Hitman Absolution│A retrospective playthrough

I’ve only properly played Hitman Absolution all the way through once, when it first came out in 2012, so i thought it would be interesting, giving its been nearly 6 years since the game came out, to revisit the game, level by level, to see how it holds up.
I don’t think it’s a bad game, no do i think its a great game. It’s this weird yet interesting middle ground where it wants to be a “modern” Hitman game but in doing so leaves behind some of the conventions of the series (that were later brought back).
I’ll be talking about everything from the game mechanics to the graphical art style.

I’m also creating this thread to open up talk about the game in general again. Has your thoughts on the game changed since it first came out? when was the last time you played through the whole game?

In making this series too, I’m also attempting to complete the game SA SO to the best of my abilities

Thanks for checking this out

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I’m as conflicted about this game as you are. I got it release day and played for most of the night, taking my time with the missions. I got up to the Orphanage level, and went to bed happy, knowing that at least there was a game called Hitman 5. It existed and was sitting in a video game console in my home. Simply magical.

As I went to sleep, however, I felt empty, unfulfilled. This wasn’t close to Hitman, nothing we’d been promised months prior. It was far more linear and cover-based than I’d remembered Hitman being. The disguise system and the fact that 47 had been deprived of tools that added variety and depth to the gameplay, as well as the silverballers and barcode that defined him as a character, made the game disappointing to me, weaker than the other installments. Cutscene assassinations…by the end, those angered me most. I already felt I’d been robbed of a full-on Hitman experience, and those cutscenes only served to remind me of how and why.

Needless to say, I don’t love the game as a Hitman game. I like it as a game that opened the door to more Hitman games. I was a fan of what it did for the series: keeping it alive and giving us more. I was only happy that we got another game with the character I basically got into gaming by playing as, even if it wasn’t exactly what I’d been dreaming of: a player-driven game that put you in control of the game and not the other way around. In Hitman 2, my favorite Hitman game, you lifted and used the fireaxe when you felt it was necessary. You readied the fiber wire and strangled targets, not 47. In Absolution, the game made you press a button to watch the game use a fireaxe and win for you. You watched as 47 fiber wired a target. Did I want to kill Skurky? Of course I did. Wade? Hell yes. Did the game let me do it? Hell no.

With that in mind, there were moments in Contracts mode, after playing the campaign, when I felt that Absolution brought things to the table that worked. I felt like I was killing targets in that mode, more than in the cutscene-riddled campaign anyway. The mode was one good addition to the series, and so were the graphical capabilities, Bateson returning, and that it can be played as a full and complete experience offline (something I sadly can’t say about the newest game).

To summarize, without Absolution, we wouldn’t have Hitman 6, a step in the right direction even with its numerous weaknesses, and for that I’m grateful.

I have the opposite opinion. I love Absolution and it’s still my favourite. To me it felt like it was simpler in order to fit the newcoming casual players. However, it still kept its core elements while changing the playing field. Maybe the developers thought too much of the same might bore fans so they gave it a new setting, different take on characters, and took away your tools. For long time fans, you knew the way 47 operates, stripping him from his tools is a way of making you rely on him instead of the weapons. Previous games had little to no hand to hand combat. 47 relied on his tools, either creating accidents, upgraded weapons, etc…
In Absolution, the game made you rely on 47, new hand to hand combat, the ability to make weapons out of everyday objects, his ability to improvise is what was emphasized.
Another thing I love about Absolution was the fan service levels. Levels like visiting Tommy the Tailor for an upgraded suit, or regaining your weapons in the gun range, making Diana more than just a mysterious figure, but making you care for her. 47 wasn’t overemotional, it was him showing how he cares. Like he cared for Father Vittorio.
Absolution is still my favourite Hitman game to date, I may love them all, but nothing compares to the grotesque brutality of Absolution, from the beautiful settings to the disguising character villains it created, the conversation npc’s had and crowd physics, to even the brutal killing animations. It didn’t give you environmental freedom, but it kept it’s freedom of approach. From poisoning, suit only, accident kills, close combat kills, collateral explosions, to the excellent gunplay… all made it feel unique and insanely replayable.

And that’s exactly why I think it’s a weaker installment. 47 is a perfect assassin, and the older games wanted you to live up to that role, to experience a challenge that would fit a highly skilled killer. The games were never meant to be cakewalks for average people, they were meant to be rewarding. That’s why the series garnered something of a cult following. They were most successful when they put you in a role you’d never be able to fill. Absolution just has you running, rolling from cover-to-cover, not being spotted by people who, no question about it, should have spotted you.

While it uses some ideas generated by older Hitman games, it typically does so in such a poor way that there’s little that feels similar. The rest of the elements it could have kept are gone and the game suffers for it. Change disguises like in old games–but not be allowed to move around freely. Discover opportunities to kill targets–but each one will be spelled out for you in the most obvious ways possible…so obvious that it feels like the game’s just doing the heavy lifting for you. Let’s give them a rating system—one that is broken and doesn’t even offer SIlent Assassin since many missions just require you to move. The targets might as well be dead once the levels start, they get in the way of the story. After all, that’s the reason why you kill them. In older games, you wanted to find every kill for a target, because that was the draw, the intrigue, of the games. Here, it’s “well, I need to get to the next checkpoint, so I need to kill this asshole.”

