on November 20, 2012
I've been a fan of the Hitman games since the 2nd, silent assassin. Since when I was aged 12 and couldn't really get a silent assassin rating, nor understand what the game was really about. Yet I loved it, and ended up getting the others as they followed. The last game we played would have been Bloodmoney, that was an enjoyable game and thus I looked quite forward to this one.
Onto the game.
I was worried like many fans the game had gone all linear and perhaps had been dumbed down, but sadly this was all correct.
Where to start, I guess the menu. There are a nice number of options with which the player can configure Absolution. From turning off all of the tips and helpers when using Instincts to changing what thumb stick is to enter sneak. There's also several other things you can check such as your statistics, challenges, and safe house which isn't an actual safe house but the place where you can check all your weapons, upgrades, disguises, techniques etc.
I'm sure for the PC these options could only have tripled for performance settings. Sadly a mini map, score meter, and a number of other arcade and immersion breaking things are stuck on the screen unless you play the hardest difficulty.
- The controls. They aren't exactly the same as I remember but 6 years since the last game, they have been dumbed down for the masses. You click left stick to go into 1 simplistic sneak rather than LT/L2 to crouch/sneak slowly, or sneak fast. Streamlined is the word. Putting your weapon away is going into a weapon wheel and pressing down to holster, not nice and simple like the last games. You can't hold a big gun in your left hand anymore whilst using a pistol etc.
- Taking cover is now an option by pressing B when 47's near something that he can hide against. It feels a bit tacky, watching as the gun floats from one hand to the other when changing direction and such, you can blindfire though.
- Shooting, the big part of any Hitman game has been refined and in the process, ruined, instead of just shooting by pressing shoot and having good accuracy, you now hold LT to beam down the sight, or almost into 47's head, and strangely have less accuracy! at close range you can aim at someones head and not hit them, or with a assault rifle from cover and still end up being on the receiving end, ridiculous. The bottom line is shooting people feels bland and inconsistent.
- Instincts, personally I'm not really using this as I'm playing it on purist mode with all tips switched off. But from what I can tell, it's xray vision for cod players and teenagers, an audience grabber for higher sales, the whole game is which IO Interactive/Enix admitted, and the reason why the game didn't sell well. Remember the overview map from past games which was done via looking at a GPS type device, it tore you from the game whilst leaving you vulnerable, which balanced the game, a penalty for seeing everyone, now it's too easy and on the go for kids. It shows what targets are in the vicinity along with points of interest and pre-determined paths, which despite being able to be turned off becomes a useless feature as the screen will go monotone for no reason. Remember if you want a more challenging or more realistic approach, you can turn this off by playing Purist mode or via the options. But still a demeaning feature for a game series that is about thinking and planning, along with realism.
- CQC, close quarters combat has indeed been improved, in the last game, 47 would (quite comically to me) headbutt people with his bald head and leave them moaning in pain, or punch them over. Now they further this, you can again disarm people simply by pressing X, or you may enter a freeze frame series of quick time events, where you must push upto 3 buttons as they appear. It looks cool but CQC often never ends well in any game unless you're Ryu in Shenmue, in which case walking down a street angry and breaking all the thugs with timed buttons is just perfect. In Hitman however it's stupid, get a button wrong or slightly too late and it ends up a comical muppets back and forth punching til one is "dead".
Sadly you can no longer push the target forward, nor kneel on them on the ground to reload either during hostage taking (which I thought was creative) once you run out of bullets you may as well rid the shield. Those options plus the option to kill or knockout the human shield would have been good.
- Level design, this has been of much debate towards the release, and the cause of much worry for fans. Are the levels still open squared sandboxed with which you can roam. Or are they linear Splinter cell A-B types.
The answer is, they are pretty much linear..it's true.
One or two of the levels can be rectangular meaning you have an open area but must proceed in a direction to reach a target. This isn't necessarily bad, it just means you will need to put your skills to the test to get there. Some of them are more like squares placed near or on top of each other. The levels are broken down into smaller segments, and upon getting through them you cannot go back. Another big game breaker, it makes the levels feel small and gameplay unrealistic. This was never the case in previous games.
Yet another big problem is about half the games targets you finally get to after hard work sneaking and such, they are cutscenes of 47 somehow messing it up and getting in trouble.. Another thing not in previous games. It should go on the rails or into a cutscene! The final target is even a cutscene, removing many times any satisfaction of finally getting to a annoying character. The end of bloodmoney gave you the satisfaction of how to deal with any target.
