Hitman Absolution EP18:Absoludicrous

By Shamus
on May 2, 2015
Filed under:
Spoiler Warning


Link (YouTube)

And so it ends. Here is Rutskarn’s Clod of Cthulhu series that I alluded to during the episode. As we announced in the credits, next season is likely going to be Arkham Asylum. I’m really looking forward to some positivity after so much bellyaching.

I know we already awarded this earlier in the season, but for the sake of people skimming the archives I’d like to remind everyone that Hitman Absolution is only the fourth game to claim this prize:

goldun_riter.jpg

More importantly: This is the worst writing I’ve reviewed on this site. Dumber than Champions Online. More obnoxious than Fable II. More tonally confusing and inept than Indigo Prophecy, and more at odds with its core gameplay than the Thieves Guild quest in Skyrim.

I guess the gameplay is serviceable, but it’s still a step down from the previous game and the “proper” Hitman gameplay was outsourced to the community using the contracts modeAnd even that is reportedly shallow and under-developed..

I do feel bad for chucking insults at the writers. That’s an ugly thing to do and I’m not proud of it. In my defense, they started it. In playing the game I couldn’t escape the notion that this couldn’t be an accident. This felt less like the work of an idiot and more like the petulant mocking of someone who loathed Hitman and hated Hitman fans. I’ll admit I could simply be paranoid. Perhaps after staring too long into this abyss and straining to find order behind the chaos I’ve begun to imagine malicious intent where there was no intent at all. If that’s the case, I apologize.

But the game is still atrocious either way.

Enjoyed this post? Please share!

Footnotes:

[1] And even that is reportedly shallow and under-developed.



A Hundred!202014We've got 154 comments. But one more probably won't hurt.

From the Archives:

  1. Benjamin Hilton says:

    I thought there were always dissenters to doing Arkham Asylum. What changed? That being asked I cannot wait to see it.

    • Henson says:

      Josh has always vetoed Arkham because he doesn’t like the way it plays, from what I remember. It would seem he has withdrawn his veto.

      This might also indicate that a game that he wants to do for Spoiler Warning, which has been vetoed by others, could also eventually be covered…

      • Daemian Lucifer says:

        Maybe someone else will play it.Shamoose for example.

        • MrGuy says:

          In heaven, Josh plays the game, Shamus critiques the writing, Chris puts the game into a broader context, Rutskarn is in charge of elaborate metaphors and puns, and Mumbles provides the over-the-top enthusiasm for certain gameplay concepts (Cannibalism, Bees, butt-punching, etc.)

          In hell, Shamus plays the game, Josh critiques the writing, Mumbles goes on about ludonarrative dissonance, Chris is in charge of elaborate metaphors and puns, and Rutskarn is in charge of the butt-punching overenthusaism.

      • Adam says:

        Uh oh, this could be a real “deal with the devil” sort of situation (the devil, of course, always being Josh) where Josh cashes in his chips with the rest of the SW crew at the worst possible time. “HAH! Now you HAVE to let me do a Dark Souls and/or Bloodborne season!”

        • Tizzy says:

          This is to be feared indeed. Though it could lead to aome fairly funny montages of Josh dying over and over again. With enough editing, it could be fun for us. For the cast having to sit through it, on the other hand…

          • Sleeping Dragon says:

            It could push me to actually play through Dark Souls. It’s been sitting in my backlog for a while and I keep hearing a lot of praise for the atmosphere and design but every time I think that I should finally play it I keep putting it off because of the (reputed) difficulty.

            • Ivan says:

              I know I’ve badmouthed it before, but it’s not that dark souls is hard, it’s just that it has a very steep learning curve. Depending on your playstyle it might or might not be that bad. I watched a blind let’s play (the Geop one) and his cautious playstyle got him through most parts of the game without much issue.

              Honestly, being very defensive and watching your opponent to learn his attack patterns is a viable strategy for nearly every enemy in the game.

              • Trix2000 says:

                Exactly this. It greatly rewards being VERY cautious, which a lot of people flat-out won’t want to do at first. It’s easy to want to go in and KILL ALL THE THINGS, but doing this without planning and preparation is often a one-way trip to deathtown.

                Part of why I took to it fairly quickly was A) I’d watched a fair bit of people playing it and got some idea of what it entails, and B) I tend to be pretty cautions/defensive/paranoid when I play games to begin with. So from the beginning I was carefully skirting corners with shield up at all times, and as a result I had surprisingly (from my perspective at least) few deaths.

                But it all comes down to how fast and willing a person is to adapting to that playstyle, combined with how long a person can tolerate dying/retrying until they learn that style. For some people it works out really well, but for others it’s just too frustrating and not worth the time and effort. And honestly, I can’t blame anyone for going either way on this – it’s a very polarizing game.

          • IFS says:

            I don’t know, Josh is clearly pretty skilled at Dark Souls from the few episodes we’ve gotten of that so far, so I think it could make for an interesting season. Bloodborne is harder so that’d be more likely to lead to those death montages, but the crew sat through Josh’s efforts to exterminate the Boomers (among other schemes) so I think they’ve been through worse already.

      • Thomas says:

        I think Mumbles always vetoed it because the Spoiler Warning crew almost always end up ragging on the game, and she didn’t want her experience with Bioshock to happen again with Arkham.