Become 47–yet everything about him that was definable as a character has been erased…his suit, his tie, his gloves, his guns, his barcode, and even his interest only in his work as a contract killer. At no point except the prologue is he paid to do anything he does in the campaign, and that’s what 47 is all about…completing a hit and going to prepare for the next one. “A contract is a contract.”

The developers sold Absolution based on the fans’ love for the previous games. They hoped we’d buy it, effectively duping everyone who did, myself included. They marketed this game as a true Hitman game, not just as a continuation. No more globetrotting…who wants to feel like James Bond, amirite?

And that was one of the game’s strong points, its animations and the brutality of stabbing someone (blood splattering effects, etc.) were good. It’s just a shame that blood pools don’t affect gameplay, and you aren’t the one doing any of the melee move animations in the game (i.e. readying the fiber wire by holding in a button, letting go once you close in on the target…there are other melee weapons here that used the same control type in other games, but Absolution and the new game just don’t feel the same without these little details.).

The upgrade system in Contracts mode was one of the game’s strengths, and it was tragically not part of the main game or the new game…a problem with both. To be honest, Absolution, for the most part, has better weapons than the new game, weapons an assassin would use, not children’s toys. You actually had various weapon types, not reskins. Like I said, the game’s got some good parts, I can’t deny that, but I don’t think they overshadow the negatives present.

Two good moments in a game that could have had many more moments that felt like classic Hitman, and not another game. The game mostly served to alienate fans, rather than create the game they, more than any casual gamer, waited for. Fans wanted something built off of what the classic games did right, not a full on redo.

That mind boggling choice, combined with the newest game’s absolutely bizarre marketing decisions (let’s go episodic, then not; let’s sell five hundred different packs that all sell different things just to confuse everyone), are two of many recent decisions why there are many people out there who have been critical toward Hitman games, criticisms I understand, even if I don’t entirely agree with all of them.

Actually, it’s nothing like his relationship with Father Vittorio. 47 did not care about Vittorio. After 47 was informed that there was a strong likelihood Vittorio was dead, he gave up on him, canceling any payments toward tracking his priest friend down. Instead, he had the ICA give him that money plus extra for his to remain in their employ. The only reason he saves Vittorio at the end is because he finds out Sergei, the person he was sent to end, happens to have Vittorio. Diana’s simply someone who gives him work. Their relationship was established to be professional, all that 47 is, and in no way personal, all that 47 is not.

Except being able to perform the kills on those “disgusting character villains” yourself…even when the game pushes each of them in such a way that it wants you to be the one to pull the trigger. The settings are great too, yes, but sadly you can’t really enjoy them in their entirety, due to the defective checkpoint system and the doors that seem to close off npcs to the entire world behind it. I blew up the Saints by the gas station, yet once I go out to the cornfield no one notices anything…okay then…immersion lost.

In fact, the target I had the most desire to kill in the series was the Meat King’s twisted brother in Contracts…seeing what he did to that girl, I decided to make an exception and kill a non-target that time around. That was a grotesque scene that didn’t need words. You saw what was happening. You knew 47 had the ability to stop the brother if you gave him that choice, and you didn’t have to. The mission didn’t require it.

That’s what made that moment powerful, another meditation on life and death, something the serious nature of the games provided to players that cared enough to be interested in analyzing them. That single moment when you decided to kill someone who was actively doing something very wrong was better than the whole story of Absolution, because it wasn’t a forced journey…it was you and you alone calling the shots, you “choose the truth” of 47’s story that you “like.”

Gone are any compelling conversations that actually felt “real” or natural, lifelike, replaced by highly exaggerated conversations that the new game has, sadly, latched onto as well. I can get a little bit of comedy, as all the games have had a dark sense of humor, but Absolution takes it too far. How did we get from Silent Assassin’s subtle “avoid stepping on the pizza and potato chips so you can strangle your target” kind of humor to “let’s have guys dropping the f-bomb twenty times, mentioning how they ‘have wood,’ and dogs humping” kind of humor? At what point did things go so wrong?

Even worse yet, you have no choice but to trigger some conversations before any npcs you want to move around do, so there goes that elaborate kill you’ve trying to set up for the past half hour in order to have fun with the game. Even the dialogue limits the opportunities, another poor choice in this game’s design. Dialogue should be carefully placed, not in a way that’s limiting to the dynamic nature of the action but enhancing. This game doesn’t even attempt to do that.

Moments of funny dialogue, and granted there are funny bits like in the new game, are less special when you’re forced to be subjected to them, rather than to going out of your way to discover them as you play, possibly by approaching a mission from a different angle or by reaching a certain point earlier than you did in a previous run. The same goes for kill opportunities. Having the ability to run out of time makes reaching a point to complete a certain kill, like a sniping opportunity, much (prime example is the Motorcade Interception or Kirov Park, the tension hits when your targets begin to flee or you only have one precise moment to get the perfect shot, remember when you missed the shot and had to react quickly?).

