Hitman: Conversation

By Alec Meer on November 23rd, 2012 at 9:00 pm.

worst hiding ever

In which Adam, who has played it all, and Alec, who has played around a third of it, gather to discuss IO Interactive’s divisive Hitman: Absolution. Devout Blood Money disciple Adam felt let down by this latest reinvention of Agent 47 – does Alec feel differently? (“No.”) They do find some positive things to say about it though, promise.

Alec: I’ve been playing some Absolution. It’s brilliant! Just kidding. It’s a nasty, grimy, uneven game.

Adam: I almost wish I had someone to debate it with, who did think it was brilliant. But I think I’d just say YOU’RE WRONG and we’d find little common ground. I have been pondering how much of my dislike does come from the ugliness of it – I don’t think it’s well designed on the whole but there are bright spots. I wonder if I’d feel more sympathetic toward those if they weren’t wrapped in grime.

Alec: Though one thing I’d say is that it does tension quite well even while doing its silly cover-hopping and face-hiding thing. Wandering through the level set in a mid-raid weed dealers’ apartment was agreeably stressful in a way. Having to move so slowly and carefully while knowing that the exit is so close to hand but you can’t rush to it.

Adam: Yeah, it does – I was impressed for a while. I think the illusion collapses quite quickly though.

Alec: The bit either side of that, where you’re trying to evade an army of police in a ruined building, was just irritating. Especially the cover-hopping to avoid helicopter searchlights bit.

Adam: It picks up again when the story moves to Hope – there’s a level, Streets of Hope, which is the best in the game. And then it turns into run away from men with guns again for a few hours.

Alec: I like the point-scoring more than I’d expected. Not sure that’ll last, but it encourages accepting consequences rather than hitting restart in a way, when you realise that a fuck-up isn’t quite as disastrous as you’d first thought. Taking the hit to your score for killing a dude or two and plotting how you could gain a few more is more appealing than restarting, given then frustratingly limited checkpoints.

Adam: My favourite moment in the entire game was doing the Terminus Hotel mission for the umpteenth time and trying to get through without using the basement. Ended up with four bodies in the toilets near the entrance because every time I throttled someone, another person would walk in.

Alec: that happens a lot, doesn’t it? I half wonder if it’s programmed to. I get caught moving a body more than anything else, people seem to just appear from nowhere while I’m dragging a man in his underwear into a cupboard.

Adam: Yeah, I reckon if you could watch NPC movements, they change their pathing according to what the player’s doing.

Alec: Tell you what, I wonder if we might feel slightly warmer towards it if the cutscenes weren’t there. Not in terms of the bobbins story, but because that’s where the meant-spiritedness and exploitation is focused. They seem to arrive from a different game – the game itself seems to be brighter and sillier.

Adam: Absolutely – there’s a level fairly late in the game, which you probably haven’t seen yet, and it’s so gleefully macabre and grotesque that I was grinning from ear to ear. It doesn’t seem to be from the same mind that introduces a non-character in a cutscene who is graphically executed without speaking a word.

Alec: I was trying to work out if the horrible cutscenes are pandering to a perceived audience, or if someone really is proud of the brutality, the objectification and the gratuitousness. I fear the latter – someone thinks they’re Tarantino, but lack the self-awareness.

Adam: I think there’s a pride in the daft mythology – the Agency and its magiscience – but I’m not sure about the grindhouse exploitation vibe.

Alec: also, I found that playing on Hard was… hard. Properly hard. Which will please some. And there’s still two difficulty settings above that.

Adam: I found the difficulty settings hugely exciting – they seem to cater for everyone.

Alec: On the first level, the king of Chinatown, I couldn’t actually beat it on hard without inciting a mini-massacre, which was purely due to where it puts extra guards. Tricks and distractions were impossible because too many police were roaming. Not totally sure it was balanced or accommodating to stealth at that setting – but it may very well just be I’m not a good enough stealther.

Adam: Yeah, that’s precisely my experience. The game doesn’t seem to have been designed for the higher difficulties – I felt like Purist had been put in because people would be pleased to hear about it rather than because it’d be enjoyable or challenging to play.

Alec: I felt like a shmuck dropping to Normal but I hate leaving a trail of bodies in my wake.

Adam: There’s a level where 47 has to find some fuses, because he is a handyman as well as a hitman, and I dropped to Normal so the game would point me toward them. Otherwise it was a case of sneaking around, waiting for people to move out of the way, hoping that the next shelf happened to have a fuse on it. There were a lot of shelves.

Alec: Oof. I use the Instinct magic-stealth-meter exclusively for the ridiculous face-covering thing that makes disguises actually work. I also realised I’d been trained by DIshonored – I kept trying to devise a non-lethal or at least more trickery-based way to take down targets.

Adam: Speaking of Dishonored, I’ve played three stealth games recently and they approach the concept completely differently. Mark of the Ninja – which is brilliant – is about light and sound, with an interface and style that’s entirely about communicating that.

Dishonored is almost entirely about motion – it looks at the problem of infiltration, avoidance and escape and realises that it’s best understood through architecture, and navigation through architecture. It’s why I can forgive some of the AI foibles much more readily than I expected I would. The buildings matter more than the guards and their design is consistently intelligent.

And then there’s Hitman, which has so many potentially interesting systems but doesn’t, on the whole, put the player in interesting areas to use them.

Alec: aye, Dishonored isn’t about hiding as such, it’s about not getting into situations where you have to hide, and that comes from ongoing navigation.