  2. Daniel England says:

    I really hope Mumbles will be joining you lads for the Arkham season!

    Boy howdy, this game, super glad it’s over. I quit after the Train level when I realized that this wasn’t anything like how I remembered Blood Money. It’s odd that you’d end up playing the ostensible good guy in a Hitman game. Oh well, at least it was pretty short.

  3. V8_Ninja says:

    Man, the ending of this season of Spoiler Warning just reminds me that I have Hitman 2 and Hitman: Blood Money in my Steam library with a total of zero hours split between them. I need to get over my aversion to stealth games and finish those two games. Also, for some reason I thought it would be a good idea to buy every single Splinter Cell game, so there’s that too.

    Anyways, I’m happy that Arkham Asylum is up next, especially since it’s a game that everybody on the cast seems to like. While it’s entertaining to see you guys have to sit through some really awful stuff, the negativity does get tiring.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      Hitman isnt your traditional stealth game.Most of it is hiding in plain sight,disguising as your enemy.So give it a try,you may like this kind of stealth.

      Except for absolution,that one is about crap.

    • Tizzy says:

      They will find fault with the game, though. That’s what they do.

      • V8_Ninja says:

        I’m sure the crew will find some faults in the game, but there’s a difference between finding dumb logical flaws in a game that mostly works and nitpicking a game that’s already a horrific failure of logic. Also, Mumbles has to be a longstanding member of this next season, and she tends to elaborate on whatever good praise she gives a game, whereas pretty much every other Spoiler Warning member brushes the good parts aside to talk about the bad bits.

  4. Viktor says:

    Aww, I was hoping for y’all to tackle DMC at some point. Well, arkham will be fun, as long as you make sure Mumbles’ mike is live when you make her head explode.

    • IFS says:

      Are any of the crew fans of the DMC games though? I get the feeling that DmC wouldn’t be as offensive to someone not familiar with the series, so they wouldn’t have as much to say on it as they did about this game.

      Looking forward to Arkham Asylum though, its my favorite of the Arkham games (I like the tightly designed metroidvania environment a bit more than the more open design of Arkham City, though City is still really good, plus I adore the scarecrow sections of the game). Should be a lot of fun.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      Aww, I was hoping for y’all to tackle DMC at some point.

      Fuck you!

      • Shamus says:

        Wow. That escalated instantly and for no reason. What’s the problem with DMC? Do the devs run a child slavery ring or something?

        (Have not played it. Well, I played one of them. Don’t remember which one. It was about four years ago.)

      • Viktor says:

        DMC is fine on it’s own, with some good(and even great) stuff and some things that miss the mark, but it’s an actual crime against fans of the series, and has a lot of plot points that deserve the Spoiler Warning treatment. It’s Mass Effect 2 with demons. Tell me that’s not perfect for this show.

        • I played one and only one DMC game. I think it was 4 (whichever one came out for the Xbox 360).

          It would be hilarious for Spoiler Warning if it could simulate my confusion over the franchise. I was aware that anime existed, but I hadn’t yet prepared myself for the ridiculous heights it had ascended to in the name of things looking cool and making absolutely zero sense… because it looks cool.

          My brain was trying and failing to process the following: Young D&D type adventurers with impossible hair. Medieval weapons and firearms together, okay. Wait, they have headphones? Is this a Renaissance Festival? What’s with the demons, and why is that old guy wearing a coffee urn on his head? Oh, he’s dead now? Who named these characters? Did they use a “Name Your Infant Hipster” book and a blender? Man, they’re all so grimdark, it’s like a Morrissey concert if he was a Warhammer fan. I still don’t get what’s going on. It’s like every one of these characters is dumb enough to get captured every five minutes…

          …and so on. Maybe I wasn’t ready for the Gonzo Final Fantasy aesthetic, because it just seemed so very, very silly to me.

          • IFS says:

            DMC3 is probably where you should have started, its generally considered the best in the series and has what I consider a solid (if very silly at times) plot with characters that are generally fun to watch in action. DMC4 has great combat, but seems to falter a little in some other areas, though I will say that the silliness is part of the reason those games are fun imo, they aren’t afraid to be over the top and crazy in every way and it provides the whole thing with a very fun sort of energy. A big part of why DmC failed is that it tried to take itself too seriously, replacing that silliness and energy in large part with grime and swearing.

            In some sense I’d say that having that energy is more important to DMC than the actual story itself, the key draw to those games is the intense and skillful action gameplay afterall, the cutscenes and story mainly exist to communicate the same energy and fun as that gameplay more than anything else.

        • Daemian Lucifer says:

          Yeah,but theyd need a fan of the series for that.As a non fan the only thing Ive noticed that was offensive to the fans is the not in a million years line.

          • Sleeping Dragon says:

            Not being a die hard fan of the series I was not as pissed off as many other players. Although I was kinda annoyed with the thing being a reboot it was, I think, mostly on principle. The white hair scene though… that gave me pause. Seriously, whoever thought this was a good idea? Did they think it would come off as a nod and wink?

            • Thomas says:

              I found it hard to get too worked up about DmC because every version of the game the character didn’t really match up with the last. Going from DMC3 Dante to DMC4 Dante was weird, and going from DMC3 Lady to DMC4 Lady was horrible.

