One thing I learned from playing Hitman: Absolution is that I am not very good at stealth games. To be fair, this was the first game of that genre I played since the original Thief on PC, and I did my first Hitman walkthrough on Hard. Still, it was a much bigger challenge than I initially expected it to be. Following my gaming motto, ‘one bronze trophy at a time’, four and a half months and one glitch later, I got the Platinum trophy and I will move on, at least for now. In the Platinum Tracker posts I will briefly describe how I felt about the game in a mini-review format and I will also write about a few specific trophies that influenced my experience with the title.
Blood, sweat and fireworks
I always believed that stealth FPP/TPP games were fun and different, in a good way, than your straightforward action/adventure titles or shooters. They present more of a challenge to the player’s brain and not only his or her reflexes. They force the player to be patient, observe the environment and have a well thought-out plan instead of running around, guns blazing. That’s the theory. In practice, it turns out that trying to beat one section of a single story chapter for over an hour, constantly being spotted by the enemy, isn’t that enjoyable. I admit that maybe I was too optimistic trying to do all that without any disguises and refusing to use guns, sticking to Agent 47’s favorite garrote or simply his bare hands to get rid of the opponents. When I finally decided to change my approach about one third into the game, it picked up pace and the experience was much better. Also, isn’t it more fun to run around Chinatown in a chipmunk costume, setting a guy on fire with fireworks rather than sneaking around with a piece of wire? I believe it is.
The story told in Hitman: Absolution links to the previous games and I think it’s a good idea to know what happened earlier to fully enjoy it. I didn’t do it and the plot often felt confusing to me. In the first mission Agent 47 is told to kill his former handler, Diana, who went rogue. After that, he runs away with a girl called Victoria, going rogue himself. The girl gets kidnapped, Agent 47 needs to get her back and ultimately confront both the kidnappers and his (former) employees. I didn’t really care for the story but my lack of appreciation may come from the fact that I have no previous experience with the Hitman franchise. However, a lot of the set pieces in the game didn’t really have much to do with the plot itself but were more of action interludes between story-telling cutscenes. Or maybe I was so focused on the gameplay and sneaking around that I didn’t pay that much attention to the big picture. Either way, it’s not the story that kept me coming back for more.
There’s no denying that the most fun part of Hitman: Absolution are sections where targets need to be eliminated and where the player’s imagination is rewarded. The second mission of the game, The King of Chinatown, allows you to eliminate the enemy in at least 12 different ways. They range from obvious choices such as gunshot to the head, or garrote in an alley, to more elaborate ones such as poisoned drugs or food or a double head shot with a sniper rifle from a room across Chinatown. This increases the replayability of the game immensely. After I finished the game on hard and got the trophy for that, I gladly used level select to grind the in-game challenges, this time on a lower difficulty setting, and I had a lot of fun trying to figure out how to perform the assassinations in an interesting way. Even though, the last sentence may sound violent, it wasn’t the effect of my actions that was the rewarding part, but the puzzle part that made me analyze the environment and the target’s movement patterns to come up with the perfect solution.
The stealth chapters of the game were slightly less fun, especially when I forced myself to go the Infiltrator/Suit Only way. Several times I felt frustrated and hopeless, thinking that a given stage can’t be completed without shooting my way out of it. I wanted to give up and I did twice, when I had to look up a YouTube video showing how to beat a fragment of the game.
Put a hit on me
Hitman: Absolution also comes with an interesting online mode – Contracts. In it, the player can create his or her own mission, marking up to three targets to be eliminated and setting rules for their elimination such as disguise and weapon restrictions, whether Agent 47 can be spotted or where the exit point is. By completing the Contract the player earns money which can be spent on new disguises and guns and their upgrades. All of the bought items, as well as those unlocked in the single player campaign can be used in the when creating new Contracts. I’m not the most creative person when it comes to in-game content creation but I did check out some of the Contracts suggested by the game (it does so every time you pause it) and they are both challenging and fun. I’m not ruling out coming back to the game from time to time to play a couple of them to beef up my arsenal. Even though I’m also not a fan of a game having online-related trophies, I was glad that Hitman made me check out the Contracts mode on my way to the Platinum trophy.
