Review

Hitman: Absolution

You’ve Got Options

The branching possibilities of Hitman: Absolution recall the days of text-only games.

By John Teti • November 28, 2012

When you start up Hitman: Absolution, the first thing the game does is to tout its new graphical engine—the software that draws the game’s 3D world. Game studios like to boast about new engines because such puffery fits their favored metaphor, in which games are machines of entertainment, and therefore a major under-the-hood improvement like a new engine means you get more artistic horsepower. Or maybe your art is more fuel-efficient. I don’t know. It’s not a great metaphor. And a graphics engine is not a good way to express the appeal of Hitman: Absolution, whose strengths lie in its similarity to the most primitive computer games: text adventures.

There was a day when the notion of moving pictures on a computer terminal was audacious futurism, but the people of that era still wanted to play on their electric boxes. So games like Adventure and Zork built worlds in prose and gave the player agency with an idiosyncratic second-person narrative style—“You are likely to be eaten by a grue”—that took its cues from the user’s typed commands.

The limitations of interactive fiction, as text adventures are now known, are extreme. But the form has advantages. It’s relatively easy for a designer to create a story with branches—one that plays out a little differently if you happened to find the secret papers in the spymaster’s quarters, say, or if you recited the correct solution in the Cyclops Puzzle Room. What text adventures lack in visual appeal they make up for in possibilities. Absolution may be a fine-looking game, but it too thrives on possibilities.

Hitman: Absolution

As with previous entries in the Hitman series, you play a grim high-class assassin known only as Agent 47. This installment implausibly tweaks 47 by turning him into a dual-pistol-wielding assassin with a heart of gold. He still sports a perma-scowl and a power tie, but he’s also on a quest to save a girl from the evil forces who want to exploit her superhuman abilities (abilities that were bio-engineered into her by some of the same evil forces).

The overarching story is a dud. Confronted with the problem of making a murderous sociopath into an appealing character, the game’s writers have pushed 47’s nemeses to the outer reaches of cartoonish evil. I’m talking cigar-chomping, nun-executing evil. On the small scale, though, the game works as a series of kill-and-escape vignettes, and it seems to recognize its own ridiculousness. A moment in one early mission exemplified the game’s amusing mix of the dark and the loopy: As I perched outside a window at an Evil Guy’s mansion, a henchman approached the sill, preoccupied with an important phone call. The call was from his doctor, who said that the tests came back negative, and he didn’t have prostate cancer. The hired goon practically sobbed with relief. And then I yanked him out the window, to his death.

Hitman: Absolution

The missions range from executing a hit in the bustle of a strip club to sneaking through the tense quiet of a quasi-military mining installation. Absolution is at its best in stages such as one early excursion into Chicago’s Chinatown, where your task is to execute a local crime boss who holds court in his own little urban pagoda. You can just pop the guy, hide in a dumpster until the police settle down—cops in video games always suffer from crippling Attention Deficit Disorder—and stroll away. It’s all pretty straightforward if you want it to be, although I don’t know why you’d want it to be.

In the same way you might keep reloading a save file in a text adventure and experiment with different versions of the story, many of the levels in Absolution are designed to be replayed dozens of times. Explore Chinatown again, and you might find the sniper rifle conveniently forgotten in an apartment that overlooks the town square. Or the remote-detonated explosives in the vicinity of the local don’s car. Or less obvious, craftier vectors of murder. The quantity and variety of these possibilities turn a given level into a playground, in spite of the fact that your character couldn’t seem less playful. That’s the joke.

Hitman: Absolution

The major difference between Absolution and a text adventure (aside from the obvious) is that Absolution’s experimentation incorporates the element of pinpoint timing. The players on the Absolution stage all adhere to patterns of behavior, so as you replay a level, the buzz of human activity transforms into a sort of clockwork that you can observe, internalize, and exploit. As you sneak through the South Dakota auto garage where a few local toughs hang out, it becomes clear that your adversaries are part of a machine, and your task is to flit through the sprockets and belts at just the right moments to keep from being ground up in the works. So I suppose in that sense, the machine metaphor is apt.

