Thursday, August 27, 2015

Hitman: Absolution review


    I don't have much experience with the Hitman series. I knew the iconic character from cultural osmosis but never played any of his games. I decided to give them a try after the enjoyable Hitman: Agent 47, though. I was so enthusiastic, I actually moved my Xbox 360 back into the bedroom to play Hitman: Absolution and the remastered versions of the three games preceding it.

    So what did I think of Absolution (which I played first)?

    It's a really-really fun game.

    Great even.
The gritty noir feel of the game is one of its best qualities.

    The premise of the game is Agent 47, the bald-headed, barcode-sporting protagonist of the games has been assigned to kill his former handler Diana. Diana is as close to a human connection as 47 possesses left in this world, especially after the events of Silent Assassin, and his arguable only friend.

    Despite this, he still chooses to carry out the mission and terminate her life. It's only as she lays dying that 47 discovers why she betrayed their agency (called "The Agency") and brought about her death: a young girl named Victoria has been created via genetic engineering and is destined to become a super-assassin like 47.

    Hating what he's become and unwilling to see an innocent condemned the same fate, 47 kidnaps the girl and takes up the newly-deceased Diana's role in protecting her. Unfortunately, a corrupt redneck arms dealer and the Agency aren't about to let something so valuable as Victoria slip through their fingers.

    So 47 has to kill everyone after her.

The game is Mature rated and earned its rating.

    As plots go, it's not exactly The Last of Us but it works well given the character's history and established personality. 47 is never warm and cuddly but you believe it when he goes Papa Wolf on the various bad guys who want to control Victoria. His subdued emotions are contrasted strongly with his absolute fury expressed in several scenes. This is, after all, one of the few times he's killing for himself rather than as part of a contract. I am very-very pleased, with the storytelling.

    The characters in the game and storytelling are set up in a gritty, Tarantino-esque, exploitation film sort of way. Agent 47 is the ultimate badass protecting the pure and virginal Victoria as well as nuns from the deviant villains. There's a lot of interesting sexual imagery spread throughout the game which is interesting given Agent 47's asexuality.

    The owner of a local strip club is a serial killer, a psycho henchman makes constant sexual jokes, the misguided mentally stunted Lenny is bullied constantly for his lack of manliness, the Saints are assassin stripper-nuns (seriously), and villain Blake Dexter is a greasy Southerner embodying every toxic trope of masculinity which exists. Hell, Blake's bodyguard is obviously a steroid-ed up Danny Trejo.

    The game takes you from the grimy streets of Chicago with its poverty, ruined buildings, and sleazy strip clubs to the deserts of the West. From there, you'll deal with hick gunshop owners, greasers who are much more dangerous than they seem, and bars where fighting is a national pastime. There's Chinatown during New Years, creepy motels, factories, and other wonderful settings for killing people.

Every level is beautiful and full of character.
    One flaw of the game is there's two very different kinds of levels. The first kind of level is the sandbox level where there's a target or a few targets which 47 has to kill. You can kill these any way you want and there's usually several methods to do so. You can garrote them, shoot them, arrange suspicious accidents, or kill them with sniper rifles.

    You can also lay traps for them like where I arranged for the car alarm on an expensive vehicle to go off in order to lure its owner to it, then shot him in the face. These levels are, by and large, a lot of fun. They have a high level of replayability and are never so large you don't want to devote extra time to doing so.

    The second kind of level is a more traditional linear pathway where there's guards looking for 47 and you have a straight line to get past them. These kind of levels are more akin to Max Payne than Deux Ex and aren't as much fun: even if they're still fun. I just wish I'd been given more options for dealing with the situations I faced.

Admittedly, some elements of the game are ridiculous.

    One thing I'm rather leery of the fact is disguises are rather worthless. There's almost no point to disguising yourself as a police officer since they can see through police officer disguises. On the other hand, there's nothing more awesome than finding a disguise which fools police and then just walking around them to do whatever skullduggery you want.

    But yeah, still very-very fun.

    In conclusion, Hitman: Absolution is a great game. It's a hard R-rated game which has some problematic sexual elements but given this is about a amoral hitman with severe issues, it's not one I'm going to criticize heavily. I really hoping they make this game backwards compatible with the Xbox One.

9.5/10

6 comments:

  1. Interesting review Charles, personally I didn't like this game much, well the story I felt it didn't fit the series well and the writers didn't get what made blood money a great game in my view, since the writers and some of the developers for this game didn't work on pervious games.

    They didn't seem to get the stealth part of it and went more for an action tarantino based style of gaming.

    Plus I hated how every woman character in this game was sexualised in the worst way, I mean Victoria is basically a walking device and feel like she's designed to appeal to young male gamers.

    This type of design and writing in gaming needs to stop, gaming needs to get past this type of writing I feel, it's much more capable than what I saw in this game.

