We could spend a lot of time covering all the ways in which Birdie doesn’t make sense. His short-term actions don’t make sense and his long-term goals aren’t clear. But the way he’s constantly scheming makes it feel like he’s got a plan. He uses the guns and the notes and drops hints and it all has the rhythm of a movie where one fast-talker in the style of Verbal Kint is playing everyone.
But it never goes anywhere. His plans don’t actually make sense or lead to any sort of narrative or thematic payoff. It’s just a bunch of rambling bullshit. But I actually think it could have worked. If the rest of the game had been even halfway competent we would have been theorizing on what Birdie was doing instead of just assuming he’s yet another brute-force plot device. A story doesn’t need to make 100% sense. But it does need to make some sense, and at the right time.
Speaking of dumb things that make no sense:
- A biker bar where the bouncers try to keep you from reaching the point where you can buy drinks?
- Even though nobody here knows who 47 is or has any reason to be suspicious of him, the bouncers all try to “arrest” you anyway.
- And then pull guns. On a patron. Dressed sort of like a priest. Who hasn’t done a damn thing wrong. And then attempt to gun down a civilian in their own establishment.
- But once you do reach the bar, you can beat the crap out of the bartender without repercussion.
- Still not a Hitman level. No assassination target.
- How does pulling the switch begin a brawl? There was no reason for it.
- More importantly: There’s no way for you the player to anticipate that pulling the switch would start a brawl. That’s not a puzzle solution or a reward for lateral thinking. That’s just pulling a lever like a good little videogame monkey.
- The changes to the disguise system would be so much more forgivable if the game wasn’t full of levels like this, which seem designed to highlight all the flaws.
- What’s the deal with the gun store owner? He bought the guns, then refuses to sell them (isn’t he running a business?) but then offers them to you if you can out-shoot his daughter? Why did they bother voicing and animating this walking contrivance? Just replace him with a World of Warcraft style quest maker.
It was actually a revelation to me that this is the same team that did the earlier Hitman games. I mean, it’s right there in the title screen. IO Interactive. It just never occurred to me that this might be the case. What could possibly have happened here? This is like a world where Metroid Prime and Other M were made by the same team. It’s like if
Anne McCaffrey followed up her Pern books with The Eye of Argon. Everything here feels wrong. Even ignoring the almost constant failures of logic and basic storytelling, this feels like a Hitman game by people who never really played or understood Hitman. The tone is wrong. The themes are wrong. The setting is wrong. The characters are wrong. Even the gameplay is wrong.
I guess there were six years between Blood Money and Absolution. That’s a long time in game years. But still.
They’re working on another Hitman game. I still can’t escape the notion that all these problems are the result of one complete hack who was given too much power, because it seems unlikely that an entire team could all be this remarkably inept. (Particularly since they apparently made serviceable Hitman games in the past.)
Can the team self-correct? I’m perversely looking forward to the next Hitman game to see how it turns out.
The Best of 2016
My picks for what was important, awesome, or worth talking about in 2016.
A Lack of Vision and Leadership
People fault EA for being greedy, but their real sin is just how terrible they are at it.
The Best of 2015
My picks for what was important, awesome, or worth talking about in 2015.
A stream-of-gameplay review of Dead Island. This game is a cavalcade of bugs and bad design choices.
Philosophy of Moderation
The comments on most sites are a sewer of hate, because we're moderating with the wrong goals in mind.