Prior to Hitman: Absolution, the last time we saw Agent 47 on a console was back in 2006 with Hitman: Blood Money. The cloned assassin was, at one point, a huge hit with gamers and a major motion picture based on the character was on the big screens a half-decade ago. Now, Square Enix and IO Interactive are attempting to resurrect the franchise with this newest release.
I am not convinced they should have bothered. It may be cliché to say that the world of gaming has changed over the course of the past six years, but it has, and to me Absolution feels more like a product of 2006 than 2012. There are definitely good things about it, but all too often the game's failures shine through more clearly than its successes.
One of the reasons that videogames exist is to offer players a chance to experience a different sort of life, a life that they would never ever have in reality – one that they wouldn't even want to have. Playing a game as a hitman is the perfect example of this – to be clear, my issues with the game in no way relate to the character's occupation nor the seedy areas he inhabits. Hitman and Tenchu are two franchises I look back upon with great fondness. Absolution just isn't done very well.
First, let's take the story. I will, as is my rule, not delve into what takes place, but the truth is that you won't really know what's going on after the annoying introductory bit that plays every single time you turn the game on (it can be cut short, but it would have been far better had it only played upon actually starting a campaign, not every time you turn the game on). The story here is irrelevant – at the beginning of a section you are given a task which you go and complete. The story—or what there is of it—takes place entirely during cutscenes following you accomplishing your objective.
What you are required to do on each mission is, more or less, the same thing. To put it briefly, generally you find yourself having to infiltrate a location, kill/save/question someone, and then escape (various interim objectives exist as well). I am not sure how to add a sense of agency to such a storyline, but I can say that none exists here; you just go and do your thing. Consequently, with the repetitiveness of the levels in the game, the lack of agency is something of a problem.