  5. John says:

    Okay. This game is terrible. The story is stupid and terrible. The people in the story are stupid and repellent and terrible. The environments are nonsensical, terrible, and frequently just way too brown. On the other hand, Josh sounded like he was having fun some of the time. I can see how you could make a really good game using most of these mechanics.

    I’m seriously considering buying one of the other Hitman games now. My PC is very, very old and feeble, so I don’t think it can handle Blood Money, but Codename 47, Silent Assassin, and Contracts should all be okay. So which one should I get, and why?

    • Viktor says:

      Blood Money is also available on Xbox live. But since it came out in 2006, even an old brick of a computer should be able to handle it.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      Just skip the first one,unless you are a masochist.The rest all play fine,so you can jump in at any point.

      Also,keep in mind that blood money is an old game,so it may run on your machine as well.Check the specs for it before you decide.

      • John says:

        I checked the specs on Steam before I posted. My integrated graphics pose a problem for Blood Money. I’m leaning toward the older stuff at the moment anyway. I started messing around with Wine on my Linux partition this week, and my older games work a lot better than my newer ones.

        • DeadlyDark says:

          Well, you should try several first missions (in Hong Gong) in Codename 47, skip the rest of the game.
          Skip Silent Assassin. And play Contracts. After that, you should try Blood Money, may be on medium this would work.

        • newdarkcloud says:

          My old laptop from 4 years ago ran Blood Money, even with integrated graphics. It might still be worth a try.

          And if you have either a PS3 or a 360, Blood Money has versions on both systems. The PS3 version was solid.

    • Henson says:

      Of course! It was IO’s master plan all along! Make their new Hitman game so terrible, it would increase sales of the previous Hitman games. Genius!

    • Ivan says:

      I would avoid the first one, I don’t think it’s aged well. I played Blood Money and Silent assassin but then I booted up Codename 47, played like 10 min and uninstalled it.

      It was really janky…

    • John says:

      Oho! Looks like Blood Money has a demo on Steam. I’ll have to check it out.

      • newdarkcloud says:

        The demo only included the tutorial section, which is the worst level in the entire game.

        It’s a good way to teach mechanics, but not especially fun in and of itself.

        • John says:

          That’s fine. I need to learn sometime. I’ve actually played the demo for about s half an hour and it’s taught me two things. First, my PC can handle the game. Second, the mechanics are super fiddly. I have gotten through the coin-throwing bit properly exactly one time in I don’t know how many tries.

  6. Tizzy says:

    So, sometimes gamers get a bad rap for entitlement and complaining too easily.

    I can’t help viewing this game as the devs passive-aggressively striking back… As in… “Oh you like to complain? We’ll give you reasons to complain, we can never make you happy anyway…”

  7. Daemian Lucifer says:

    The supercalifragilisticexpialidociously enormous list of stuff the developers of this game dont understand:

    Disguises ; Vision and perception ; Sneaking ; Police ; Fire department
    Fugu ; Reading ; Strip clubs ; Air vents ; Fuse boxes ; Map of the USA
    Bars ; Bar fights ; Game design ; Storytelling and writing
    The difference between their arses and elbows ; Face covering masks
    Peeking ; Rednecks ; South of USA in general ; Porn ; Barber shops
    Hot sauce ; Drugging food ; Bullets and their interaction with explosive things
    Sudbuing ; BDSM ; Deserts ; South dakota geography ; Rattle snakes
    Dogs ; PMCs ; Mesas ; Generators ; Elevators ; Proximity mines
    Mines ; Buildings ; Peoples reaction to car alarms ; Silence ; Fingers
    Nuns ; Assassin groups ; Interrogation ; Security ; Velvet ropes
    Laboratories ; Proper business practices ; Throwing stuff ; Threat evaluation
    Tattoos ; Faces ; Sexuality ; Aesthetics ; Caverns ; Chemicals ; Searching
    Line of sight ; Cake strippers ; Scientists ; Experimentation ; Human speech
    Mopping floors ; Hiding in plain sight ; Hiding in general ; Science ; Instinct
    Security systems ; Evidence ; Male Pattern Baldness (causes and cures)
    Lab Safety ; Bridges ; Extending bridges ; Handrails ; Building Codes
    Engineering ; Physics ; Gravity ; Zippo Lighters
    HVAC Systems (design and installation) ; Isotopes ; Necklaces
    Genetic Engineering ; Serums ; Sample collection safety ; OSHA Requirements
    Flags ; Decorations ; Computers ; Multiple screen setups ; Teenage girls
    Building layouts ; Radios ; Luchadores ; Illegal fighting ; Security checkpoints
    Holds ; Human strength ; Human anatomy ; Broken limbs ; Neck breaking
    Bobbleheads dolls ; RPGs ; Explosions ; Holsters ; Motel walls ; Debris ; Concrete
    C4 ; Electronic locks ; Lockpicks ; Credible threats ; Birthday parties ; Cornfields
    Scarecrows ; Electricity ; Water pipes ; Dialogue ; Detectives ; Helicopters
    Trial ; Corruption ; Motives ; Cause and effect ; Courthouses ; Prison doors
    Wooden packing crates ; Unconscious ; Judicial process ; Foreshadowing ; Pacing ; Gavels
    Suspicion ; Wigs ; Underground construction ; Prisson cells
    Prisons in general ; Chains ; Electricity ; Cell phone reception ; Villains
    Interrogation ; Surveillance ; Ropes in general ; Alarms ; The Agency ; Sivlerballers
    Previous hitman games in general ; Fan service ; Bullet wounds ; Car accidents
    Cisterns ; Ozone ; Fire ; Explosions ; Bottles ; Blood loss ; Lampshading
    Town layouts ; Connecting scenes ; Civilians ; Thigh wounds
    “Walk away from” scenes ; Blindness ; Humor ; Dialogue ; Twists ; Money
    Car alarms in general ; Fountains ; Human bodies in water ; Rain
    Reasons to pump water ; Gay men ; Smoking ; Stains ; Pottery ; Wooden stands
    Retinal scanner ; Elevator cameras ; Cell phones ; Delivery people ; Elevators
    Elevator sertvice hatches ; Elevator shafts ; Fire extinguishers ; Armor ; Decorations
    Carrying large objects ; Safety pins ; That whole thing with the girl ; Posing
    Consistency ; Fog ; Proximity mines ; Climax ; Absolution ; Cemeteries ; Tombs
    Cranes ; Accidents ; Crematoriums ; Booby traps ; Stone ; Bullets ; Taunts
    Radio messages ; One liners ; Informants ; Resolutions ; Epilogues ; Sequel hooks