Absolution’s most magnificent clockwork is on display, intermittently, in its first and second acts. The game suffers as it wears on because the designers choose to ramp up the difficulty by restricting your options. Where Chinatown feels like a playground, later levels like the aforementioned factory mine can feel like an airport terminal, funneling your world through one crowded checkpoint after another. (And the less said about the sequence with the sexy nuns, the better.) The game also shines somewhat less brightly in levels like an abandoned library where there is no target for your hitman to hit, and thus your objective is just to make it out alive. These sections feel more familiar—parroting other games of “dodge the eyeline” like Assassin’s Creed—and stealth alone simply has less of a charge than the pairing of stealth and creative murder.

Hitman: Absolution

A “Contracts” mode, which operates separately from the main story, invites you to undertake challenges created by other players (or, naturally, to create your own). A contract might specify that you have to take out the sharpshooting cowgirl in the game’s gun-shop level—while disguised as a store staffer, without being detected, using your strangulation wire. Players can’t create an impossible contract—they must accomplish a feat themselves before they can challenge others to match it.

The Contracts mode is a nifty way to broaden that playground feel with a bottomless well of dares and puzzles, and even in these early days I found some devious, creative inventions. Still, it feels somewhat sterile. Aside from a short title, Contract creators can only communicate to players by ticking off items from a pre-set menu of possible mission parameters. In the main game, however, the developers use goofy wordplay to hint at potential strategies. One entry on a mission checklist might read “Caught With His Pants Down,” to cite one of the crasser examples—you earn this merit badge if you assassinate your mark while he’s sitting on the john. That’s hardly poetry. But neither is “You are likely to be eaten by a grue,” and that still manages to light up the mind with possibilities.

Hitman: Absolution
Developer: IO Interactive
Publisher: Square Enix
Platforms: PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Reviewed on: Xbox 360
Price: PC—$50; PlayStation 3, Xbox 360—$60
Rating: M

Share this with your friends and enemies

Write a scintillating comment

  • http://www.gildedgreen.com/ Girard

    Hmmm… Saying text adventures are the “most primitive computer games” seems extremely problematic. If text adventures are more primitive than NES games because they lack the latter’s graphics, I suppose Chaucer is more primitive than the Lasceaux cave paintings for the same reason?

    I think an adjective that focused on the different genres’ respective relationships to the image, like “least visually-oriented” would serve the point better and avoid the sticky (and, frankly, wrong) value judgments implied in a term like “most primitive.”

    • http://gameological.com/author/johnteti/ John Teti

      primitive
      adjective
      1. being the first or earliest of the kind or in existence, especially in an early age of the world

      I’m not seeing the value judgment you are. Text adventures came before NES games. If I meant “least visually oriented,” I would have said that, but that’s not what I meant. I meant primitive.

      • http://www.gildedgreen.com/ Girard

        In that case, other graphical games like Space War/Computer Space or Tennis for Two would certainly be more primitive than any text adventure, in every connotative and denotative sense of “most primitive”.

        Text and graphical games evolved contemporaneously, and one isn’t necessarily a ‘primitive’ forerunner of the other. The majority of Infocom’s genre-defining text adventures came out after the 1983 debut of the Famicom.

        And even if text adventures did unquestionably predate graphical adventures, there are plenty of words for “came before” that don’t also connote “are less sophisticated,” which “primitive” unquestionably does.

        Your discussion seemed to hinge mainly on the idea that “this graphically-powerful game uses mechanics that are surprisingly reminiscent of non-graphical games,” rather than “this splashy new game uses mechanics that are surprisingly reminiscent of those quaint old text games,” which is why I suggested “visually-oriented” rather than “primitive.” You seemed to be comparing two forms of game and attitudes toward storytelling rather than two historic eras of game.

        • Captain Internet

          > LOOK

          You find yourself on the Internet. Some people are having a discussion, and there may have been a misunderstanding. What would you like to do?

          > GO NORTH

          You cannot go North

          > GO EAST

          You cannot go East

          > START TROLLING

        • http://gameological.com/author/johnteti/ John Teti

          Ha, c’mon, Girard, you’re one of the smartest guys around, and I always like hearing what you have to say. This just strikes me as a little silly. Okay, yes, Space War came before text adventures, you got me. Does that really get in the way of your understanding my point? It seems like you’re trying to call me out on technicalities now rather than trying to engage with the ideas I’m putting out there and have a conversation. If text adventures can’t be considered “primitive” in the context of computer games, then good night.