- Disguises, here's you guessed it, another big problem. You can be wearing a disguise that covers your whole body almost, yet at the end of a corridor, a person will see the back you briefly and be alerted.. Very stupid and unlike previous games which gave you room the plan and use a disguise, unless you stood in front of someone for too long or acted suspiciously. Even taking a masked disguise, you cannot wear the mask..how silly.
- Animations, they are okay. But some are fake sadly, 47 gets a gun out his jacket, but in putting it away it disappears. You can snipe someone then hide a sniper rifle in your jacket. The gun floats from hand to hand during wall hug movement, he doesn't put a silencer on or take it off the gun, it magically appears and disappears..
There's no longer a list for several things you're standing next to (Drag body, take disguise, take gun) now big colourful arcade like buttons appear on the screen, another bad move, gearing the game towards kids.
- Difficulties, they come in 5 different ones and are clear in how they differ. This is a very important move because, being a game which now caters for both the more casual gamer and the hardcore fans, there needs to be several different options. Some complained about there now being no saves, only checkpoints. Both are irrelevant to me as I used neither before and preferred the old school tension of fearing dying and starting over again. The checkpoints glow at certain points on levels, this is a different approach to other games which acknowledge checkpoints upon reaching certain milestones. A glowing green symbol can ruin realism but then it gives people more choice.
Maybe it's only redeeming feature;.. It's not often you get to play a game with graphics as wonderful as this game, and I'm not exaggerating. On one level you can see the rain water running down 47's head and the side of cars etc, it's one of the most beautiful things I've seen in a game, water pouring down a bald guys head in a grimey alleyway..
The visuals show IO have paid attention to visuals, and this does make for a more immersive game, which is a shame as everything else is ruined.
The lip sync with dialog is fine, the facial modeling too, the guns and bladed weapons have a brilliant shimmer in the suns light.
Sometimes the light bloom can be a bit powerful (47's shimmery head and overly white shirts) but this isn't of any bother. And the games artistic style is diverse. Yet at the same time unique (I remember seeing a piece of artwork with 47 coming through a door of white into a black room with both ballers raised and white light seeping around him)
Muzzle flashes of guns look great and so do the explosions, you can see bullets whiz past you when fired upon. Some may dislike the bloom but the game itself is more of a problem.
SOUND FX: 09/10
The sound effects of weapons are meaty and don't sound like toy guns or rip offs from other games (although guns used in most games are same models and will sound the same, it's great if on one game they can differ)
The dialog in the game is entertaining, whether from NPC's having a life like conversation, usually dipped in some dark humor, or that of story driven characters giving a good performance. The voice acting itself it nice, funny and Hollywood esque along with some cheesiness thrown in which goes with the games surreal environments and storyline perfectly. (Chicago isn't surreal, but I can't remember many other games where you walk around in a grow house bustling with weed and dancing cops that are high)
47 was going to be voiced by someone else, I didn't notice so much at first, but upon David Bateson returning and delivering his cold calculated performance as the original 47, I realized how bad the other voice actor was, not 47 at all, so his return is a important one. Continuity changes aren't worth the risk.
The musical score in the game is dynamic which makes everything you do have a nice flow to it. And though not by the original composer it's still good, there are still some operatics used but mixed with a bigger Hollywood movie styled sound.
It's ok. A nice little twist involved and a actual enemy or antagonist, not just lots of vague story pieces put together from short cutscenes and dialogue between missions like last games. It's not amazing, giving 47 too much emotion suddenly at times, whereas in last games he was a stone cold assassin. But if only they implemented more story without the cutscene/failed target assassinations and such.
Contracts mode is a good idea, but lame. Too lame. Not enough to differentiate everyones contracts, Same picture of the level, of the same looking targets, often the same title and description because people don't bother to fill it in. There needs to be much more diversity on this front it the mode is to succeed in the next game.
A poor effort to reel in new fans, teens, cod gamers etc which hasn't worked. The core fan base would have expanded if they stuck to their guns, but copied 47 with his silverballers and sold them. Horrid and arcade like mechanics, controls etc. But thank goodness they've listened to their fans and admitted the game was to get more fans, promising the next game will have open and very detailed sandbox levels with no magic pockets or bad features. Lets hope Hitman 6 is a return to form, and more like Bloodmoney and co.