The crowds, however, are good. I absolutely agree. One of this game’s few strengths, though I’m personally not as big of a fan of levels with crowds, since crowd members are not “true NPCs” that react normally to what you’re doing, .

That you are forced to watch and have little to no control over. Few kills accentuate the game’s brutality and irony than meeting a target playing golf up on his second floor balcony of his bedroom, only to lift your own golf club above your head, striking him until he breathes his last breath, and then you steal his car. Absolution can only dream of including such challenging, rewarding, and memorable kill that took some effort to set up, not just the King of Chinatown deciding that, of all places, he should piss under a suspended object.

Only in missions that had minor targets, not targets that had any part to play in cutscenes, as the game wouldn’t want you to have any freedom to have an effect on what happens in those story-telling moments. Even the kills themselves don’t expect you to experiment. The gas station explosion kill, for example, is linear. How, you ask? If you place more explosives around the station, the station will rebuild itself just to blow up in the same exact way again. The developers didn’t expect you to try anything inventive, as they only made it so that it is only made to blow up one time in one animation with only a certain amount of explosions, how dare you, curious, inventive Hitman player, try anything more than what we allow you to try.

I sound very critical here and didn’t mean to construct a novel, but thinking more about my post and reading your post drudged up memories of things that frustrated me about this game then, and still frustrate me now. The game’s worse than I remembered. I like the game, but it’s far from the best Hitman game for me. No game is perfect, I can accept that, but this game doesn’t seem to even try to move in that direction, in a direction that builds naturally from what Hitman fans were led to expect and what the game honestly could have been.

See that’s the point, Hitman Absolution was from the beginning different, it was marketed to show 47 at his lowest, in a setting he was dragged into. Forced to kill Diana, forced to protect this girl, forced to go after people who he wouldn’t go after regardless, while the police hunted him. It was 47 being exposed to the world. Without his tools, his suit, his guns, or agency back up.
The trailers showed this, from the saints hunting him, to the gameplay of Run for your Life, to the ICA files trailer. This was about 47 surviving, no longer was he the hunter instead he was the hunted.
No matter what you did, you were never fully safe. The disguises made you try and strategize even tho I admit that it was a flaw, just like in the trailers, his improvisation skills were emphasized. When it came time to kill Dexter, you could strangle him, shoot him, hit him with an object…etc. You were given the choice of shooting Lenny or letting him suffer, how to kill Layla, or even Jade, you were offered freedom on how to approach Sanchez, not fighting him opened up the entire level, fighting him was a man on man type of fight.
47 did care for Vitorrio, tasking himself with a suicide mission just for info on where he was, Vitorrio was the only person he confided in. Diana saved his life, he felt in debt with her and harming her had an effect on him. The story of 47 is about struggle with purpose and emotion. 47 doesn’t want to be a killer, it’s what he was created to do however. He does feel and does care for things and people, even if he is shown to be cold hearted at times.
Absolution wasn’t a story of 47 entering the room and being the most important person instantly. It was about 47 being thrown into an environment that was bigger than anything he was prepared for. It made him improvise, adapt. Losing his guns and suit didn’t mean he was down and out. He used the world to his advantage, from laughable weapons such as books to the brutal hammers and scissors. The cover system brought on a new challenge, doing everything without disguises. An option that was the definition of anti hitman, no one plays the game to just wear one disguise and shoot everyone. But the game allowed you to. You could be sluggish, or you could be professional.
Absolution was a game about a dark twisted world with disgusting villains, from a sadistic nun killer, to scientists who experimented with children, to an abnormal genetic titan. It was a classic Hitman environment, a game about 47 being outgunned. Yet never outmatched.

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Absolution’s missions are linear and uninspired, that alone makes the game uninteresting to me. It’s simply not the same kind of game as Blood Money or 2016.

Unfortunately I don’t believe this made for a good game or narrative. Hitman games IMO are good when the story and spotlight are not on 47, but moreso on the gameplay and “puzzles”. 47 should be a shadowy, mysterious character, and that manifestation is ruined when you create a game purely on a narrative about him and his personal journey.

From previous games of 47 being a badass assassin, to him being at risk and at his lowest point, is such a sharp contract that it doesn’t sit well with me. Also backing onto my previous point, I believe Hitman games are best when they are less about 47 as a character.

To me, these were very superficial choices, as the narrative has to continue in some way for the game to progress.
While the same argument can be made for any hitman mission, at least those in blood money and 2016 had much more variety and ways to approach the targets, instead of getting to a specific room and using 3 or 4 equitable items that you might of picked up along the way.

To me, i thought it was completely out of character for 47 to care about another human being. Diana and 47 worked together. That should be where the relationship ends IMO. whether or not there are undertones of anything else should be kept as undertones, not the basis of a whole narrative ark.

The game actively discouraged players from doing that, as if you start shooting everyone, the door to end the level will be unusable until ALL npcs are off high alert, which they wont unless you will them all or are ok with waiting around for an unreasonably long time.