          We’re really getting into the weeds here, but the reason I wouldn’t say “visually oriented” there is because that point was already made implicitly; it would be redundant. I used the word “primitive” to add another, complementary inflection. Sure, I do believe that text adventures are “less sophisticated” technologically and graphically than Hitman: Absolution, but that does not mean I am making a value judgment about their intellectual worth. To use your example, I also believe the Lasceaux cave paintings are more primitive than the Mona Lisa, but that does not mean I believe they are inherently less sophisticated intellectually—i.e., less capable of conveying ideas or enlivening the human spirit.

          In the context of a review arguing that Hitman: Absolution’s most intellectually stimulating qualities emerge from its similarities to text adventures, I think it’s dubious to argue that “primitive” has a pejorative connotation here.

        • http://www.gildedgreen.com/ Girard

           @JohnTeti:disqus : I’m not trying to be pedantic or call you out on a technicality. The timeline quibbles were mainly to assuage pedantic trolls – my main problem is with the use of the word ‘primitive,’ which I would say invariably carries a value judgment (which is why we would never call an indigenous culture “primitive” today, regardless of its technological development). The word “primitive” carries a lot of baggage and I definitely feel the way you frame interactive fiction in the article does a disservice to it (if an unintentional one). If a game had novelistic elements, would you say it was drawing upon a “more primitive” narrative form? Would you say it was drawing upon the most primitive narrative form?

          Of course not, because primitive doesn’t simply mean “started to occur at an earlier time.” It means “Relating to, denoting, or preserving an early stage in the evolutionary or historical development of something.” It implies that interactive fiction isn’t one of several parallel forms a game can take (and that games continue to take), but that it’s some prior, rudimentary evolutionary form that has given way to more sophisticated forms of game.

          A rock tied to a stick is a primitive hammer, as it was an antecedent to later, more effective forms of hammer which rendered the “rock + stick” obsolete. That is not at all the relation, say, Trinity has to Hitman: Absolution.

          “If text adventures can’t be considered ‘primitive’ in the context of computer games, then good night.” I honestly, seriously, think they can’t. Certainly not the “most primitive.” Not by the definition you pasted, not by the definition I pasted, not, indeed, by any common definition of the word. Unless, like, every game made before 1990 can be considered ‘primitive.’

        • http://www.gildedgreen.com/ Girard

          @JohnTeti:disqus
          I also want to make it clear that I think that this piece, and your writing for the site, and the site in general, are all fantastic, and your analogizing this game’s mechanics to interactive fiction is really effective and illustrative of the way this Hitman game plays. It’s a great review.

          My only issue is that the way the analogy to text adventures is framed kind of condescends to them and/or throws them under the bus.

        • http://gameological.com/author/johnteti/ John Teti

          If ever there were anybody who didn’t need to add the “we’re all friends here” caveat, it’s you. Thank you for elaborating on your disagreement so eloquently.

    • Captain Internet

      I think he meant ‘primitive’ in the sense of ‘earliest’ rather than necessarily ‘least sophisticated’. Plus, you know, the technology required to display your cave paintings on screen came later than that required to display Chaucer.

      • Moonside_Malcontent

         And yet my Zork / Canterbury Tales crossover fanfic is STILL ahead of its time.

        • Spacemonkey Mafia

          I hear it’s being optioned for an all-text movie.

        • Moonside_Malcontent

           In th’olde dayes of the Kyng’s Queste,

          Of which the grues speake tru’ the beste,

          Th’ greene texte feathyr light did fall,

          And feelies gleamed in many a halle.

        • Fluka

          West of Hostelrye
          At night thou has come in-to that hostelrye.   Aprille with his shoures soote the droghte of Marche hath perced to the roote and bathed every veyne in swich licour.
          > Go North.
          I ne understanden.
          > Goon on pilgrimages.
          A Grue has eten thou.

    • bostonrocco

       The author of this article was spot on using the word primitive.  They ARE the most “primitive computer games” in that they came first.  Not sure how this is “sticky(and frankly wrong)”.  I believe your inner grammar-Nazi is peaking through.

      • http://www.gildedgreen.com/ Girard

         The earliest video games were graphical games, and not text adventures. So, in a purely vocab-nazi “only using the first, most denotative definition in the dictionary” sense, it is wrong.

        The “sticky” bit comes with the connotative meaning of the word “primitive,” which isn’t simple “earlier” but “comparatively lacking in complexity or sophistication,” which is a value judgment and one that is also patently false.

        • bostonrocco

           You might also want to work on your obvious reliance on condescension when trying to make a point.  It’s patently obnoxious.