    The level designs were good in places, but it felt like it stripped away what made the other games great, especially blood money, namely choosing which weapons to take and customization of them.

    Plus there was less ways to do cunning kills, like say swapping a weapon so a target will kill themselves accidentally. Oh the ways you could kill foes in pervious games was a major part of why I loved the older games.

    Also some of the characterization of the character's didn't make much sense in light of earlier games, namely Diana. She has never been the caring type and now she starts caring about innocents. Agent 47 was mostly in character, but the story at points made him look like an idiot.

    Dexter was a villain I felt that was only a threat because of the cut scenes like kai leng from mass effect, it's something games still rely too much on. using cut scenes to do stories when developers need to use gameplay to tell their stories.

    Speaking of the last of us, that game was in some ways an interactive movie. Pretty much all of it's story was told like a movie, not a video game. Shame as some parts of it is great, though I feel it has been overrated by many.

    Naughty dogs games in general to me are more movie than vide games, those guys feel like they are in the wrong industry at times. They really need to do more to make their gameplay stand out. As most of their games are quite generic in that department. It's their writing and actors motion acting that make their stuff stand out.

    Rambled on there as always.

    The game isn't bad but is let down by a unfitting story and also a villain that really was just b-movie in every way. I look forward to seeing what you make of the earlier games. Also they will give you Agent 47's origins in more detail.

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    1. Well, I did like Absolution and it'll be interesting to compare the game to Blood Money and previous entries in the series when I got to them. I'm thankful I picked up the Xbox 360 collection for Silent Assassin, Contracts, and Blood Money. As such, I'm judging Absolution on its own merits as an introduction to the series.

      I'm normally quite harsh on feminine presentations in video games and there's a lot going on in the game which is sleazy, trashy, and borderline misogynist. The thing is, this is a game which an homage to the old grindhouse exploitation drama scenes. Movies, as you mention, which strongly influence Quentin Tarantino's style. The misogyny comes at the hands of the villains, 47's murder of the Saints aside (and they were trying to kill him), while the game's central motivation is his loyalty to Diana as well as desire to protect Victoria. I guess, essentially, I took this game less than seriously so it ddn't bother me as much as it could.

      I also can't compare to previous games but I felt there were plenty of ways to resolve missions in oddball ways as well, at least 3 for every single target I encountered. I eliminated people via replacing BBQ sauce with lighter fluid, poisoning pizza, exposing wires on electrical circuits before people take a wizz on them and other fun stuff. But, again, I can't compare to previous entries in the series so I may be way off.

      I may view this game more harshly in hindsight but can only judge from how it presented itself in the game.

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  2. It's Wednesday and guess what. You're still an idiot.

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    1. I take it you don't like Hitman: Absolution?

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    2. What I thought of Absolution is irrelevant, but you're an idiot for thinking that people honestly care about a review on a, "ok," game that came out years ago. It doesn't even have retro status yet. If you did a retrospective review on The first Hitman or Contracts, that would be a different deal but a review as though written the game just came out is idiotic and annoying. It makes me sad to read you put hard work into it because you could have spent that time better. You can do it, you're a good writer so stop wasting your time and try to review outdated games that have no retro value and pass it off as current event. Not for my sake, for yours.
      Also, playing Blood Money on a console is questionable. It is even worse considering Blood Money looks better on PC and the 360 and apparently you are planning on making a review on Blood Money based on the 360 version which, again, is very idiotic. Sure, Blood Money is the most popular one though it's an outdated platform. At least refer to the PC version though, again, it won't find much success as it's still so fresh on everyone's mind. May I suggest a top 5 Hitman levels. I mean, from all Hitman games or even top 10. THAT would make sense and brings even nostalgia to people's mind. But stop making such reviews. It's a waste of your time and in the end, for an aspiring writer, not worth your time and pretty much no creativity involved.
      Now, do yourself a favour and take on the feedback from Reddit. Take on what I wrote here as well, as I wan't born yesterday and actually did give you constructive criticism now and know as well what people want and are looking for. There is a reason I use a phony Google account named Random Citizen. I do have a following and am, like you, doing creative things in regards to video games that can generate attention and expresses opinions.

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    3. Thank you, but I write my reviews because I like to do them. For me, the game was new because I just picked it up. However, perhaps I could have made it clear I was reviewing Absolution as part of a larger intent to review the Hitman media franchise including the games all remastered for console as well as things like the movies, books, and whatnot. I did this for the Metal Gear and Assassin's Creed franchises as well. I can't review it on PC because I use a laptop rather than hardware designed for gaming. Sadly, the good one I used for Star War: The Old Republic was destroyed in an accident. I'll take your suggestions in the manner of constructive criticism, though. If nothing else, it did open my eyes to the fact sharing a review for a game two or three years old and expecting a positive reaction was naive. Good luck with your own following and works.

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