Hitman Absolution played by a stealth N00b [PC gaming review]

OK, let’s just first of all get some things understood:

1. I am not a fan of the Hitman franchise, I tried it twice before and didn’t like it.
2. I generally don’t like stealth games – but I do enjoy a somewhat silent approach.
3. This text will have some random spoilers so consider yourself warned!

So, after playing sniper challenge a bit I felt that OK, this game might actually be nice to play on PC. Well, the sniper challenge was and once starting the Absolution game, i found it to be different. The sniping didn’t feel like the challenge game and the controls felt somewhat sloppier and the game play felt just like any behind the shoulder Xbox game out there. Now I may be off on cue here since I haven’t played the previous titles but I believe one title I did try out had me somewhat more zoomed out from the Hitman. Anyway, it works but doesn’t feel like a PC title that’s for sure. Still a decent to play multiplatformer. The controls are OK, the graphics are OK – until you hit the cut scenes which looks like ugly ass rendered stuff in 320×240 from the beginning of the era of PC gaming. Not really, but it is damn ugly and the in-game stuff is far better than the renditions here.

So, the game. Did I found it hard to play with fetish clad latex nuns running around? No.
Did it bothered me? Nope.
How was that level? In my mind – it was the best level of them all – running around from the Hawaiian theme hotel into the cornfield and garroting people as a strawman. Great fun. Latex nuns – oh please. This entire setup is wrong. You can’t go PK crazy over one detail and chose to remove the rest of the extraordinary weirdness going on here. Now, do you think that there is something wrong with people into bondage and leather and latex and such eh? Bigot much do we – have our prejudice out in the open eh? Well, let’s just leave that topic. For me personally I didn’t find the leather nuns offensive and I found that part of the game to be one of the funnier to play. Why? I guess the space and the options felt more OK. In other parts of the game it felt like I was stumbling unto several options and none made me any wiser. It takes some time to get into the right mind of these games. Now there are a few things we need to start addressing seriously though.

Gaming vs immersion
See, I felt that the game was OK – I made my first assassination and felt happy about it, no one got me – but that wasn’t the entire thing. No, in the end I saw that I was crap compared to just about everyone and that I hadn’t unlocked several items. Now, sorry, but I thought I played a part in a story here. I didn’t know you should go around and pick up every loose object in the game to get achievements and stuff. Oh, and steal people’s clothing, and obviously knocking them out and even though that is bad for the assassin code… oh I get it.

R E P L A Y A B I L I T Y

Seriously, a few time, I did try to replay some missions but never really unlocked any of the play-style’s, only got a decent score – like sub par the average and unlocked some dog bones, syringes and scissors and stones. Never got to find that paper though I did find some evidence. What evidence THE “evidence” you dumb-nut! See, Now I told you things like the game tells you things. You start out sneaking and the game tells you that you didn’t do the hit like the ice-cone man with the bird in the Cluedo room – alas – you are 25k behind the average of your country dude – by the way do you like the game? No, I’m starting to be split about being depressed about it and wanting to go silverballing your Danish asses!
So after you finally decided to go for the story – with a few replays where you did real bad – the game is now done. Over and finished with. Were I immersed – yes, during the intro. That felt intense and I did shoot the garden ornament and thought I would get something for that – but nope – the game simply don’t play and feel like sniper challenge. I was a bit bummed over that. Anyway, I did shoot some ducks, but since I didn’t get any indication that I was onto something – I just skipped it. I mean seriously – assassins shooting rubberducks on mission? Right?
Back to the story, the ugly cut scenes and the story has to deliver right? I mean the game makes it that you should be some sort of übermensch, never doing anything wrong, always predicting things and understand especially new game play events – like fist fighting. I got attacked in a bar brawl and hadn’t the fatest idea that I had gotten into a timed event thing. Well, a few retry’s and I got an achievement – again for doing the game. Wow – but honestly – in games with a story – I really fucking hate achievements  Well, so the übermensch – he sees everything and so on, but he doesn’t understand he is walking into a water-trap but I do. Well, more or less all the story – end up imprisoned – are quit stupid and not really something that you would have expected from the game play side of it. The story becomes pretty chopped up, a bit uncompelling and pretty much over-exagerated with time. It is over the top to begin with – but in the beginning – it feels OK to drum the message about the stone cold kick-ass hitman – but the enemies are really over the top in the end and the cliché war is starting.

