I’ll be Damned…

The last time many gamers saw the bald man with the barcode on the back of his head, Agent 47 and Diana Burnwood had taken down the Franchise in Hitman: Blood Money and things looked to be getting back to normal (well, as normal as they get for the world’s greatest assassin). When we begin Hitman: Absolution, however, things are far more different than we remembered, as 47 has a new handler and his new target is the previously mentioned Ms. Burnwood.

Although some of the pieces of this initial puzzle come together as you play Absolution, there are a lot of unanswered questions in regards to just what transpired between Blood Money and Absolution. Thus, we have Hitman: Damnation, a prequel novel by Raymond Benson (best known for having written several official James Bond novels) that reveals Diana’s fall from grace, introduces and fleshes out key Absoltuon characters like Birdie, Benjamin Travis, and his assistant Jade, and just what brings Agent 47 back into the ICA’s folds.

After Burnwood leaves 47 to die in the Himalayan mountains in the middle of a contract and drops off the grid, everyone’s favorite bald assassin finds himself drifting through life after recovering from yet another near-death experience. Wishing to leave the ICA behind, 47 survives on simple hits for various drug lords and other unsavory types. After all, old habits die a lot harder than most of 47’s targets.

It isn’t long before the newly reformed ICA wishes to reacquire their greatest asset, though, and with the promise of finding Diana and figuring out why she left him, 47 accepts being brought back into the ICA ranks. Wishing to see if 47 still has it, the ICA wants to test the hitman before sending him after Burnwood, should they be able to follow up on their guarantee of finding her. But what starts off as your run-of-the-mill political assassination quickly turns into a conspiracy of global proportions that will push 47’s bio-enhanced skills to their limits.

Considering how much I, like much of the EGM staff, enjoyed Hitman: Absolution, I relished the chance to see several of the blanks in the game’s backstory filled in. Benson shows off his Hitman chops almost right off the bat by how he easily allows readers to jump into the head of the near-emotionless assassin. Although 47’s internal dialogue and Benson’s narration can sometimes blend together a bit too much, getting a better feel for his motivations throughout this book really helped me enjoy what IO Interactive did with the game. This chapter in the Hitman franchise is easily the deepest slice of personality we’ve ever gotten from the cold-blooded killer.

Damnation isn’t just about deepening the character of 47, though. The book may get off to a bit of a slow start, but there’s more than enough action here to keep fans interested, as Benson beautifully describes several hits in stunning, meticulous detail. For the last 100 pages or so, I couldn’t put Damnation down as it ramped up to a thrilling, action-packed conclusion. Throw in some dynamic and interesting villains and I can’t see anyone who enjoys the Hitman games not enjoying this read. This book is more than worth the price ($9.99) considering how much enjoyment Hitman fans will get from its 300 pages. Damnation would make a great stocking stuffer or wishlist addition if you have a huge Hitman fan in your household.

SCORE: 8.5