        • DrunkPhilatelist

           you seem like a generally nice guy, but as St. Kenny said, “you got to know when to fold ‘em.”

        • http://www.gildedgreen.com/ Girard

          @DrunkPhilatelist:disqus
          WHEN YOU PRY MY MASTERPIECES OF INFOCOM COLLECTION FROM MY COLD, DEAD HANDS.

        • DrunkPhilatelist

           @paraclete_pizza:disqus there’s a ‘Leather Goddesses’ text game? you just blew my mind.

        • http://www.gildedgreen.com/ Girard

          @DrunkPhilatelist:disqus “Leather Goddesses of Phobos” is actually, seriously, a classic of the genre and really, really funny. It’s a bawdy, campy romp rather than an overtly pornographic game (you can turn on or off the explicit language, and even the “dirty” mode is tongue-in-cheek).

          It came with a 3-D comic and a…scratch and sniff card.

        • feisto

          Also, “Leather Goddesses” has one of the greatest endgames of all time, one of few moments in a text adventure where I thought, “This is why there’ll always be a reason for text adventures to exist: Graphics could never, ever do justice to something like this.”

        • Mikehole

          I know I’m late to this discussion (and I rarely chime in), but that text adventure name makes me think of Space Quest 4, where Roger timetravels to Space Quest XII, which was subtitled “Latex Babes of Estros.”
          I guess I just learned how Mark and Scott came up with that name. Yay internet!

        • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_HXHQLQ2ZNTU4Z7TOTKCOYKQM6E josef2012

          ugh,shaddup about it already.sheesh.

        • http://www.gildedgreen.com/ Girard

           @yahoo-HXHQLQ2ZNTU4Z7TOTKCOYKQM6E:disqus  You’ll notice that we all shut up about it around three days ago. Though if you find my viewpoint so interesting that you apparently want to resurrect the conversation, I’d be happy to oblige!

    • ToddG

      Not to pile on, but I don’t find the Chaucer/cave painting comparison to be very compelling, in that the programming skills and technology involved in generating animated computer graphics are hardly comparable to those involved in applying paint to a cave wall.

      • http://www.gildedgreen.com/ Girard

         I think you’re underselling the sophistication of those cave paintings, dude. They were bleeding-edge technology at the time, and took serious thought and work to execute. I am not being facetious at all.

        Which is why the word “primitive” has fallen out of favor when critically discussing art and anthropology – it assumes an evolutionary model of culture that simply doesn’t exist. Art made at one time isn’t inherently more rudimentary or more sophisticated than art made at another time.

        If you prefer though, I can frame a different analogy:
        If text adventures are more primitive than NES games because they lack
        the latter’s graphics, I suppose Chaucer (or Tolstoi, or any novel ever) is more primitive than NES games for the same reason?

        • ToddG

          I completely agree with your first two paragraphs.  My point, though, is that “primitive” does not need to apply to the artistry of the subjects at all.  (I realize that John’s specific usage and subsequent statements seems to imply such an application.)  I’m saying that, setting aside all artistic arguments, text adventures could be considered more primitive than modern games simply from a technology standpoint. In the same way, I think it is fair to say that Nosferatu is more primitive, technologically speaking, than Avatar.  I think it’s reasonable to claim this without any implied value judgment of either’s artistic merits.

          So, technologically, any novel is more primitive than an NES game, absolutely.  Artistically, obviously not.

  • http://twitter.com/tapirman Kyle O’Reilly

    From text adventures to Hitman.  Other vintage jumps?  Defender to Battlefield 3.  Joust to Pokemon?  Galaga to Forza Horizon?  You make the connection.

    Anyway, general reviews seem to be echoing the “airport terminal” criticism which is a shame as Hitman was always such a clever game.  And also, f those stupid nuns and everything they represent.

  • Spacemonkey Mafia

    Man, really?   The Insta-Salvation&#169 Innocent Little Girl is (one of many) of the most annoying tropes in video games.
       Just as Kratos’ one-note journey of systematic genocide was supposed to be softened by the laziest addition of Pandora into the third game, it’s just such a poorly realized way of adding depth to a character without… y’know, actually adding any depth to a character.
       I have an actual honest-to-god innocent little girl at home and I’m the same jackass I ever was.
       Maybe if I shave my head.  That seems to be the only other common denominator with all these characters. 