    Da end?

    • IFS says:

      Is Absolution on the list? I didn’t see it, but it’s possible I missed it as that list has grown into a dense block of text.

      Edit: Ah nevermind, found it. Surprised it wasn’t further up.

    • Michael says:

      Oddly, I didn’t see Ice Cream Trucks, Death, Weapons, Life, Newtonian Physics, or Brain Damage on the list… though I might have just missed some of those.

      Probably should also add Kane & Lynch to the definitive list of things they didn’t understand.

    • McNutcase says:

      One that’s been leaping out at me in the credits montage for this week: what happens when you shoot a guy you have in a headlock. Because you CANNOT PREDICT WHAT THAT IS, and so it’s an abysmally stupid thing to do. The bullet could go straight through. Which, y’know, means you just shot yourself in the arm as well as shooting that guy in the head. Or it could get deflected and wind up who knows where, and the possibility space of “places you really don’t want that bullet” vastly outweighs the space of “places it would be halfway not-sucky for that bullet to go”. “Places that bullet can go that won’t cause immediate huge problems for you” isn’t even in the running. If you have a guy in a headlock, you’re halfway to killing him already, and you can get a more reliable result with far less danger to yourself by going the rest of the way.

    • Alchemist64 says:

      Final Bosses; Final levels in general really

      The final level really didn’t seem that different from the other levels in the game, and the level before it seemed much harder.

  8. Bropocalypse says:

    This game made Fallout 3 look like Spec Ops: The Line.

  9. Oompha Lumpa says:

    Not just Rutskarn you guys, Mumbles seemed to be enjoying herself during her short appearance this season.

  10. Wulfgar says:

    I would’ mind the story if Hitman gameplay was there. But this is bald Sam Fisher wannabe that throw stuff.

  11. Majromax says:

    > Perhaps after staring too long into this abyss and straining to find order behind the chaos I’ve begun to imagine malicious intent where there was no intent at all. If that’s the case, I apologize.

    I think this is it.

    Bad writing, incompetently executed, can at times look like disturbing or malicious writing. As a genre-changing example, consider the romantic relationships in Twilight or Fifty Shades: both can accurately be perceived as abusive relationships, yet the respective authors intended “romantic” and “passionate” interpretations (especially in the case of Fifty Shades).

    The plot of Hitman: Absolution is absolutely incoherent. It flips between characterizations, it has a proliferation of one-dimensional villains, it eschews any sort of subtlety, and it puts on symbolic airs (with religious imagery) that it never earns.

    But we are storytelling creatures, and we try to fit a coherent narrative on the whole experience. We take what was low-effort writing and assume it had intention, in turn leading to our impression that the writers are either sick or assume that the audience is sick.

    • Bropocalypse says:

      It’s what the Axe Cop kid will start to write in high school if he doesn’t grow out of what he does.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      Whats worse with twilight and 50 shades is that plenty of people see them as romantic as well.

      So whats worse about hitman I guess is that plenty of people see the story as good grindhouse omage.*sigh*

      • Majromax says:

        Whats worse with twilight and 50 shades is that plenty of people see them as romantic as well.

        Yes, people are very good at glossing over plot holes or even outright contradictions, mentally re-writing scenes to match what they want.

        In the peculiar case of Twilight and Fifty Shades, that may even be an odd strength: by leaving so much story *out*, the works themselves are a better canvas for reader self-insertion and wish-fulfillment.

        I’m not sure that would really work in a game, but on the other hand a game like Hitman: Absolution does not need to stand on its plot in the same way as a literary work. It just needs enough story to motivate the player to proceed to the next level, and even this story meets that low bar.

        Thus far, in-depth deconstruction like that from Spoiler Warning (or Errant Signal) is the exception rather than the rule for games.

