I donâ€™t have patience. And patience, as they say, is a virtue; especially when one is an international hitman.
Hitman (the character, not the game) is the ultimate killing machine.
Like a shark, but on land, and with guns. He is grey and silent and vicious. But unlike a shark he can stop moving without dying. In fact sometimes he will stop moving and just sit around listening to people for minutes at a time. Then slide by unnoticed or garrotte them and stuff their body in a bin.
The waiting got to me.
Crouching, listening to the guards go by. Eavesdropping on their conversations. Learning what might happen next and where they might go. The whole time my trigger finger is itching. But this game penalises you for killing people.
At first this confused me, then I realised that the game is all about purity. Itâ€™s very zen.
John Hitman (not his real name) should not allow his hands to touch any dirty humans other than his target. Why waste his amazing powers on anything other than the person he is being paid to kill? As such, the game plays at different levels of purity. Your score at the end of each level is tallied up and every non-target killed or even incapacitated earns you a deduction. Because of this, Hitman tests not only your sneaky assassination skills but your morality.
In one level, a man - someone you have met previously - begs for his life as he is led away by mercenaries to be shot. To be pure you would let this man, a person that you put in danger simply by showing up at his motel, die with a bullet in his head. Do you ruin your score simply to save an NPC? I did.
But then I blew the rest of the bad guys to hell in a gas explosion and walked out. Like a Boss.
Of course I couldâ€™ve snuck around and garotted the two targets I was supposed to kill. Or knifed them before hiding the bodies. I couldâ€™ve gone in guns blazing and shot up the place. There was probably a sniper rifle lying around somewhere too.
This game has so much depth. If John Hitman is a shark, Absolution is a deep, dark ocean.
The first mission in Chinatown is great example of this. I found two ways of killing the target (not including walking up and shooting him in the face, which I tried first), all while blending into the crowd. Searching on the net I discovered another two. The detail involved is spectacular. The levels are crafted like intricate puzzle boxes that have a small number of very particular ways to open them. Or you can just smash them with a hammer.
Itâ€™s hard not to compare Absolution to Dishonored. Both games require a large amount of stealth and offer multiple paths to victory. For me, Absolution felt like a deeper game and a far more enjoyable one. Perhaps this because the gimmicks in Dishonored tended work work less often than the ones in Absolution. While sometimes throwing a wrench or setting off a car alarm might not work in Absolution, there would always be another way of doing what you wanted; making a mistake in Dishonored nearly always ended with me reloading a save.
Absolution does have its problems. At times, it feels like the designers were so busy crafting the intricate details that they missed the big stuff. And by big stuff I mean story. Yes, yes itâ€™s alright as far as a video game / action film script goes, but more often than not I found myself saying â€śWait, why am I doing this?â€ť before just following along killing bad guys. Then thereâ€™s the sex.
Absolution gained a lot of early haters with its â€śSaintsâ€ť trailer, wherein John Hitman slaughters his way through a squad of stripper / nun / assassins. The creepy undertones of this silent man getting up close and violent with clearly sexualised women was frankly disgusting. Then I discovered that the Saints are actually in the game. A whole level (each level is made up of a number of smaller episodes) is devoted to killing them in small groups.
Itâ€™s never explained why these women dress in pseudo-religious bondage gear or how they can be efficient killers on six-inch heels. Earlier in the game real nuns are slaughtered by another gang of mercenaries. All of this just made me feel uneasy. Women in the game are either sexualised or weak victims. I already believed that the bad guy was evil before I overheard the strippers talking about going to â€śHawaiiâ€ť - a place no girls come back from.
It seems the one strong female character is killed in the first level. You - spoiler alert - shoot her while sheâ€™s in the shower. Naked and completely innocent. After you shoot her in the glass shower, her body falls to the ground where she is now covered by a ripped shower curtain that came from nowhere. We have to deal with killing a defenceless woman in a shower (there is no way not to kill her), but we do not have to deal with her naked body as she dies, because that would be obscene?
Intricate details, but missing the big things.
Overall though, itâ€™s an excellent game with an almost Grindhouse film aesthetic to it. Even the level with the Saints was actually incredibly challenging and fun to play (if you ignored the sexy nun thing.) The amazing imagery and huge crowd scenes - which are frankly amazing and make Assassinâ€™s Creed's look dull - give the game a real filmic feeling to it. And remember, you donâ€™t have to kill everyone.