Adam: And cover-based stealth, which is more common in Absolution than disguises, is mostly about sitting still. Squatting.

Alec: I guess they thought have disguises just work would be at odds with the small levels. You’d just saunter right through them in minutes. So instead they came up with ways to ensure you have to take your time – the limited face-covering timer, the cover system.

Adam: That’s what the vast majority of my complaints come back to – most of the levels can’t support many possibilities. I mentioned in the WIT that there’s a level toward the end that I completed by walking past about thirty military types, all hunting for me, with my hand over my face. That shouldn’t happen!

Alec: the suspicion meter thing is a disaster – the way it ebbs away if you just turn to face the other direction or move an inch to the left. Or if you go to one of the ‘Hide’ interactions you can be stood right next to a guy who 0.5 seconds ago was about to draw his gun on you for as long as you like.

So in the exit from the hotel I was surrounded by cops while dressed as a cop. They were about to rumble me, then I pressed E To Hide on a box of donuts. Which resulted in me standing there in plain sight, in a frozen position with a donut held to my lips. And the cops say “oh, he’s nobody.” I continued to not eat that donut for a good five minutes.

Adam: “Hey, I don’t think I recognise that guy and this is a highly secure area – better take a closer look – oh, wait, he just ducked behind a desk. Nothing to worry about.” This makes it sound like a superb comedy.

Alec: Yeah, I’m half wondering about taking a second pass at it with that mindset, rather than a Blood Money one. It does have a lot more tension than Blood Money though, which was a sort of puzzle game, but that’s because it’s basically Splinter Cell now.

Adam: See, I never played Conviction but, man, so many people are making that connection. And the tension, in my experience, stopped registering long before the end of the game.

Alec: mind you, if Splinter Cell: Subtitle next year turns out to be the open carnage the trailers suggest, perhaps we’ll wind up feeling very grateful for Absolution.

Adam: No. Never. I feel grateful for Streets of Hope though. And a little bit for Contracts.

Alec: We should contract each other at some point.

Adam: Definitely. I really enjoy that aspect but – banging on the same drum again – wish there were more fun playgrounds for it. I’m going to send you a Contract later.

Alec: we’ve been through this – I’m not going to marry you, Adam.

Adam: You protest too much.

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91 Comments »

  1. Hahaha says:

    Never fear, youtube has you covered on the purist playthroughs.

  2. Squirm says:

    Whilst i don’t like the game at all, i feel it’s fairly bad to dismiss the game as badly balanced on higher difficulties. As someone who’s actually played all the games (not just saying they have to gain some quasi-credibility) Purist has been fairly manageable.
    King of china is entirely possible to beat without killing anyone but the target, in quite a few different ways.

    Exploration is the name of the game here, do a quick recon of the (very tiny) maps. infact, king of chinatown is beaten almost solely by just walking forwards, picking up a single disguise, a single item ONE interaction, then you walk out the level. 2-3 minutes it took after the initial 30 mins walking around the level and dying because it’s kind of fun to shoot into crowds….

    Anyway, as much as i think the game is pretty bad, it’d be a shame to spread the idea that a game isn’t “balanced” for the harder modes, just because you can’t do it. People latch onto that sort of thing.

    I have no idea how the instinct meter works though. First thing i did was turn all the HUD options off. I’ve used the point shoot on the first level, where you’re stuffed into a tiny room with 4 guards that stare in your direction, other than that though, i’ve found nothing that can’t be solved by just crouch-walking past the near-blind NPC’s, or just throwing a bottle.

    I’m only a few levels in so far, but is that covering of the face actually required? or just a crutch? What’s the hotkey to activate it?

    • zin33 says:

      im somewhat of a hitman fan as well (the thing i enjoy most doing is clearing a whole level without any alarms or alerts or whatever while killing everyone :p) but what is it you didnt like about absolution that makes you say you “dont like the game at all”?
      i havent played it yet but id love to know :p

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      Luringen says:

      Face-covering is the same button as istinct-mode (ctrl). REALLY annoying when you just want to look around, and someone glances at you for a millisecond, and you lose instinct. It’s disabled at Purist level of course.

    • wiper says:

      Just wait until you get to the later levels. I played through the game on Hard, before finally caving in on the penultimate level and dropping down to normal. And I really, really wish I’d done so from the start – the game really is balanced for ‘Normal’, at least if you want to play it vaguely like a traditional Hitman game; on the higher difficulties it immediately drops your options down to one or two viable options,* with the game’s placing of additional, far more observant guards around the levels designed purely to funnel you into completing the levels in the ‘right’ way – aka. making you play the game like bloody Splinter Cell, rather than a Hitman game.

      Normal at least gives you some range of expression, even though the game still never approaches the highs of Contracts or Blood Money in level design or flexibility, feeling instead as though developers have thrown out all the advances made in the last two Hitmen, and instead run to more generic stealth games for their inspiration. A real shame.

      *beyond killing sprees, that is

      • Uthred says:

        I disagree the games terrible on Normal, which might as well be renamed Easy. Hard or Expert is where you want to be at

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          jrodman says:

          Fill that in with texture and detail, or we have to assume it’s a grognard talking.

    • Adam Smith says:

      It’s not so much about not being able to *do* the harder modes, it’s that some areas are much more of a chore to play without the aids on lower difficulties. When a level is populated almost entirely with people who see through a disguise after a few seconds, instinct becomes increasingly necessary to avoid a bloodbath.