    • caspiancomic

       See also: hardened loner badass who loves animals.

    • Chum Joely

      Liked for the third sentence about being the same jackass as ever. I’ve got TWO little kids and it STILL hasn’t added any depth to my character.

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/DZ5WQVLQSLEYJGZRQJZPHQ2EFI Jeremy

       Mmm, that’s good. “Insta-Salvation Innocent Little Girl” trope. The more I think of it, the more it’s everywhere, isn’t it? And it’s not a benign thing either: Seems to me that channels aspects of the Virgin/Whore Complex.

      • Spacemonkey Mafia

           That’s an interesting thought.  While game writing for women is getting better by thin inches, it does feel as though women are still only allowed two flavors: vanilla and vanilla that you want to have completely degrading sex with.

        • http://profile.yahoo.com/DZ5WQVLQSLEYJGZRQJZPHQ2EFI Jeremy

           True. There are some good exceptions to that rule. Samus, Momohime (from Muramasa; admittedly *also* a sex object, but has more depth to her than that), the girl from Mirror’s Edge, Nariko.

  • DrunkPhilatelist

    i really enjoyed the original Hitman. it was one of the  few games i’ve played where it felt rewarding when you kept the body count to a minimum rather than slaughtering everyone in sight. i’ve no intention to buy or play this installment, but i once again am impressed that my google alert for “sexy nun” has lead me to erudite criticism.

    • dreadguacamole

      The hitman games have generally been very good – even blood money, which IIRC got a bit panned when it came out. What I’ve always loved about them is that they often feel, as the review points out, like puzzle games with multiple solutions for every problem – as long as you’re good enough to pull the solution off.

  • Fyodor Douchetoevsky

    So because the Hitman games are stealthy murder games, I’m going to talk about Hotline Miami right now. HOLY SHIT THIS GAME IS AWESOME. Did TGS with John Teti ever review it? 

    It’s essentially Drive: The Game without any driving or Carey Mulligan. It does have a kickass soundtrack and is some of the most fun I’ve had with a game in a long time. I’m only like 1/3 of the way through it, and it does occasionally have some framerate issues on my computer when it absolutely shouldn’t have any problem running at all. 

    • dreadguacamole

      Hotline Miami is incredible.

       You look at a level, say “fuck you” to the game designers, decide you’re never going to make it through it and thus throw caution to the wind and enter a room with three thugs armed with automatic weapons armed only with a lead pipe. And somehow, after a frantic, desperate scuffle, you’re the last man standing among a Pollock of gore on the floor!
       Then you get killed by a dog that saw you through some windows you thought were a wall.
       
      And because you only lost ten seconds doing all this, you immediately try again.

       Glorious.

    • feisto

      It got reviewed a couple weeks ago, I think. I’m still hopefully waiting for a Mac port (but who am I kidding).

      Might as well add the link:

      http://gameological.com/2012/10/review-hotline-miami/

    • Sleverin

       Yeah, I just did a near 5 hour run of that game last night to finish the main story, and the bonus missions.  The game had me hooked not only for the crazy violence and the variety of idiotic things I did, but for the bizarre and surreal story.  The background is a fuzzy, multi colored haze, the music thumping and somewhat hypnotic, the violence quick and cerebral.  I need to redo the ending stuff, because I was really tired by the time I got done, but dammit if I wasn’t confused and thrilled at the achievement of beating this game and some skulls.

    • Chum Joely

      I’ve gotta get back into that.  But I can rarely find more than 30 minutes at a time to play it, and that’s about how long it takes me to warm up to the controls and the rhythm of the game.  I only play every couple of days, and I’ve been stuck on the fourth level for quite a while– gradually mastering a larger and larger chunk of the first stage, but nowhere near the end of the level yet.  If the difficulty keeps going up for 6 more levels or whatever, I think my limited action-game skills are going to hit a wall pretty quick.

      • Fyodor Douchetoevsky

        Funnily enough, I’m having a memory leak problem or something and if I play it for more than like 10 or 15 minutes the game slows to a crawl and becomes unplayable. Good thing the levels are pretty short, i guess.

  • Staggering Stew Bum

    The bit where you can yank that bloke out the window after he has got the all clear from prostate cancer is the reason I bought this game, after by chance seeing that bit in a review on tv last week. I have two of the PS2 Hitman games and never played them so it was a strange move on my part to give this a go.