There are 47 trophies in the game (get it? get it?), 20 of which are story-related. Each completed chapter awards the player with a bronze trophy, except for the final one which is silver. There’s one difficulty-based trophy ( Absolution) that requires the player to beat the game on one of the professional difficulty settings, Hard being the easiest one. The majority of the remaining trophies are virtually unmissable and awarded for such basic game actions as subduing an enemy, hiding a body, using the ‘bullet time’ shooting mode to eliminate enemies, etc. There are two trophies, which fall into the ‘completionist’ category, that I would like to be more detailed about.
| Grand Master
|Complete 100 challenges|
There are 278 (!) challenges in the game, scattered around 20 chapters. What I really like about this trophy is that it doesn’t force the player to complete them all. It’s enough to get 100 to get the Platinum and still feel pretty good about oneself. In my first playthrough I got around 80 challenges, so it wasn’t a big deal to go back to several chapters and complete the remaining 20 or so. The challenges come in different flavors. There are some obvious ones such as ‘Chameleon’, which is awarded for using all disguises available in the chapter or ‘Suit Only’, which… well, I guess you get it. The are also more obscure ones such as ‘Chew the Fat’ with a hint message ‘There’s no need to be a party pooper’ (get through a bar chapter without starting a fight). Again, this adds to the replayability of the title and forces the player to come up with different ways of dealing with the game environment. Although I completed 117 challenges so far (still less than 50%), I’m seriously considering doing all of them just to test myself, see if I got any better at the game and to figure out other ways of eliminating targets that I haven’t noticed so far.
| Jack of All Trades
|Collect all play styles|
This trophy is a perfect example of why you should read trophy guides (ps3trophies.org) before attempting a Platinum trophy run if you don’t want to waste hours of gameplay. But let’s start at the beginning. Following the example of chapter-based challenges, the game also offers 20 game-wide play styles that are mostly awarded for disposing of enemies in a specific fashion. After my playthrough I completed 13 of them so I didn’t think unlocking the rest would be a problem. Again, the game doesn’t specifically tell the player what needs to be done to earn a play style, giving only a name – Viking – and a flavor hint message – ‘Professional athletes do it. Trolls do it. But nobody wields a massive wooden club quite like Agent 47’. It’s not that hard to figure out what needs to be done but it’s a nice touch that adds another puzzle element to the game.
What is not so nice, though, is the fact that the trophy is glitched. One of the play styles requires the player to kill 5 enemies in a row with a thrown sharp object without getting spotted. An obvious chapter to do it is the Cornfield one where the plants act as perfect cover for Agent 47 and he can take out enemies one after the other staying hidden. Since I already did a couple of play styles on that level, I decided to go against reason and try a different approach. After half an hour of sneaking around and throwing a knife in the first chapter of the game, the final play style ultimately unlocked, but the in-game popup wasn’t followed by the familiar ‘bing!’ sound indicating an unlocked trophy. I waited a few moments but there was still nothing there. The game showed all play styles unlocked but PSN showed no trophy. My first major trophy glitch. I must have been so lucky up to this point. A quick read of the trophy guide enlightened me – play styles unlocked in the first (tutorial) chapter of the game glitch the trophy. Still, there was hope. A simple solution was to repeat the play style requirements on another chapter. So, to the Cornfield I went. Being a professional knife thrower now, I managed to take down 8 enemies in a row but, alas, still nothing in the top right-hand corner of the screen. All hope was lost and I felt that, one trophy short, the Platinum would not be achieved.
Not on my watch, though. I clenched my teeth, copied the save file to an external drive, removed the game data and… restarted the whole game. It turns out that Hitman: Absolution is an extremely easy game that can be beaten in 2-3 hours, when played on Easy. The opponents almost don’t react to you, it’s easy to blend in and hide using Agent 47’s Instinct, which automatically regenerates. It felt really good, compared to the gruelling grind of the Hard playthrough. I completed the first 6 chapters, which was enough to cherry pick the ones that allowed the play styles to be unlocked. And finally it came. One ‘bing!’ followed promptly by another and Platinum trophy #26 was in the books.
| Top of Your Game
|Collect all play styles|