      I’m sure it’s possible to find ways around that but in my experience, and it’s particularly later in the game, they’re not satisfying or engaging. Purist becomes limiting because it takes away options that the levels and NPC placements are designed around.

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    Luringen says:

    I like Absolution, seems like most of the critique it has is that it’s not Blood Money. It’s not as big, it’s not as challenging and it’s very sneaking-based. I think Absolution is a good game, even though it does not always live up to its predecessor.

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      Vesuvius says:

      Most of the critique is that it’s a game whose idea of fun stealth is hide behind the same object for ages and which is ridiculously unforgiving of mistakes. They’ve minimized the sense of freedom of action, of exploration, and of the ability to enjoy and explore environments.

      King of Chinatown for example- they showed that off endlessly in the trailer and acted like it’s a big open level. It’s so simplistic and tiny- it’s got what, 3 side paths, all of which only have one entrance and all but one of which offer pretty much one new way to solve the level. Moreover, if you’re on Expert or higher, the different paths are nearly inaccessible due to redundant guards and long view distances, plus your tiny tiny reserve of “cover your face” power.

      What happened to a room having multiple entrances? to a building having multiple floors? to being able to impersonate someone and hold a conversation in disguise?

      This is a game about waiting and picking someone else’s path- if you deviate you fail, and you know what? Waiting to do the level someone else’s way is boring, feels like a chore at best and punishment at worst. Who wants that in a game?

      • malkav11 says:

        And again, your criticism seems to basically boil down to “it’s not Blood Money”. As someone who’s fairly new to the series (I’ve played a little bit of Hitman 2, but I was using a walkthrough and that doesn’t really evoke the same feeling), levels like King of Chinatown and Terminus really are a playground of possible approaches compared to things like Splinter Cell. Unfortunately, then it inserts levels like Run For Your Life (which, to be fair, is engaging in a couple of the sublevels on a tension-and-atmosphere basis, if not what makes the game really work). And it has awful cheaty cutscenes like the one at the end of Terminus instead of letting you actually make the kill. I’m sure Blood Money is better. Really I am. But failing to be Blood Money is not the same as Absolution being bad. (I’m fairly sure at this stage that it isn’t bad at all, but if it turns out I’m wrong, it’ll be because of the cheating and linear, confined escape levels.)

        • Dahoon says:

          It’s not as much “It’s not Blood Money” as it is “it’s not the same kind of game like the rest of the series”. I’m sure you liked the game, but it is like watching a new Terminator film, where suddenly the Terminators are stealth-bots instead of killing machines. Might be fun -especially to someone who doesn’t know the series- but it has absolutely nothing to do with the other films, except the background storie, looks of the main character(s) and the title. The film itself could as well have been another then. Like this just as well could have been put in the Splinter Cell series instead.

          • malkav11 says:

            But it very much is a game in the same series. It just doesn’t do it quite as well (apparently) as the previous game in the series and it sometimes steps out of character.

            It’s almost like it garroted Hitman and is now wearing its outfit as a disguise.

        • Phantoon says:

          Oblivion isn’t Morrowind.
          Deus Ex: Invisible War is not Deus Ex.
          And this Hitman is not Blood Money.

          Really, the argument is not that it should be the same game, but that it should be as least as good as its predecessor.

          • malkav11 says:

            And, sure, that would be nice, but the thing is, Oblivion was a decent game. Invisible War was a decent game. Neither compares well to its immediate predecessor, but they’re enjoyable experiences that I played to completion, something that’s relatively rare for me given my thousand-plus game collection. Is that suddenly not enough?

          • Emeraude says:

            I think the problem isn’t necessarily being good or bad, but being different, straying too far from the perceived roots. What’s the point of being a gaming franchise if the audience can’t trust the core gameplay elements to follow the same design philosophy and properly iterate and build up from game to game ?

          • Adjuchas says:

            They shouldn’t mess too much with the core of the series. Improving existing features is one thing, but changing core mechanics always upsets, if I want another rose, give me a rose, not a chrisathemum with post-it note on it that says “rose”. Create a new series if you want to do the game differently, if it’s good then people will buy it regardless of the name on the box.

            I’ve not played the game yet, so will reserve judgement on whether or not it’s a good game.

          • malkav11 says:

            As far as I can tell they haven’t messed that much with the core mechanics, though. They’ve tweaked the exact mechanisms by which disguises function, but they’re still there and still mostly work. There are still open levels full of possible routes through and different mechanisms for killing or distracting. There’s still the trademark garrote, suit, silverballers (though you do lose those for a while). Really it’s mostly an issue with smaller levels and some levels losing sight of what makes a good Hitman level.

            Incidentally, I’ve played several levels now and had zero need to use the silly mark-and-shoot “point shooting” function after it was originally introduced. So I’m skeptical of Adam’s WIT on this point.

    • StingingVelvet says:

      If you investigate most disappointing sequels throughout gaming history you will find most of them were just bad sequels, not bad games. Many people expect a sequel to be the same thing and are angry when it is not.

      Honestly a half Hitman/half Splinter Cell game sounds awesome to me.

      • Adam Smith says:

        Absolution could be right up your street then. I don’t think the two aspects slot together very well, although admittedly I haven’t played a Splinter Cell since Chaos Theory so can’t compare to Conviction.

        I know plenty of people who are enjoying Absolution – particularly in Contracts – but even though I do compare it to Blood Money a lot, the problems I had with it aren’t just a case of change being a bad thing.

  4. Paul says:

    It is a decent game and if it had original IP with different hero, I might like it a bit more.But as a hitman game, especially a follow-up to brilliant Blood Money, it fails so hard..