        • Supahewok says:

          “In the peculiar case of Twilight and Fifty Shades, that may even be an odd strength: by leaving so much story *out*, the works themselves are a better canvas for reader self-insertion and wish-fulfillment.”

          This is the first time that the popularity behind those books has made any possible sense to me.

          • Merlin says:

            I’d heartily recommend reading On the Origins of Sparkles if you’re interested in delving a little deeper into it, but yes it’s definitely a feature, not a bug. At least within the context of the story. To try to keep this to the most relevant excerpt:

            Edward wants Bella because she possesses an innate and permanent quality. She will always be infinitely desirable because of the way she smells to him, regardless of whether she gains a hundred pounds or isn’t as hot as she was when she was 17 or has a dramatic personality change. … It’s raw, basic desire sans any bullcrap about personality or beauty present in traditional romance novels.

            It’s also a blunt refutation of everything that women have been told by advertisers and society at large for decades now.

            Bella is desirable to Edward solely because something about her makes him want her. It’s not her clothes, her car, her job, her physical appearance, or anything else that could be packaged and sold (ironically, given how much merchandise the franchise has moved). However, if Meyer provides more characterization, she risks destroying her central trope. If Bella is, say, a brown belt in aikido who plans on going to the University of Washington to study computer engineering, the focus shifts from Bella-as-pure-object-of-desire to Bella-as-interesting person-with-goals-and-plans. If Edward wants her because she has external qualities, the framework disappears.

            • Thomas says:

              I would double read that article, I think its kind of important for people to understand (at least the people who take jabs at Twilight).

            • Jabrwock says:

              I just assumed Bella was popular as a blank slate because the reader could more easily insert themselves in her place in the story.

              I also assumed Bella was instead *written* that way less to be more relateable and more because the writer was someone who couldn’t write a character with more personality than a sheet of cardboard.

              So it was a happy accident (marketing-wise) that this was *exactly* what the audience wanted…

        • Ivan says:

          You’re a Hitman. Shoot dudes, get paid.

          It pains me that this is all they had to do and they chose to… I honestly don’t even know what they attempted. They obviously wanted to do *something* but I guess the real tragedy is that when it became clear that it wasn’t going to work, they tried to force it.

  12. Daemian Lucifer says:

    This felt less like the work of an idiot and more like the petulant mocking of someone who loathed Hitman and hated Hitman fans.

    I dont know.To me it seems like someone watched Tarantino movies(specifically four rooms)and decided to emulate them,but was too inept to do so well.

    • MrGuy says:

      I dunno. This game reminds me more than a little of this Penny Arcade comic…

      • Michael says:

        Actually, that reminds me. Shamus, you do know that the E in Uwe Boll’s name is not supposed to be silent, right?

        • Shamus says:

          I have no idea. “Ew” was just my first guess. How is it properly pronounced? You-we? Ew-we?

          • Thomas says:

            It’s a Germanic name so w’s make a “v” sound and e’s make an “ay” sound. So it’s Ooh-vay Boll.

            • Benjamin Hilton says:

              Just to be pedantic: I have a friend named Uwe and He has always Pronounced it “ooh vah” ( and yes he’s from/lives in Germany).

            • Daemian Lucifer says:

              Oy vey?That doesnt sound that german to me.

              • That reminds me of when he did a Bloodrayne movie that included Nazis (I don’t know if the game franchise does) and he used the same sets, costumes and props (minus Bloodrayne’s, I think) to do a movie about Auschwitz. I can’t bring myself to watch either of them, though I do wonder which more resembles a road accident.

                • Michael says:

                  I think that was the same film where he hired prostitutes to be in the film… and, I think Nazis were a part of the BloodRayne setting, but I can’t be bothered to check.

                  • INH5 says:

                    No, he hired prostitutes for the first Bloodrayne film, which was set in the middle ages (which is centuries before the game character was even born, but we already know Uwe doesn’t care about that kind of thing) and filmed in Romania. There’s a scene where Meat Loaf is surrounded by a bunch of prostitutes, and Uwe decided to hire actual local prostitutes because that would cost less than hiring extras.

                    It’s the third Uwe Boll Bloodrayne movie that was set during WW2 and featured nazis (the second Bloodrayne movie was set in the Wild West, and yes he really made three of these movies), and the first Bloodrayne game was indeed set during WW2 and had you killing nazis. As far as I know, Uwe didn’t hire any prostitutes for that movie.

                    Apparently cost cutting measures like these are one of the main reasons Uwe was able to make so many movies. I read an article several years ago from a screenwriter who worked with Uwe Boll, and he recounted how Uwe insisted that a large part of the movie be set on an island with a tower, because he knows a location like that where he can cheaply get filming permits.

          • Michael says:

            “You-we’s” the most common English pronunciation I’ve heard for his name. Though Benjamin Hilton is probably technically correct, “ou-veh.”

  13. Bropocalypse says:

    Okay! NO! I get it! I know what happened!
    A dedicated Hitman fan found a monkey’s paw. He made a wish upon its dessication and one gnarled finger curled inward. Then this game was made.

  14. Tony Kebell says:

    No, Rutskarn, people were agnry about this game for the wrong reasons. All I heard about was how sexist it was.

    They never mentioned the stupid, poorly written, badly executed gameplay, story, tone and existence.