It is not just story however that is important in Absolution. We get that pretty quickly thanks to the constant pop-up of achievements and ratings in the end of every fricking part of the story and load times. No it is the level design and the gameplay mechanics that Absolution is really relying on. And how are they? Well, as varied as the story I’m afraid. Since the game has some new mechanics to make it easier for people like me – the instinct mode – some die-hard fans are crying their hearts out. Well, just don’t use it. In the end – it is your experience and the tools available doesn’t mean you have to use them just because you can. But who am I addressing – the worst possible audience for self-restraint… Furthermore, the assassin has some tools to aid him, his signature handguns – which is a dangerous name cause you would believe he would get the signature kills for that but nope. Strangling and accidents only. You have your trusted garott-wire, then it is up to the environment and level. Enemies drop weapons, you can also find them spread around here and there. You have all sorts of loose items either for throwing/distracting to do some funny/silly killings with. But since you shouldn’t kill anyone, and only the targets and only with signature kills – why so much debris? Anyway, the levels give you some puzzles to figure out. There is a right way and a wrong way to do things in most areas. You just have to figure it all out. This is the weak part when coming from a game like Dishonored where you could go ape-shit in figuring out YOUR way to deal with things and still get a lot of satisfaction from it. I felt that in Absolution I was only happy to do something that gave me a high score since I saw that immediately. In Dishonored I had to decide whether the outcome of an action was satisfactory due to the experience of doing it and figuring it out. So the environment is more like a puzzle and the solutions are given, just not straight away. This is OK and especially since you have the go back to any chapter and replay it to fix your scores and tick off some more achievements and unlocks. But it really feels like the story part is a game to learn a few tricks to then play the game in multiplayer brag-rights yet on your own trying to beat the score. This doesn’t lure me one bit I’m afraid. I like to try out some other people’s missions and do the hits – but the score boards just work as a deterrent for me to actually enjoy the game. Different tastes I guess.

So the game mechanics, we have stumbled upon a few of them already. The controls are OK, much better than for example Max Payne and Alan Wake. A bit like the Batman games. You can only walk and some sort of crouch-running so you take your sweat time getting somewhere and replaying some of the areas over and over – the transportation even in the small areas are boring. The controls and the action of getting your stunts works pretty OK. The worst thing is the attacking from crouched in hiding mode – which the game tells you can do – but this has led to the most disappointing game events for me. Instead of snatching an unwary guard from a corner – karate-chop him unconscious and stowing him away in a cupboard that I have carefully hid close to – I kind gets up in a sat my pants position and then moving fumbling to get him and failing – why the guard is calling out “Sir…?” and finally I get him and every guard comes running, everyone sees it and I have despite the karateing and stowing away received a -1000 points cause the guard saw me. Sorry, but “I” would have made a better job of it. This gets annoying since you may be some damned 35 minutes or so away from your last save control point. Yes, this is one of those games where you are led by the nostril around everything but then someone remembered that it should be difficult and annoying and on consoles so you get no save – only a few limited control points. And that is another pain in the ass.
Reloading a control point made me stand in front of a judge and jury with my guns drawn instead of sheathed, and while I traded a comment with my wife – I suddenly had a huge fire fight going on the screen. Great. Other times I reloaded a check point only to find two guards I had previously taken care of re-spawned behind me. Pretty sloppy and pretty bad control points in some cases makes this a bad choice of mechanic to use in my opinion. Better to keep the die-hard mechanics for the die-hard difficulty modes if you must use them.

SCORES

Graphics – 18. While not an ugly game, it doesn’t break any new grounds and the mix between the game and the really ugly cut scenes makes this game deserving of nothing better than the 18 score. It is decent and works pretty smooth on a GFX 660 TI card. But it isn’t something spectacular and the characters look a bit quirky and moves a bit static. It could easily have been better, but it works. Best graphics is the open desert where you can blow up Lenny. Too bad that the crowded street levels don’t work as well.
Sound – 22 This is where Absolution makes up a lot. The game has a good score, bombastic little tune that it fires off once in a while making the bad cut scenes actually get some power. The steps, the dialogues and the voices for this game is pretty much what makes the game worthwhile the time. Too bad many other aspects didn’t follow suite.
Game-play/Story – 15 The lack of getting immersed into the story and the overall überness takes a lot away from making this game fun for me. I guess that if you are more competitive, you may like this a lot more than I do. The story is OK, have a few gaps and feels a bit blend at times. The game plays OK, but there are contradictions in the story to what you can pull off in the game.
Controls/Quality – 17 While the game lets you change the controls as you see fit, not everything can be easily bound, nor understood. That the game points to a key not bound but to the default key in the intro is a bit sloppy. Thankfully the timed events are correct, and later in the game you get the hints correctly.The only real problem is the camera shift – doesn’t really change that much and of course the fighting and the use of timed events at all… Controlling the Hitman is fairly easy but getting a highlight on an item can sometimes be really frustrating making you miss a critical thing or snatching up evidence without getting your cover blown etc. You have some settings to tweak around with and for a multi platform game – I guess it is almost as good as it gets. Not stellar but serves most of its purpose. For the one preferring to slouch in the couch and slobbing Doritos on your belly 😉 and playing in 50″ – the game of course supports the Xbox 360 controller.

Total score: 72 While doing many things correct, the game doesn’t really feel like a complete game. In the end it feels like a chopped up experience. I would have preferred to have a more immense single player campaign without the score and unlocks visible begging me to play it once more. It distracted me a lot. Few games lately have gotten this correctly from an older player perspective, but I guess that achievements and unlocks are the fav right now, but it really really destroys the single player feeling. I would say that if you like competitive play and want to compare and boast off your achievements – this is a game for you. After the end game there is really a lot to do and unlock should you wish to. Me, I didn’t really feel up to is and a 25 hour Single Player campaign later – I didn’t even want to brush up my achievement list or unlocks. I am quite done with bald-headed barcoded Hitman.

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About sketchywolf

sketchywolf(aka Foolwolf) is a blog where I will try different hobbies and document them on. Certain ramblings and may even start some story writing etc. I will also try to have a collection of my reviews of all things that I try and wants to share...
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