  5. ZIGS says:

    Hitman: Absoluteshit

  6. CommanderZx2 says:

    I find it pretty sad that you blame the game for your inabiltiy to spend time to learn the levels to be able to stealthly complete them on higher difficulty.

    I guess you’d rate Dark Souls low ’cause it’s too hard’! right?

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      Vesuvius says:

      In Blood Money I could learn a level and solve it my own way, I could create a path that was semi-unique, due to the flexible systems.

      Here? Most levels I’ve played so far there’s about 2-4 ways to get SA, often fewer, and there’s no room for deviation. It’s not fun to play “guess the exact path the developer wanted me to take, and fail if I want to do something different”. It’s ESPECIALLY not fun since as you’ve explained in your comment- the only way to even get that far is by repeated failure and trial-and-error.

      In Blood Money I could mill around, case an area with one costume and not move until I had explored the section I currently had access to and figured out some ideas- but there’s no freedom to do even that in Absolution. You hide and wait and hide and wait and crawl. If you’re lucky, you crawl past an item of interest, but short of either investing hours or doing a guns blazing run, you don’t have a chance of being exposed to the different options available on a level.

        • Kadayi says:

          Spot on. There were only ever a few options in BM in truth, especially if you were going for silent assassin. This idea that it’s some great big sand box with hundreds of options is rosy eyed nostalgia getting in the way of reality.

          Also one of the huge criticisms of the series was 47s ability to put on a uniform and somehow remain inconspicuous throughout (‘hey how come no one calls him out?’) . This time they’ve addressed that and suddenly people are pissed about it? There’s no pleasing some people it seems.

          Also gotta love RPS trying to big up Adam as some Hitman guru. When a guy whose reviewing it says things like this: – “there are a lot of levels I’d struggle to cross without killing guards” you have to wonder how much effort he really put in. Bar the introduction level executions I haven’t killed one person outside of the targets yet and I’m not even using disguises.

          • KenTWOu says:

            This time they’ve addressed that and suddenly people are pissed about it? There’s no pleasing some people it seems.

            I like Absolution a lot, I like most of its new ideas, I think it’s one of the best Hitman games. But it seems that IO ruined the balance! Look at this moment (11:50) of E3 RFYL demo. Disguise system works more believable way in terms of distance and time! Now it’s almost completely useless on highest difficulties. I think, they should tweak it as fast as possible.

  7. QualityJeverage says:

    I really, really like the game. I had a nice time with the main story mode, and I’m really enjoying Contracts mode, both creating my own and playing others’.

    I think it really helped that, from the start, I decided that I would avoid trying to compare it to Blood Money and just play the game in front of me. Going at it from that perspective, I had a great time the whole way through. Obviously that’s not your only complaint, you have problems with the overall design and simply think it isn’t a good game, and that’s fine. I can’t do anything but disagree. All I can say is that once I stopped longing for Blood Money, I found one of my favourite games this year.

    That doesn’t mean I think it was without flaw, far from it. I mentioned in a comment on an earlier post that I think the new disguise system is really great, on paper. I like that it doesn’t give you a free pass to walk wherever you want and still requires you to move with some caution and thought. But I think they overdid it, to the point where disguises become useless if you don’t have any instinct, and unless you’re playing on Easy that’s going to be the majority of your time. The endlessly disappointed optimist in me is holding out hope for a patch that tweaks it. Even simple changes like making instinct less scarce, or reducing the distance at which guards will see through your disguise, would go a long way in making it less frustrating and more like the Hitman of old.

    As Adam mentioned in an earlier comment too, the “Professional” difficulties sound like what a veteran Hitman fan would want, but in practice they just take away abilities and help that the game is designed for you to have. It doesn’t end up feeling like a fair or entertaining challenge, it’s just frustrating.

    • Hahaha says:

      What about 47,sa or contracts?

    • Spider Jerusalem says:

      YOU’RE WRONG

    • aepervius says:

      I went the other way around. I played hitman absolution as first hitman game, never heard of the serie before, then saw bloodmoney and bought it for a few euro. I found hitman absolution entertaining, but passable, meaning I did not feel cheated out of my money on the contrary it acted well as entertainment, BUT I will forget the game by next month. And I certainly did not feel like a hitman the whole bloody affair. I felt like Fugitive : absolution the first part. And why the heck do I get MINUS point in the basement level of the orphenage for essentially being FORCED by the game to kill people in SLOW MO and having no way mechanically to avoid it ??? The later part I was more like a hitman, but still. And the disguise mechanic made no bloody sense and felt typically like a break-out-of-immersion mechanic. There is no way siomebody 10 meters away from me would recognize I am not one of the guy of his bands of villain (or from a police station), when they are more than bloody 50 of them roaming around. It felts like the whole system was in there to slow you down as the level were very small. One level is barely a stair and a 10m corridor with something like 6 or 8 policemen looking for a women corpse.I started playing blood money *after* absolution and by jove it is a totally different level. I *DO* feel like a hitman. I *DO* feel like I am taking a contract on somebody. I can certainly see why absolution feels like an extremly poor “hitman” game in comparison.

  8. Baal_Sagoth says:

    What an interesting read. Thanks for chiming in once more. I finally just bought the damn thing – mainly because Agent 47 and myself, we go way back and I just have to know for myself. I still love the character and I’ve got a feeling I’ll like the exploitative elements more than most. Then again, I’ll probaly despise the “modern” trappings much more than the average player, so we’ll see if any good comes from my decision. Worst comes to worst, this’ll be the last Hitman game I buy – especially with the news of various studios doing future installments.
    At this point I still hope for the best though. I didn’t regret my purchase of Kane & Lynch at all for what that’s worth. Only time will tell.