  15. For whatever it’s worth, I did a little LinkedIn searching for the writers listed in the credits of Hitman: Absolution.

    All of the writers appear to be men (*cough*) from Denmark.

    At least one of them, Michael Vogt, has actual screenwriting experience (and a Master’s Degree in Media Science, no less).

    From my experience visiting Copenhagen, the Danes can have a rather quirky sense of humor. Perhaps the bad writing is indeed intentional?

    • The Rocketeer says:

      I could have sworn I recognized Michael Vogt’s name from some really good work, but all IMDB has him attached to is this game and a couple of video shorts.

      Maybe I was thinking of someone else, or maybe IMDB just doesn’t have most of his repertoire listed.

    • The funniest Dane I know of is Sandi Toksvig. Her little finger has far more with than the entirety of this game, even if you re-arranged the words in the script to create a different script.

    • Thomas says:

      I’m pretty sure the game was in developmental hell. The writing was _so_ bad it can’t reflect well on the writers, but at the same time, I am certain they were brought in, shown these ridiculous character designs, half a dozen levels stitched together that made no sense and barely worked during the level and told ‘write a story about this’.

      And writers have so little power in the games industry that I could believe they were actually told what the story was going to be by the Lead Developer and then asked to ‘write that story’.

      The moment to moment dialogue is still bad enough to earn them a Golden Riter, but I think we should be looking at this failure as a Team Effort! Rather than just the writers fault.

  16. Tony Kebell says:

    By the looks of things on IMDB, nobody who worked on this worked on previous Hitman games, but the producers all worked on Kane and Lynch

  17. Henson says:

    When Rutskarn kept saying “how did this happen?”, I kept thinking of this clip. Appropriate, perhaps?

  18. MrGuy says:

    So, I actually think we learn a lot about why the game is terrible from the credits, and it (to me) makes me SLIGHTLY charitably inclined to the writers. Very slightly.

    Watch the credits. There’s a “producer,” a “lead director,” and then a bunch of technical area directors – the Gameplay director, the Cinermatics director, the Art directors, etc. You’ll notice no one here is credited as a “story” director. So, the cutscenes, the animations, and the gameplay departments all get a “director level” person, but not the script/story.

    After the “directors/producters,” they want to tell us about the programmers. All the programmers. Here to, everyone’s a specialist – there are “Hero” programmers (which, by the way, is hilarious as a title), AI programmers, gameplay programmers, animation programmers. Everyone’s a specialist, and no one’s responsible for any aspect of the game other than a very narrow focus on making a specific mechanic.

    Then we get the UI folks, and the cinematics folks (by the way, the best way to sound full of yourself is to call your terrible cutscenes “cinematics”), the mocap folks. There are animators, and character artists, and environment artists, and fx artists. Again, everyone’s a specialist on their one thing. There are game designers, and level designers galore.

    Then all the music folks get their turn in the sun. Music, sound, etc.

    Then finally, we get to the script folks. And yes, there are several, but about half of these are localization folks.

    Then we have the Tech Support team, and the QA team, then the engine people, and then all the suits for various legal entities that “produced” the game.

    I think this is telling to how they structured their team, and what they value.

    I get that making a game (especially a large one) is a big programming effort, and there’s a need for some degree of specialization. But this feels extreme to me – everyone’s responsible for a very narrow piece, and you can see by how they broke this up that they were thinking of the cutscenes/cinematics as a largely separate group from the gameplay folks, who were different from the art folks, etc. Which is kind of how this game feels – it’s like it was put together by a bunch of people with ideas who didn’t talk to each other. The “instinct” idea makes sense, but it fits in weirdly with the disguise mechanic. The “hide” idea is cool, but was it really intended for pretending to be a scarecrow or a suit of armor? “Visibly armed” is a good thing for people to notice, but it’s weird when you combine it with the ability to hammerspace a sniper rifle.

    And you can see by the ordering that the story is very low on their list. This game was about programmers and artists. The story folks are way in the back, with the tech support and QA folks. The writers don’t have a “director/producer” level lead (where most other departments, like art, cinematics, audio, and gameplay do). The writers aren’t essential to the game. They’re support staff. The power structure in this group is set up so that the writers are there to support what the “important people” who make the “real game” do.

    You can almost see the cinematics director stopping by the writers room. “Hey, guys, we’re going to end the Hope sequence with 47 killing a man in a church at a funeral, then walking away as the whole town burns. Awesome, right? It’s going to look great. So if you can tweak the script so that fits in, that would be great. Thanks.” And then he walks away, because, hey, making the game make sense is their job, not mine.

    • mewse says:

      There absolutely would have been someone in charge of the story; games don’t end up with this much narrative (even this sort of disjointed, confused narrative) if there isn’t someone on the team who’s interested in telling a story. That the credits include no “Story Director” indicates that either that person — whoever they were — was kicked out of the company in a particularly vitriolic way, or that they actively did not want to be credited as the story director. In either case, they normally would be credited as one of the writing staff, instead. (I did this once on an absurdly rushed console game where I didn’t want to be credited as the lead programmer, for example. If you believe that game’s credits scroll, it had no lead programmer.)

      Absolution definitely feels like a game which was cobbled together from a bunch of different threads. Almost like it was a runaway project that had built a lot of *stuff*, but was way over budget and over deadline, and somebody new was brought on to try to stitch all of that *stuff* together using only existing assets and cutscenes.