    But holy shit was it the right move because this game is great. I finished it last night and had a blast the entire way through. The story is ludicrous, the characters are ridiculous, but the game is still amazing. The stealth reminds me of the third person stealth bits in DX:HR, so if you loved that aspect then you owe it to yourself to check out this game. As John notes, the ‘sexy nun’ hit squad is a misstep but the actual level where you have to pick them off one by one is one of the strongest of the game: Surrounded by corn fields? Why I think I’ll dress up as a scarecrow and sneak around garroting everyone in sight with piano wire! Didn’t have to go about my task that way, but when in Rome…

    This game is FUN. Remember fun? I don’t, but apparently Hitman Absolution stimulates a sensation in my brain that I once called enjoyment before I was crushed by the world. I am already planning on bumping the difficulty up and having another run through, starting tonight (feel free to drop around if you’re in the area, but please call first). There are more guards as the difficulty level increases, so previous tactics on Normal difficulty are unlikely to work. I expect frustration but also FUN and more stabberrific goodness.

    • Aaron Riccio

      I always stayed away from Hitman games because I remember the first being so slow (much like early Splinter Cell games), and I’ve never been one for the patience of true stealth titles. (Assassin’s Creed isn’t one of these. And yes, I struggle to complete Metal Gear titles.) Has the action really picked up, or must I still steal people’s clothes? 

      Also, is the checkpointing more forgiving? I was reading in the comments above about Hotline: Miami, and that’s really more my speed, methinks.

  • KidvanDanzig

    I couldn’t disagree with this review more. Absolution is a really disheartening devolution for Hitman, which had only gotten better with every iteration before this. It would be baffling if it wasn’t so obvious – they wanted to make this one sexier, and trendier. 

    I don’t really throw out those accusations readily (it’s like saying a band’s “sold out”, it’s so overplayed as to border on meaningless) but the design decisions they made for this one are really, really bad, improving the gunplay over everything else. The biggest problem is that new engine – it cranks up visual fidelity but at the cost of maximum level size. 

    The huge levels were one of the biggest strengths of the series before this point – they allowed a lot of breathing room and expanded the options available to the player. Absolution’s areas are miniscule by comparison – the early Chinatown level tips its hat to the classic Mardi Gras mission from Blood Money but it couldn’t really touch it in terms of versatility – they employ tricks to make it seem bigger (alleyways, and small segmented areas) but it isn’t. The biggest practical effect is that you don’t really get the sense of 47 being creative in approach – areas cannot be circumscribed, you always have to go through guards. The introduction of “pinpoint timing” is a facet of this, and it doesn’t serve the game well when compared to its predecessors. 

    In a lot of ways it’s really reminiscent of the transition from Deus Ex to Deus Ex: Invisible War – the new engine they made for that game was severely constricted by original Xbox hardware and the sprawling city blocks of DX were nowhere to be found. Most areas felt like tight corridors, and there were ample loading screens between areas.

    As mentioned in the review, the new story-based approach is horrendous, but not just in that the story is imbecilic (it really, really sucks that they somehow turned Hitman into Kane & Lynch) but in that it wipes away the episodic mission structure of previous games, where the end of every mission provided a clean slate, and a choice of tools to go about doing what you’d been paid to do. You’re funneled in a way you weren’t before.

    Beyond that, the new cover and disguise system (complete with a mana bar triggering second sight, the design infection every action game is getting in 2012) are complete duds. Besides being a worthless addition (except with gunplay, which, don’t even get me started on the aim-stabilizing minigame) the cover doesn’t even work, and is preposterous. If you jump between cover in front of a guy the AI will not notice.

    Basically, IO fixed all the things about Hitman that were never broken, and it really sucks. Total dud.

    • http://gameological.com/author/johnteti/ John Teti

      Practically a review in itself! Well argued.

    • Nathan Rogers-Hancock

      This is a subject that I’ve been thinking about a lot recently – the odd battle between increasingly complex game engines and the limitations in content they bring about – the switch between the two Deus Ex games is a perfect example, but you can see it really brutally at the beginning of the switch between advanced 2D rendering systems and the earlier 3D games. From Ultima 7 to 8, for example, or from the late period Interplay RPGs to any of the 3D Bioware games, which seem cramped and small by comparison. Has gaming ever, in some ways, really recovered from the switch away from 2D game design in the early 2000s?