  9. WoundedBum says:

    Would have liked to see some Contracts discussion.

    I think you’re mostly right though, although I really think there is more good here, than you do (obviously your opinion of course), though most of that is encouragement for the next game. The crappy checkpoint system and smaller levels are symptoms of console limitations (well, so the developers say) and the Streets of Hope level seems quite lovely, even the Attack of the Saints is quite fun. I think they know what makes a good Hitman game, at least in terms of gameplay, but I think they fell down trying to get it across. You make the Splinter Cell comparison, but speaking of that series it doesn’t feel like as much a depature as Conviction did.

  10. Slinkyboy says:

    What about the Movie?!

  11. Heliocentric says:

    “Tarantino, but lack the self-awareness.”
    Tarantino then..

    Additionally, Conviction apologist here, the campaign was a turd sandwich but the deniable ops skirmish mode was a thing of beauty.

    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      If you think Tarantino lacks self-awareness, you really need to watch the ending of Basterds again.

      • Phantoon says:

        It’s not like he doesn’t know he has the ego- his movies are dedicated to “LOOK! LOOK AT MY MASSIVE EGO! ISN’T IT BIG?”

    • Ruffian says:

      Uhhh, I could be wrong, but I took the comment about Tarintino’s self awareness as a reference to the fact that most of his movies are generally loose parodies of certain genres. aka. kung fu movies, and old westerns, B-movies, exploitation flicks. His movies revel in their own cheesiness, and as such are self aware, in a way.

  12. grable says:

    Its not like the Hitman i used to know sadly :(
    with its cover system and awkward control sceme it feels a little off to be honest.
    Like the fucking quicktime event based close combat fighting, its not fun at all.

    But, im just on level 2 so im hoping il get into it after a while.

    • KenTWOu says:

      Awkward control scheme? Old Hitmans don’t have control scheme at all if you compare them with Absolution.

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    Vesuvius says:

    As someone else who has played all the other Hitman games, and beaten every level on every one of them on Silent Assassin- no- Absolution isn’t fun at all. There’s no exploration, no poking at systems and no clever moments. And there’s fewer ways to create accidental deaths as well. But the biggest shortcoming is how narrowly you must tread each pre-determined path to victory, and how little tolerance there is in the game for the slightest mis-step or deviation.

    The only way I can learn the levels to even have a fighting chance on Expert difficulty is by going Rambo half the time so I can then go back and see how things link together. Moreover, the article above is correct- this game is designed in such a way that you get to spend most of your time hiding behind a fucking rock waiting for the rare moment when 4 guards have just barely split apart after a long scripted conversation, and if you time it ever so slightly wrong, you get to restart the entire level or have a major shoot-out.

    Oh, and don’t get me started on the fact that the game is littered with imbecilic Quicktime events and hammer-the-button moments. I HATE having to mash the Q key to non-lethally take someone down, and because my reflexes for Q, W, E, and other keys aren’t fast enough, I can’t melee fight an assailant without definitely losing the level. If those fights were based on blocking and hitting, and what you did corresponded to defined keys, I’d be fine- but this arbitrary button mash ruins yet another of the game mechanics for me.

    Such a let-down.

    PS- Don’t get me started on “run for your life”, where a police officer on a balcony 200-300 feet away in a darkened room can see through my disguise in 4 seconds. Boy that was fun.

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    Chaz says:

    Codename 47 is starting to look like a leaner meaner version of Montalbano; that’s my new favourite detective show.

  15. noodlecake says:

    Splinter Cell Conviction is much better at doing what Splinter Cell Conviction does than this game is.

    • woodsey says:

      Yes. Conviction, whilst a rubbish Splinter Cell, at least managed to be a halfway-decent ‘stealth’-actioner. Absolution is both a shit Hitman and a not-very-good game in general. Imbalanced and woefully irritating at every step.

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        strangeloup says:

        I feel slightly bad for admitting it, but I think I had more fun with Conviction than the more Splinter-Celly Splinter Cells. Possibly because I’m really hit and miss with whether I’m any good at a stealth game or not, and SC was one of the ones I was pretty terrible at.

    • noodlecake says:

      I keep hearing that but I don’t get it. I thought it was a very tight game. Perfectly crafted and well thought out. It’s the first Splinter Cell game that I actually found enjoyable to play. The only thing that ruined it was the flashbacks. It’s the closest to a 24 game that’s ever been made, and it does a great job of it.

      • malkav11 says:

        Already we forget there was an actual licensed 24 game made. Tsk tsk.

        (From what I hear it was awful.)

  16. Chandos says:

    I was excited about this one but I think I’ll pass. Maybe the next Thief game will be the one.

  17. Corrupt_Tiki says:

    I was happy. And then I read all the WIT about Absolution.
    Now I am sad.

    I must replay Blood Money for the umpteenth time.

  18. the_tyrant says:

    You know what, I have to say, I love absolution.

    BUT, it has ONE major problem. And that is the disguises system (which to be honest, blood money had exactly the same problem, just to the opposite direction).

    In blood money, when a big bald guy with a barcode who doesn’t even remotely look like the guy he is trying to impersonate manages to trick everyone simply because he is wearing the right set of clothes, I face palm. I was thinking, are you people really so damned stupid?!

