This week’s Hitman: Absolution has reviewed well enough, but it certainly hasn’t struck a chord with everyone who played it. Absolution is a major change from Blood Money in numerous fundamental ways, and has lost a lot of that game’s charm. Indeed, Absolution seems to fundamentally misunderstand what it was that made people like me replay Blood Money through multiple times.
The Story Barely Mattered At All
Yes, there were cutscenes in Blood Money. No, you didn’t have to pay attention to them. It didn’t really matter why you were moving from hit to hit to hit in Blood Money, because the real story was down to you.
It was about how you went about taking down your targets, forming your own plans, and coming up with new strategies on the fly when things went wrong. That’s far more interesting than Absolution’s tale of gurning Texans and disturbing misogyny.
The Humour Was Largely Organic
In Absolution’s opening training mission, at one point you kill a man who has just been on the phone to his doctor. The tests have come back negative; he doesn’t have prostate cancer. This is played for laughs, but it’s not funny, just a bit grimy.
Blood Money was a funny game, in part, because of all the weird incidental stuff that you could uncover for yourself by experimenting. Poisoning cops by giving them poisoned donuts? Funny. Knocking a guard out by soaking a pair of panties he’s liable to sniff with chloroform? Funny. Killing two guys by planting a bomb in one of their briefcases and waiting for them to meet? Kind of funny, somehow. Absolution forces its humour, but it doesn’t work.
The Potential Accidents Were Far More Clever
Absolution has less ‘hits’ generally (more on that later), but the ones that are in here generally aren’t as smart as the ones in Blood Money were. Remember the Opera House? Replacing the fake gun with a real one so that the guy gets shot on stage, then blowing up the chandelier as the second target runs to aid his dead lover? That’s amazing.
Or the wedding, when you smack the father of the bride into an open grave? Wonderful. Or the nightclub where you mess with the pyrotechnics? The psychiatric hospital where you make it look like that dude dropped the weights he was trying to lift? All glorious. Absolution? A dude is standing near a hole, for some reason. Why not try pushing him into it?
The Levels Were Huge Playgrounds
Even Blood Money’s smallest level was set across an entire suburb. The target didn’t leave his house, but you were free to explore the surrounding area, conjuring up new tactics. Exploring the levels – which were often designed to disorientate – was always a pleasure, and if you could master your environment, you were halfway towards getting that coveted Silent Assassin ranking.
The fact that you could save anywhere (although saves were limited within a level) also meant that you could experiment within each level – Absolution’s checkpoint system is the worst.
It Was A Game About Being A Hitman, Not A Game About Being Agent 47
Seriously, for a game called ‘Hitman’ it’s weird how few hits 47 carries out, just as Connor in Assassin’s Creed III barely assassinates anyone. Why did this become a game about sneaking around in the shadows and occasionally shooting everyone with a gun?
We’ve played that game before. That’s how every damn game we already own plays. We wanted Blood Money 2, because there’s still nothing else quite like the original Hitman games out there, and we wanted to see where they could be taken now.
By James O'Connor