on May 1, 2015
In a game brimming with stupid irritations, the scene where Victoria kills everyone but her captor is one of the most irritating and stupid. After building up her powers for an entire game, they finally reveal them just for the sake of a useless cutscene that accomplishes nothing. After failing to give our damsel any personality whatsoever, they finally give her a moment of screen time to reveal she’s stupid, useless, and overly emotional. I guess Dexter knew she was stupid, since he made no effort to protect himself from her and was completely unafraid of her even as she slaughtered his men. Apparently he knows he’s wearing plot armor?
It wouldn’t even be that hard to fix this: After she kills all the mooks, she fires a bullet right at Dexter’s cackling face without hurting him. The camera pulls back to reveal he’s on the other side of a bulletproof glass wall. It’s still dumb and contrived, but at least the damsel and villain don’t both need to behave like complete morons to make this scene work.
Look, I know it’s completely unfair to compare Hitman: Absolution to some dream game I have in my head. It can’t even succeed at the very shallow goals it set for itself, so asking for something thematically ambitious and mechanically complex is like asking Tommy Wiseau to come up with The Usual Suspects. It’s totally unreasonable and a recipe for disaster.
But you know what? This game is already an unreasonable disaster on many levels, so who cares? What are the writers gonna do? Have me stupidly captured by idiot villains in another dozen cutscenes? So let’s talk about what I wanted when the game started telling us that Victoria was a super-badass.
I’m using Léon: The Professional as my reference point, which starred Jean Reno and a then 12-year-old Natalie Portman. I don’t know if I’d still like it today, but I remember really liking it in the 90’s. In the movie, Hitman Léon takes the young Mathilda under his wing and teaches her the assassination business. Another source of inspiration might be the irresponsible and quasi-abusive relationship between Big Daddy and Hit-Girl in the movie Kick Ass.
I’d steer clear of the “Dad” themes of Telltale The Walking Dead or The Last of Us and play around with an adult / teen relationship where a familial bond doesn’t exist. Instead I’d mess around with “Old and cautious” vs. “Young and Eager” duel of personalities. More of a Batman and Robin kinda thing. (Yes, I realize Batman and Robin are also infused with father / son themes at various times. But it’s a matter of degrees. Sometimes they’re just two really different personalities that provide a good contrast.)
Let’s call our leads Léon and Mathilda. You’d pick which character you wanted to use for each mission, and they would both have their own set of advantages and disadvantages. Léon is big and can disguise himself as other men. He’s good with large weapons like shotguns and automatic weapons. He’s strong enough to subdue an aware enemy in hand-to-handAlthough preferably without a dumb quicktime event.. By contrast, Mathilda is a lot smaller. She can hide in more places, can go through vents, and is less noticeable when sneaking around. She also has access to female disguises, although those will be fewer in number compared to the male outfits. Her small size will either make her rubbish with large firearms or just forbid the use of them outright. She can do silent takedowns, but if a guard is aware of her she won’t be able to take him head-on in combat. She’ll be slower at moving bodies but faster at sneak-walking.
More broadly, Léon would play like 47 and Mathilda would play like Sam Fisher.
This provides a pretty good Hitman-esque game where you have the additional option to play a particular level as either Léon or Mathilda. The other character will be your radio guide for character banter and plot points. Once in a while you might get a Léon-only or Mathilda-only mission if that’s required for player training or thematic reasonsOr perhaps give the player a soft limit and say they can’t use the same character for three missions in a row., but for the most part the player should find either character completely viable. The last mission would have the two characters working on a hit in tandem, with the player POV bouncing back and forth like in Max Payne 2.
But really, almost anything would have been better than what we got. I’ll even go so far as to say that this is a worse game than Kane and Lynch. K&L was dumb, nihilistic, and ugly, but this game is all of that plus a dozen other glaring problems.
 Although preferably without a dumb quicktime event.
 Or perhaps give the player a soft limit and say they can’t use the same character for three missions in a row.