    In absolution, when a cop recognizes that you aren’t really a cop from 50 feet away, I pound the table and scream ARE YOU @&$%in KIDDING ME!!!! Somehow these cops know EVERY SINGLE OTHER COP IN THE CITY?

    Well how should the devs fix it? Make it so that the guards will recognize you, but only if you walk close to them. And, make it so that if you are trying to impersonate someone from a smaller group, you will get caught easier than if you are trying to impersonate someone from a larger group.

    I congratulate the hitman team for trying this, other games like splinter cell, dishonored and assassin’s creed don’t even try to have a disguise system but I also think that this mechanic needs a LOT of work. Please fix it for the next hitman!

    • AJ_Wings says:

      I agree. The disguise system in Absolution has a fundamentally great idea within it, it’s just that the execution is so bad that makes really hard for me to go back to Absolution.

      IO didn’t create an easier, more accessible game than Blood Money. They made a more frustrating and unnecessarily difficult game. I love surveying and exploring the huge environments and then set up my plan in motion. This was my favorite part in Blood Money.

      I still have faith in the series. If SE Montreal managed to find the right balance in the AI systems, fix the disguise mechanic and brought back the huge sprawling levels in the next Hitman it may be the best in the series.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Well how should the devs fix it? Make it so that the guards will recognize you, but only if you walk close to them.

      This is how it works in Hitman 2.

      Also, it’s a bit of a weak handwave, but it does exist as a “shh, stop thinking about it and just enjoy” one: 47 is supposedly meant to have a very generic, blend-in, forgettable face that doesn’t really look like any given nationality or anything.

      • malkav11 says:

        As someone who has only previously played Hitman 2, I was very confused by people talking about disguises having been made weaker. Absolution’s disguises are far more effective in that -if- you can find one that doesn’t have counterparts all over the level, you can waltz around much of the level without a care, whereas you’ll always have to be careful around folks in Hitman 2 – the disguise is just how you avoid getting shot on sight in contexts where you are very much not allowed. I had no idea that Blood Money had changed anything.

        • Koozer says:

          Blood Money made it more forgiving in how long you could stand near people before they started getting suspicious. Maybe it depended on their type, I can’t remember. I do remember the level in which you had to kill a state witness under guard of the FBI in his house, and the agents get very suspicious if you hang around near them in an FBI suit.

  19. Tukuturi says:

    The Hitman series never clicked for me, despite trying to get into it several times. It always felt less like a tense stealth assassination game and more like an irritating puzzle game. I could barely tell the difference between the first Hitman game and that game where you stand in a tub of water and maneuver a metal rod through an electrified wire maze.

    Considering everyone who loved the earlier Hitman games has been disappointed by this one, I’m thinking maybe I’ll enjoy it.

    • Hahaha says:

      They don’t though, people who enjoyed blood money don’t like it the few people to compare it to the early hitman games seem to think it’s not bad.

  20. noom says:

    “… people seem to just appear from nowhere while I’m dragging a man in his underwear into a cupboard.”

    And in the game.

  21. Demiath says:

    I haven’t played a Hitman game before so I’m a bit surprised by the suggestion that the other games in the series are not unforgiving, “puzzle-oriented” stealth games in the way that Absolution is. I get that there are specific criticisms of things like the implementation of disguises and the size of the levels, but if the latest title somehow deviates on a much more fundamental level from the core design philosophies of the series as a whole then I guess I’ve never really known what a Hitman game actually is…

    • LionsPhil says:

      If you’re going for Silent Assassin, they’re like that, although more forgiving in that they have savegames.

      Even if those savegames are stupidly, stupidly, stupidly limited, or even more stupidly, temporary.

      • Kadayi says:

        You can only save a couple of times though Phil. Sure it’s not entirely the same as check pointing, but it’s not far off.

        • malkav11 says:

          And the levels are larger (not that that’s not a good thing, generally speaking), which means the limited saving still has a very good chance of making you repeat large sections of gameplay.

  22. SuperNashwanPower says:

    I love the bromance at the end of the article

  23. StingingVelvet says:

    The massive insufferable pretentiousness and elitism RPS has always had a bit of is seriously beginning to drip off every article like an oozing leak in a barrel. I am sure many will disagree, but that’s just how I feel. It seriously makes me not want to check the site anymore, let alone daily as I used to do.

    Whether that is all a problem on my end or a real concern is for others to decide. All I can do is write how I feel about it.

  24. StingingVelvet says:

    Also, anyone who wants a real Hitman game should play Death to Spies: Moment of Truth. That game is a better Hitman game than any other.

  25. yogibbear says:

    I actually REALLY REALLY like the game. I mean… killing someone via electrocution while they’re taking a piss. GENIOUS! I DON’T CARE WOT U THINK. Game is awesome. Silent assassin is still fun, you just now have to play “hunt the least numerous disguise that gets me the most access” before you can go all accidental kill / prop kill fun times. HINT: if you seen a map filled with goons, don’t disguise as a goon.

  26. Iskariot says:

    “I like the point-scoring more than I’d expected.”
    -
    I do not like it at all. I care about realistic objectives and immersion. I can not imagine a hitman who is counting some kind of points. If I fuck up I want the game to react realistically: guards are attracted, alarms go off, someone releases dogs, some approaches get closed off, or… you get paid less, or your profile gets to high so some people do not want to sell you weapons, stuff like that. I could not care less about points. If I kill guards, than that is what I do. Who cares when imagined points are subtracted from some imagined amount of maximum points.