      The floating water splashes visible in EP 17 were particularly telling, from my point of view. It’s a big and obvious visual problem which *could never* work correctly, and it made it into the release of the game, which indicates that the team didn’t have time to debug visually-jarring but non-game-breaking bugs. Which also fits the “okay guys, drop everything you’re doing because there’s no more time or money. We need to fit together all these different pieces we’ve made into a single story. If it doesn’t work now, we don’t have time to make it work, so we’ll just cut it” events that I sort of suspect sits behind what we’re seeing in the game. In that sort of situation, it’s common to say “We have this level. It adds 30 minutes to the game’s play time, which is already kind of short, so we don’t want to cut it if we don’t need to. But there’s this one graphical glitch on it. Do we keep the level or cut it?” Which ends up being a discussion about how bad the glitch is, and how likely any particular player is to see it.

      I don’t have insider knowledge about what happened at IO Interactive during the development of Absolution. But I’ve definitely seen sudden budget cuts on projects where you just have to drop everything and somehow try to string together the pieces that you already have to make something that kind of vaguely makes a sort of sense as cheaply and quickly as possible. And to me, Absolution feels a lot like that sort of situation.

      (Of course, the sexism and fan-service are still there independently of that. But the whole “Let’s get 47 captured in a cutscene so we can do that next level where he starts out having been captured” thing definitely feels like they’ve papered over a couple missing levels with a single “cheapest line between two points” cutscene.)

      • Majromax says:

        In that sort of situation, it’s common to say “We have this level. It adds 30 minutes to the game’s play time, which is already kind of short, so we don’t want to cut it if we don’t need to. But there’s this one graphical glitch on it. Do we keep the level or cut it

        That also explains the gun-shop and tailor levels, both of which are unique in not having any sort of threat in them.

        • MrGuy says:

          To be fair, the gun shop is only threat-free if you play it a certain way (go have the shooting contest). It allows other ways to play where there ARE threats. If you go hang around the wrong parts of the shop, or try to steal some of the things, you’re in shootytown.

          The tailor’s shop, on the other had, makes ZERO sense not being a cutscene. What, is the blind tailor who knows who you are threatening to see through your disguise and start shooting?

  19. Jack says:

    The names of the jabronies outside the crematorium mean we can add military history to the list of things this game irretrievably screws up . The hoplon is the shield of the Greek hoplite (hence the name), scutum is the name of the most well know Roman Legionary shield, and Aegis is the name of Athena’s shield (yes, the Greek Godess). Gee, you think there is some attempted symbolism there?

  20. Alchemist64 says:

    I feel like meetings about this game during development went exactly like “The Writer Will Do Something,” and that will probably continue into the next game.

    • Michael says:

      To be fair? I think it’s actually the other way round. The earlier Hitman games were contextualized by “the writer will do something.” The writing is really minimalistic between missions. 47 goes to a place, and murders a dude… or two.

      This was those same writers trying to string together a complex narrative. Which, given these were the same people responsible for Kane and Lynch, which was clearly stretching into the limits of their ability, this was kind of a predictable outcome.

      • Thomas says:

        I don’t think the game shows any signs of being designed at the writers whims. Nothing connects together, the levels clash horribly with the writing, there’s no place for the ending cinematics with any of these characters.

        That’s why I think it’s far more likely that this was “The Writer Will Do Something”.

        IO Interactive made a mess of a game, and halfway through development they realised they had 3 cutscenes, some character designs and levels which don’t even make sense as levels and then they said, “save the game, make a story about this”.

        And the writers then made the game even worse.

        • Michael says:

          That doesn’t really mesh with previous games in the series, though. The original game bounces you from Asia to Europe to South America from map to map on “the writers will do something.”

          There’s always been a kind of semi-weak narrative string to the games, but it wasn’t really important. And then Absolution happens, and suddenly the game is supposed to be a “very focused, narrative experience.” What?

          It’s less, “the writers will do something,” because they’ve proven they can. And more, “our executive producer’s teenage son has a script written, so we have to work with this.”

  21. Can we have one episode of Spoiler Warning’s “Arkham Asylum” where each cast member picks a different Batman to imitate? I know there’ll be a fight over Adam West, but Shamus’ “Doctor Claw” impersonation is pretty spot-on for Christian Bale’s “Bat-Voice,” and I think Chris could do a decent Michael Keaton impression.

    If there aren’t enough Batmen, the floor could be opened to the rest of the Bat-family. Rutskarn could be Damien Wayne, maybe? :)

    Edit: Rutskarn’s Bat-Challenge for the Arkham season: He must utter at least one pun per episode in the Burt Ward style of “Holy [INSERT TANGENTAL NOUN, VERB, ETC. HERE], Batman!”

  22. Charnel Mouse says:

    Someone’s probably already commented on this, but it seems as if several levels were designed so as to shine as much light as possible on the weaknesses of the new disguise mechanics, with no one on the team noticing. Only people with the same clothing can recognise you, yet there are levels with unique costumes belonging to someone everyone would recognise, and the levels are frequently chains of small, self-contained spaces, with few enough people in them that their not noticing a stranger wondering around just seems odd.