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/DZ5WQVLQSLEYJGZRQJZPHQ2EFI Jeremy

        Verily. It’s why I *love* things like Castle Crashers and/or anything produced by Vanillaware. Everyone else is chasing these pointless increments of graphical improvement (More pixels! Shading! OHSWEETSUSAN POLYGONS!) and meanwhile Nintendo and Behemoth and whoever made that awesome XBLA relaunch of Spelunky are quietly making games that are, y’know, FUN TO PLAY.

        • Nathan Rogers-Hancock

          it may actually be more complicated than just fun to play…like the switch from silent to sound in film was pretty rough, and the switch from analog to digital in film has been pretty rough. But those are  once in a decade issues. It seems like games are hit by constant – once in three years? – that set gameplay back as devs try and deal with new tech…

    • hastapura

      Yeah I’d heard this wasn’t too good. I guess it depends whether you come at this wanting a game in the vein of Blood Money or being up for anything, as Teti appeared to be.

      How many forced cover-based shootouts are there in this game? That determines whether I’ll play it honestly. I know there’s a mark-and-execute thing like in the last Splinter Cell, which is disheartening, not to mention the super-vision from the last six AAA releases bolted on.

    • http://www.facebook.com/gareth.hughes.1253 Gareth Hughes

      Having only played Blood Money and the first 3 levels of the original, I disagree on a couple of points. The instinct meter is pretty dumb but sidesteps the issue of having your cover blown for no discernible reason as with previous titles. Visual representations in general help out in actually enjoying the game instead of trial and error mixed in with a bit of luck. Don’t like them? Play on a difficulty mode where they’re not there and it’s more like the old games.

      It also seems more regular in that a well executed action in one attempt will work when repeated which seemed a bit hit and miss before so I disagree about needing “pinpoint timing” for the most part. As for checkpoints, they seem a bit odd but again, trial/error/luck isn’t always fun. I’d rather do a section a  few times instead of the whole level because I got spotted once.

      I agree generally with most of your other points but I’m enjoying the game 2 hours in regardless so it’s not a total dud in my view. Yet.

    • Andrew Kanninen

      I never post on here, but I just had to agree w/everything you just said. They made every last mistake the last Splinter Cell game did, essentially.

      Getting rid of the satellite maps was the worst of all – I know it makes sense since he left the agency, but the methodic planning was the. entire. point. of the game. Couple that w/the return of the checkpoint system and it’s all the trial and error frustration of the first game back in 2000. That’s not a good thing.

  • Effigy_Power

    I sense a real bias against sexy nuns here.
    I am sure there wouldn’t be the same uproar against a trio of sexy prie…

    I… I retract my statement.

    • Jackbert322

      Too bad they didn’t let Agent 47 disguise himself as one of the nuns…

    • STOP_RIGHT_THERE_CRIMINAL_SCUM

      the level in question is actually one of the coolest in the game, I have no idea what John is talking about 

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/DZ5WQVLQSLEYJGZRQJZPHQ2EFI Jeremy

    Yeah, this is *exactly* the sort of game I could not be forced at gunpoint to play. The entire genre of ‘you are a highly competent brunette [or, in this rare case, bald] male, who kills people in a 3D, third-person environment’ interesteth me naught.

    Hitman, Assassin’s Creed, Mass Effect, Dragon Age, Dragon’s Dogma, inFamous, Red Dead, Far Cry, Uncharted, GTA . . . IT’S THE SAME GODD*M GAME OVER AND OVER AND OVER. You’re just 30-something brunette man who sneaks around and kills people in 3D. Sometimes you have a gun. Sometimes you have a sword. Sometimes you can shoot lightning. And 6-12 months from now, they’ll release another game with “[TITLE][X+1]:[SCARYNOUN]” and you’ll pay $60+$40 of DLC for *that* one and gush anew about how it ‘changes everything’.

    If you’ll excuse me, Rhythm Heaven Fever isn’t going to play itself.

    • Fluka

      Serious looking brown haired white guy!  An everyman for our times!  

      Someday, I hope that our industry can finally put its full support and advertising behind a game which stars a blonde guy.

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/DZ5WQVLQSLEYJGZRQJZPHQ2EFI Jeremy

         I guess. Seems to me that would run into The Tidus Problem.

  • STOP_RIGHT_THERE_CRIMINAL_SCUM

    I fucking love the Hitman series and although Absolution can be incredibly frustrating at times (even more so than past entries) it’s still a pretty excellent game