    • woodsey says:

      I found it inoffensive. I couldn’t work out why it was there particularly, the old games used to do it at the end of a mission, which was quite enjoyable. Seeing the points tally up or down every time you do anything becomes annoying. (Especially when it’s ‘YOU HAVE BEEN DISCOVERED! -1000 POINTS!’ when all you’ve done is put a foot inside an unmarked ‘Trespass’ zone.)

      The problem with the system is it seems fairly illogical. I was pushed into murdering everyone in one level (for the umpteenth time, because that’s what every bloody mission seems to eventually descend into), but by the end of it I had a Silent Assassin rating which I only lost for being discovered at the very last second before pressing ‘exit’.

    • Pajama says:

      I have two theories, one: Mr. 47 is so used to getting paid that he consistently counts anything he does as a sort of “bonus” or “pay check” that he would normally get from the agency. Obviously, kililng a tourist is bad and would come off of his paycheck, but if no one knew the balance would level out. Killing the target via a spectacular, loud way would give less money then killing him in a accidental, quiet way. Really simple.

      Second: It’s a game. The reason your coin’s are counted in Mario is so that player’s can actively go “OH HO, I GOT ALL THE COINS ON THIS LEVEL AND YOU DIDN’T” or to get a new life in some cases. That is what made arcades popular, if you got the highscore everyone would look up to you.

  27. Kefren says:

    Skipped through this, saw a reference to ‘Blood Money’, ears pricked up – I recently replayed it, completing it for the 5th time. Then I realised it wasn’t a reference to my favourite co-op Amiga shoot -em up.

  28. Crazy Horse says:

    Hitman series is old enough to evoke nostalgia and no sequel can stand before the might of nostalgia.

    • woodsey says:

      Along with the likes of Deus Ex, Blood Money is one of those games that someone reinstalls whenever its mentioned. Add on to that Blood Money was a release for the beginning of this generation and no, the series hasn’t been gone long enough for that to be an excuse.

      • Hahaha says:

        nice

        blood money,blood money,blood money,blood money,blood money,blood money,blood money,blood money,blood money,blood money,blood money,blood money,blood money,blood money,blood money,blood money,blood money,blood money,blood money,blood money,blood money,blood money,blood money,blood money,blood money,blood money,blood money,blood money,blood money,blood money,blood money,blood money,blood money,blood money,blood money,blood money,blood money,blood money,blood money,blood money,blood money,blood money,blood money,blood money,blood money,blood money,blood money,blood money,blood money,blood money,blood money,blood money,blood money,blood money,blood money,blood money,blood money,blood money,blood money,blood money,blood money,blood money,blood money,blood money,blood money,blood money,blood money,blood money,blood money,blood money,blood money,blood money,blood money,blood money,blood money,blood money,blood money,blood money,blood money,blood money,blood money,blood money,blood money,blood money,blood money,blood money,blood money,blood money,blood money,blood money,blood money,blood money,blood money,blood money,blood money,blood money,blood money,blood money,blood money,blood money,blood money,blood money,blood money,blood money,blood money

        Should keep them occupied for a day

      • LionsPhil says:

        All this Absolution discussion made me dust off Hitman 2 again.

        And replay it from the start due to the stupid machine-fragile savegames, but at least I’m succeeding at the every-level-must-be-Silent-Assassin challenge.

        (Must try a no-reloading-unless-you-die-live-with-your-mistakes one too, but I suspect every level will end in a massacre.)

  29. methylene blue says:

    Stylistically (sound, visuals, “feel”), the game is brilliant. There is no overcoming the inherent hokiness of the Hitman premise, but it’s admirable and a little bonkers that the director listed Wild at Heart as a formative cinematic influence. Similarly hyperviolent, hypersexual surrealism is on display here–garish, neon-soaked color palettes, characters that push the envelope in terms of sadism and misogyny. This is a scarily well-realized world. IO increasingly represents the “weird, polarizing” end of the mainstream–the critical lashing given to Kane & Lynch 2, arguably their first all-out masterpiece, confirms this. It’s a position that could suit them well. They are not evolving the “stealth genre” or whatever, but in terms of aesthetics, they blow pretty much everyone out of the water.

  30. Bobtree says:

    I hate the new permanently scowling ugly character model. Even Timothy Olyphant looked better.

    HITMANFACE!

  31. Sardukar says:

    Played the first level so far – preliminary impression is that it’s a pretty fun cross between Hitman and Splinter Cell. Which I like! Lots of humour, and lots of challenge on Purist mode.

    Right now I kill people because sometimes it’s funny and don’t feel penalized, as I did if I was trying for Silent Assassin rating. Death By Book!

    Just replayed Blood Money and….not as good as I recalled. Lots of AI glitches, oddball responses to my actions and punishments for going off one of the several “approved” routes, like detonating a bomb to distract at the start of the White House level.

    Purist makes a lot of this silliness from lower levels disappear and the game is fun. The disguise thing…makes sense, unfortunately. Always bothered me that I could sneak past guards or house cleaners and none of them had issues with this big bald tattooed guy. Too bad the face-hide is so dumb.

    Anyway, off to replay the first level and try not to kill anyone this time. Not even with my beloved Book of Doom.

    • Phantoon says:

      But the fix for A Dumb Thing is not A Dumber Thing.

      • Sardukar says:

        I disagree that Absolution, on the whole, is a “Dumber Thing”. It’s different, yes, but fun. Quite fun.

        I’m not really disappointed, because I’d written off Hitman for years, with nothing new coming out. Sure, it could be much better, but I’m sneaking through areas planning how to kill people in interesting ways and get away with it.

