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Submitted by edsmith1990 1172d ago | opinion piece

Why Games Matter - Hitman: Absolution Doesn't Play Right

Ed Smith of IBTimes writes "Hitman Absolution is total bumrinse; the old games are much better. In this series of three articles, I want to explain what used to make Hitman wonderful, and how computer games can use gameplay to make you feel like your character.

"Last time, I talked about Hitman's sound design - This week, I'm on about combat." (Hitman: Absolution, PC, PS3, Xbox 360)

Cam977  +   1172d ago
Interesting article. Although I yet have to play HM:A, I'm revisiting the older ones by doing Youtube tutorials for them all. I'm up to doing the end of HMC and then, I'll do HM2.
ctorretta  +   1172d ago
Err... the basis of the article - "The result of an experiment to clone the world's nastiest bastard, he's literally inhuman; he has no empathy towards normal people" is out right false.

47 has limited empathy but the series *repeatedly* shows that he is capable of displaying emotions, and does at several key points. If the bad animation was suppose to be a gameplay mechanic, it would have to suddenly get good at times to show that 47 will sometimes identify with other people. The fact that it doesn't essentially negates your article.

See Personality section:

Also, trying to suggest that the terrible animation and boring map were specific design decisions in the games' development is one of the most ridiculous things I've heard in a long, long time.

No offense Ed, but that is reaching an incredible amount. If you want to phrase it as your take on it, that is fine but there is zero chance that IO did those on purpose for the reasons you are giving.

I've played the games since the very first one, and everything you're chalking up to design decisions to make 47 seem less human were incredibly common things at each period in game development, especially for IO. These aspects of the previous games were purely artifacts of IO's development skills, the hardware of the time, and the general environment of game development at the time. It's cute to try to put further meaning into them, but is nothing but than fanfiction level conjecture.

Absolution has some major issues, and you point them out fairly -- the xray vision, the increased focus on gun combat, and the increased move set feel entirely out of place in 47's world. But all the other points you make sound like somebody padding out their post count for the week.
edsmith1990  +   1172d ago
I don't think all art need be rhetorical. IO may not have made these choices deliberately, but that's how I read the game. I don't see it as reaching - I honestly interpret the games this way, and I don't feel like I'm lying to myself or to other people when I say that.

I do say that that a lot of these things were products of the technology available at the time, but, isn't all art? I think one of the most impressive ways to utilise technology or equipment is to play to its advantages and limitations. Whether the decisions were made consciously or not is irrelevant - they're there.

Look at say, Night of the Living Dead, where George Romero has explicitly told critics that the death of Ben at the end of the film has no intentional racial overtones whatsoever - does that mean they aren't there? Are all the people who think they are wrong? Art is erotic; it's personal. When I look at a painting or a novel I might extract something entirely different from it than my friends, family or even the artist. That doesn't mean I'm wrong and they're right, or vice-versa; it's simply a case of having different mental lenses.

I don't think articles like this can be "negated" and I don't think any discourse should be flat out ignored. Here, for example is an essay examining Resident Evil 4 compared to the work of Schopanhauer: http://normallyrascal.wordp...

Now, you may not agree with that, I don't agree with that, but I think it's an interesting close analysis of the game; if nothing else, it's certainly valid.

As for 47 "repeatedly showing emotion" I'd argue that he CONSISTENTLY is shown to not have feelings, through the visual styles that I outline in the article. I'm talking about Hitman the game, not Hitman the cutscenes since I'm a game critic not a cutscene critic.

It's healthy to think about games in unusual ways; that said, I can't stand articles where I feel like things are just being made up to be contrary - I read an article at university that claimed the way we sit in cinemas is akin to how men sit when they get blowjobs, and that's what's happening to use, metaphorically when we watch action films. I thought it was garbage.

I'm glad that people hate this, I'm glad they find it objectionable. If the comment section on every website was just "heh I liked this article, the guns ARE cool" then wouldn't things be boring?

If you think I'm wrong, fine; if you think I'm reaching, ok then. But I don't. I'm entirely confident in what I say here and I think that, whether what I outline was purposeful or not, it's still there. It's still IN the game. And that gives the games this fantastic meaning and colour that I think is worth discussing.

The only thing I really don't appreciate is being accused of padding out my post count for the week. I have no weekly post count and I wouldn't work anywhere that did; I'm more interested in producing quality work. I spent a lot of time playing, analysing and thinking about Hitman before I started writing this - it wasn't done on a whim and it wasn't done for any reason other than I thought it was worth reading about.

Thanks for your responses
ctorretta  +   1171d ago
Fair enough, it was inappropriate to suggest you were padding your post count. Sorry, late at night posts get a little cranky sometimes.

Thanks for the thoughtful reply, even if I disagree I appreciate you responding with something more than the normal N4G 'WHARBARGL' that we normally get.
jeeves86  +   1172d ago
A lot of this article feels pretty far fetched. There were plenty of things that the older Hitman games did to lessen the impact of the fact that your sole purpose is to kill people (i.e.: pretty much everybody was a bad guy) but making them purposely like robots wasn't one of them.
GTRrocker666  +   1172d ago
The new game is much harder than the old ones. I think that is the real problem people are having. It forces you to play above what you are used to. They arent going to just hand you the kills anymore. You gotta practice and learn the levels. Some people want instant gradification..
Tribulation4  +   1171d ago
I honestly believe that this is a spoof article. It has to be, I don't believe that the writer of this actually believes any of the words he just wrote.

It must be. Right...?
edsmith1990  +   1171d ago
Uhm, no? I...sincerely mean everything I write here.
Ducky  +   1171d ago
The animations are mostly a technical limitation. Although you've provided an amusing perspective on the situation (one that I hadn't thought of before), I don't think the developers intended the animations to be reflective of 47's perspective. Mainly because they were found in almost every game from that era.

Nor do I think that being a bred killer would change the way you perceive other people's motion. If anything, that kind of physical behaviour is something you'd want to pay close attention to if you want to blend in. What you might end up loosing is the ability to perceive emotions or see everyone as a generic face... which Absolution does do!

47 also showed some emotion in previous games. He seeks redemption in Hitman2, and in Absolution he is merely returning a favor towards someone who once saved his life (while also hunting down those who hunt him).
Yes, he's been mostly indifferent in the past, but that doesn't mean he has to be a one-dimensional character.

Was indeed cumbersome, and omniscient (no one is ever THAT hyper-aware to sense movement inside the entire building). Doesn't feel as natural as 'instinct' which only shows enemies in vicinity and makes more sense.
Instinct also gives you that same detached feeling, by showing the world through surreal view and slowing down time. I think it does a better job of making you feel like a killer than a map could ever hope to do.

47's Brain:
When exactly does 47 talk about his thoughts to others in Absolution?
It's mostly just used to frame the story, and that's about it.

Absolution's big flaw is the scaled down level design. Everything else is mostly just a natural progression over what was previously done. You might find it 'boring', but having clunky animations, a map that breaks the gameplay's flow, and a story which provides no context would be considered archaic and not that enjoyable by current standards.
Still, your view on the game's mechanics was interesting to read.
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