Friday, April 17, 2015

Hitman Absolution - Mugger Reviews

I came into this review knowing full well that my fist impressions of this game were tainted by my experience with the previous titles. In older reviews by other escapist members I noted that people were judging this title, not as a game in and of itself, but as a part of the Hitman franchise thus far. I'm here to tell you that this is not completely wrong. Hitman is part of a series, and a game that is part of a series the consumer base comes to expect certain things from. So while the game may be great as it's own title, it doesn't stack up to previous games that (sadly) did better. This is not to say that HA is a bad game, only that it does not belong in the Hitman series.

 Pros: So where exactly does HA shine? 47 has a new and improved control system. He responds faster, moves more fluidly and reacts to input seamlessly. The massive array of weapons in the game means you'll always have a new toy to try out, and each weapon has a point where it can be useful. In particular I found the new sniping physics more realistic. Time lag between shot and hit at great distances was a nice touch. I did feel that bullet drop should have been factored in too, if they were going for realism, but it's still cool anyways. After playing the Sniper Challenge I feel like the game should have featured a few sniping challenge levels too. Sadly there are only a scant few areas that the rifle is useful, but where they are the game shines. Accident kills are more abundant than previous titles. The game is more modular, allowing you to move items around, like gas cans, c4, or bodies, and set up traps where you want. Despite all the complaints I've read about how stupid the AI, it is not. These enemies are by far the smartest in the series, and if you haven't figured this out yet then you need to turn the difficulty up to hard, pro or Purist and you'll see exactly what I'm talking about. The police work in teams like a trained SWAT unit would, while thugs are untrained and act as such. The agency troopers will methodically examine each and every corner if you make even the slightest error. Some enemies use silenced weapons now, making them easier to come by. Thrown weapons are super easy to use now and more numerous, my favorite was the fire poker.

 Cons: I found the fully upgraded 47 functions the way he should have the ENTIRE game. 47 has been a trained and seasoned killer for a decades worth of games now, why does he need training? Accident kills are horribly telegraphed and the same accidents get reused throughout the entire game. Silenced weapons are never truly silenced. I can't count the number of times I dropped someone with a silenced pistol head-shot in an empty room only to have a guard 3 doors down go "Was that a gunshot?" and come waltzing in a second later to blow my cover. QTE melee sucks worse than rock paper scissors. The QTE melee also has a nasty habit of forcing you into a fist fight even if you are armed with a melee weapon like a knife or katana. There is no inventory selection before missions, except on contracts. I don't know if I'm the only person in the world who is fuming mad over this, but I DID pay extra to unlock the DLC weapons and I am NOT happy about only being able to use these items, that I paid for with real money, in a segment of the game I only play a little. This alone really murdered the game as a whole for me. It discourages ingenuity, undermines motivation to unlock weapons and upgrades, and forces you to think inside the sandbox of each individual level. Admittedly these are sandboxes with numerous options however I found that only a couple options on each map allow for the stealth approach, while a majority throw stealth kicking and screaming off the top of a ten story building. Finally, my biggest problem with this game is the disguise and instinct system. Disguises will be shot down in seconds by NPCs wearing the same outfit as you-unless you keep your R1 mashed down the entire time. This happens even on Normal and becomes impossible on harder settings. Even with maxed out skills your instinct meter depletes far too quickly. I found that it was actually easier to just keep the suit on and use cover.

 Neutral: Challenges are a bit awkward and having several for the same target means that each level has a small percentage of replay value. A few of these challenges were hilarious and fun to achieve, like the Ronin challenge for Operation Sledgehammer. None of them really give you a sense of achieving anything though. Once you get the predetermined amount of points for the Technique unlock then there is no reason to get a higher score. Not much was done in the music department, but the sounds (explosions, gunshots, knife stabs etc.) felt more realistic than previous titles. Point shooting is fun, but also insulting. This is an shooter not a point-and-click adventure.

 Contracts mode: This seems to be where IO focused most of it's energy on the game. Contracts allows you to manipulate target selection on nearly every map, and choose which weapons and disguises to use. It gives you the functionality that SHOULD have made it into SP, like a working inventory selection prior to a mission. While contracts was not why I bought the game it is enjoyable to a degree. Sadly there just aren't enough options yet. Some of the maps don't make it to contracts, like the first segment of Mansion. The Bar-Fight level was pretty fun in SP, but did not make it to contracts. The Church level had potential but also didn't make the cut...

 In closing I sincerely hope that this game is patched and soon. There is a lot more potential here than quality. With the addition of a weapon selection before missions in SP and a more reliable disguise system, i feel this game could be far more enjoyable. I do not lower my bar for games like Hitman, and neither should you. The reason I judge new titles by old ones is because I loved the old ones. If I didn't, then I wouldn't have bought them. IO, you are selling nostalgia, lets be straight with each other. Don't reinvent the wheel, give us a silencer, one that doesn't make a sound when we pop melons...