        Things like the face-hide are disappointing, but so far are more than balanced by the dialogue, the visuals and the humour.

        Now, if I hadn’t played Dishonored or Mark of the Ninja already this, year, would I be more critical? Maybe. Fortunately, it’s been a good year for stealth games, so I feel free to Book people and not look back.

  32. soapmak3r says:

    I’ll start off by saying up front that this is my first Hitman game. I just finished it this evening. There are so many games that I don’t enjoy and struggle through to the end (like Assasins Creed 1+2, or Mass effect 3), or just abandon all together because they just aren’t fun.
    I found this game a lot of fun, and I kept coming back until I had beat the SP campaign, and will keep coming back to play the contracts mode and improve my hitman skills and scores. Most of the time, my attempted hits turned into massive bloodbaths, usually because I was impatient, or because I was wearing the wrong disguise and didn’t stay out of sight.

    When things turned into a massacre, I thought to myself “That’s ok, I can play this level again, but differently the next time”. Next time…See, most single player games I play, then forget about and generally never play again. This game, I find myself wanting to come back and play it, find new ways to play it, master etc. There is a lot of challenge there, and it’s compelling.

    Disguises work fine. You just have to find a disguise that won’t get you sprung as easily. I found that each level usually has at least one unique disguise that allows you free reign of a level, or at least most areas of it.
    The story was deliberately ham-fisted and tongue-in-cheek and the sections people are complaining about are either very short and inconsequential, or they can be approaching in a completely different way (the quick-time event wrestling match could be done in multiple ways).

    I will make a point of playing Blood Money now, as I have it on Steam, but as a noob to the series, I had no problems with Absolution at all. It offered many different ways to complete objectives, and the firefights were very engaging and satisfying thanks to great animations, ragdoll physics and an amazing visual engine in general.

    I thought it was excellent, as well as being one of the best looking games I have ever played, and very well optimized too.
    It ran on average at 100fps on my HD5850 and i5 2500K, at 1080p on the highest settings, bar MSAA.

    • Pajama says:

      To bring this up, you can actually do the wrestling mission by shooting Sanchez in the head once and letting the wrestler hit him, causing a accidental death [I guess the bullet got stuck and a good jab in the skull finishes it's journey] or twice to permanently KO the guy. In the King of China Town, there are several times you can kill the King on his route around, poisoning the drugs in the dealer’s apartment is a “accidental” death, or the pack, or you can hit his car and kill him when he comes to check it, or snipe him from the dealer’s apartment or poison his unsanitary food. Either way, that is a lot for a semi small [by blood money standards] level and there is no loss of creativity.

  33. Pajama says:

    I feel like the biggest complaint is that it isn’t “Hitman Blood Money 2″ and is [vastly] different from it’s predecessors. It is a bad sequel but I find it to be a competently or good game. The gunplay is fairly good and stealth can be quite fast paced, as opposed to waiting for X guy to walk to Y spot so you can push a lever down to cause a bomb to appear beneath his feet [Ironically that is a option to kill someone here] and I enjoy it.

    From a stealth perspective, it really only has to fight two series to fight with, Assassin’s Creed and Splinter Cell. For one thing, it is very quite like Assassin’s Creed however has the forgive-fullness of early Splinter Cell games [which didn't really have any] so it makes a nice “Easy to pick up, hard to master] type of curve. You can play it reckless using up a lot of Instinct or you could take it slow using up very low amounts. Could turn any situation into a gunfight or slowly steal a key off of a well killed guard. The slow and steady root does exist, for example, on your second trip to Chinatown when you have to kill off three goons, two can be killed via the environment. One can be killed by stealing the Birdy file when he goes to meet a crooked cop, the other can be killed by his smoking. After cutting the fuel tank he is standing in the blaze will touch his lungs like all the smoke and fire around him. To say the game doesn’t have a slow and steady route is a bit silly, however there are plenty of opportunities where you can run and gun if you so please. However the stealth stands on it’s own for frankensteining a lot of elements from the old series with games like Arkham Asylum [Instinct], fast paced gameplay from Assassin’s Creed and cover from Conviction. While this can end in mixed results [Disguises really not that useful, lack of big levels, annoying cover controls] I think it still works well.

    From a sequel perspective, it is a let down. The missions aren’t based in interesting locales or around intriguing characters, instead your told to go kill a dude for some plot reason you probably don’t care about. It carries it’s story nicely however can be a bit ridiculous at times.

    Honestly, I think it stands head over heels over Dishonored which I absolutely despise for essentially punishing stealth gameplay with a complete lack of versatility and this manages to allow a lot of different approaches to every situation that depends on play style [avoid the goons by sneaking pas them during their meeting, put on a naughty movie to distract guards, throw knife into skull to kill guard without wasting a bullet, throw mallet into bin to make loud noise attracting guard towards bin located under heavy objects which you shoot to kill target] and really it all depends on what you want from it, a decent, fun and long lasting stealth game [contracts] or Blood Money 2, the latter you won’t find but the former is great fun that I would recommend for a cheap price during a sale.

    • KenTWOu says:

      Hitman:Absolution blows Dishonored out of the water. IMHO It has better stealth, more compelling AI, it provides better challenge and replayability, because of challenge system, which is brilliant! It’s a very good assassin sim. I’ve bought this game with ‘Mark of the Ninja’ and after these infamous reviews I thought I’ll forget about Absolution. I was wrong, both games are equally good almost fantastic for me.