How would you like a rave review today? “Hitman: Absolution” is tremendous. Spectacular. Adrenalin-pumping. Beautifully designed. Amazing-looking. A masterpiece. As fun as games get. It is perfect.
You portray a world-class assassin, Agent 47. Powerful men have done something nefarious with a little girl.
So in the beginning, you find and hide her. Then you gear up for a journey to seek and eliminate villainous scum.
You can play “Hitman: Absolution” in various ways.
You can go all sleuth - sneaking through gloriously opulent mansions and crowded public squares, and then kill only your final target without harming henchmen or passersby.
Or, you can shoot dozens of henchmen in each mansion.
Or, you can find a middle ground, by sneaking around mansions, and killing only a few henchmen, while hiding from massive search parties.
You can also tailor-make “Hitman: Absolution” to play as a casual game or a hardcore outing, because it has five (wow, five!) different levels of difficulty to choose from.
If you choose the easiest mode, you casual gamers can easily complete the game by merely killing everyone.
Everything about this game is incredible. The game play is flawlessly intuitive and fun. The acting is great in sometimes shocking cinematic scenes.
And the sound system is smoking hot, from sound effects to dialogue tracks, giving the whole adventure a deliciously devilish feel.
I love how “Absolution” makes me think smarter to complete each mission.
Each level begins with your Hitman trying to infiltrate a mansion, building or public square.
If this were any other goal-oriented game, you would progress by trekking only one path shaped by the game makers.
But “Absolution” lets you can find various ways into and around each mansion.
You can sneak in through windows and basements. You can knock out a henchman (or a chef, or an electrician) then don his clothes as a disguise, which lets you walk freely through mansions (to a degree).
Or, you can use the game’s cover system to hide behind corners, and then throw a screwdriver across a room to trick a henchman into walking to that screwdriver, so you can sneak past him.
But I do want to issue this holiday-gift warning: Do not buy this game for are a budding psychopath. It ought to be played by people of sound minds who can emotionally process face-to-face killings.
That’s because it’s more realistic (akin to a Tarantino movie) than “Call of Duty” fantasies (which are akin to Schwarzenegger flicks).
In “Absolution,” I have killed people by sneaking up behind them and stabbing them in the neck with an office desk’s note-posting stick. I have twisted necks. I have sniped heads.
So, hey, listen, I don’t feel good about myself for loving the killing in “Hitman Absolution.” But whatever. It’s awesome! I have played through it twice already. I plan to play it over and over this winter.
If you follow suit, you may need to consult a therapist.
(“Hitman: Absolution” by Square Enix retails for $60 for Xbox 360 and PS 3; $50 for PC — Plays incredibly fun. Looks amazing. Easy to very challenging, depending on the mode you choose. Rated “M” for blood, gore, intense violence, partial nudity, sexual themes, strong language, use of drugs. Four out of four stars.)
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Doug Elfman is an entertainment writer for the Las Vegas (NV) Review-Journal. Contact him at DElfman@reviewjournal.com