  23. Ivan says:

    WHOOT!!! YEAH!!! I AM SO HAPPY THAT DEXTER DID NOT GET ANY LAST WORDS! I mean you just walked up to him and shot him in the head! No gloating, no taunting, hell I bet he didn’t even see it coming. And now I will go back to watching the rest of the episode and I will cry if that was a body double. Seriously, I’ve had enough of this guy and his death was just as sudden and pointless as he deserved.

    Edit: KOBHIULGEIOPHOJKKL:JHKHGJLBJFJ<LB<JCHDUTRULV LJK !!!

    HEAD-DESK, HEAD-DESK, HEAD-DESK, HEAD-DESK!

    I knew I shouldn't have dared to hope that this idiot would go quietly…

  24. hborrgg says:

    So does crouch-walking actually make you harder to detect here or is Josh just doing that out of habit from Bethesda games?

  25. Ivan says:

    OH HELL NO! If birdie is going to be in the next one there is no way I will ever give it a chance. Just, they need to expunge this entire mess from the lore because if I have to deal with any sort of continuation of this story I will just rage the entire way through it.

  26. hborrgg says:

    “Alright Praetorians, time to close ranks.” While there’s only 3 of them? I’m starting to suspect that this agency leader really has no idea what he is doing and just gives orders that sound cool.

  27. DeadlyDark says:

    Arkham Asylum? Huh, I’m not sure that there could be some interesting conversations about the game. It’s a great game, but all you could say “It’s good, combat could be improved, comic book reference!” Injustice would be musch more interesting in that regard, I think.

    Personally I was hoping for something like GTAV, where you could find tons of interesting conversations. But if it’s a ploy to make season of, say, Witcher possible, then I salute you.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      They can always compare it to metroid: “And now batman takes off the mask to reveal….she was a woman all along!”.

      • DeadlyDark says:

        Well, this is one possibility*, and may be something enjoyable is really needed after Honkman Honksolution, so I don’t really complain. Just not sure what to make of it and what I should expect.

    • Sleeping Dragon says:

      I don’t see that much conversation coming out of the game either. It’ll probably veer pretty heavily into discussiing the comics, movies and the later games. Which is not necessarily a bad thing.

  28. MichaelGC says:

    *Reinstalls Arkham Asylum whilst doing the Snoopy happy dance*

  29. Thomas says:

    I was giggling through that last episode. The ending is unbelievably bad, I can’t believe they killed the final boss in a cutscene (a really bad cutscene) and then the boss before died to walking up a ladder and being shot.

    This is the worst game Spoiler Warning has ever covered
    ————————————————-
    When they were making Daiktana one of the developers went up to lead developer and head honcho, John Romero, and said “So when the protagonist Cage does this-”

    And John Romero laughed at him “Cage? It’s pronounced Ka-gey”

    “Well tell that to the rest of the team. They’ve already recorded half the audio”

    Hitman Absolution = This

  30. Dev Chand says:

    So I’ve heard that some people are speculating over what happened during the development of Absolution. Well, here’s some information on that which might provide insight into how the game got so screwed up: http://www.hitmanforum.com/t/absolution-full-disclosure/345. Warning: the link is image heavy and won’t be kind to people with bandwidth problems.

  31. Phil says:

    So, having just recently read this about Metroid: Other M, which is worse, it or Absolution?

    Both seem to evoke feelings of the writers having some level of contempt for the audience and/or general incompetence.

    • Ivan says:

      Other M, absolutely. Because as rage inducing as this was, 47 stayed true to his stoic professionalism. Samas Aran on the other hand was the victim of a violent and brutal character assassination. Every thing that happened in that story reflected directly on her.

      Granted I’m probably mostly talking outa my ass, having never played Other M (can you blame me? it sounded horrible!) but I think my point has it’s merits.

      Now excuse me while I go pack to pretending that Other M never existed.

  32. Mathias says:

    You know, I wonder how many of these developers actually worked on Blood Money.

    Like I said in a much earlier video, IO Interactive is based in Denmark, which has a much smaller population of people (and thus logically a smaller talent pool) than the United States. In all likelihood, a lot of the people who worked on this game would have worked on Blood Money too. Maybe it’s just talent dilution from having to ramp up to AAA production values?

    • Dev Chand says:

      I know quite a few people who worked on Blood Money worked on Absolution. The art director of Contracts and Blood Money, Tore Blystad, was the director of Absolution.

      As for Absolution’s problems, they are partly due to Square Enix expecting that it sell 8 million copies, restrictions of the old consoles, a variety of directions that were considered and then dropped etc.

    • Michael says:

      I suspect the biggest culprit was simply not playing to their strengths. Either because of publisher fiat or genuine misunderstanding of their own skills.

  33. lethal_guitar says:

    Arkham Asylum! Yeeeeeeah! Looking forward to that :)

  34. Neko says:

    It was a rogue cell. I’m speechless.

  35. Syal says:

    Wow. Thr Praetorians could have actually be a really good bookend if they were all the people who managed to get the drop on 47 during the game. Like, have Sanchez recognize that 47 is a Hitman because he’s been involved with them before, have Skurky be some kind of anti-infiltration specialist that knows what he’s up against, have a few more of them (probably the gun nuns) and have the last level be 47 killing his way through all of them at once. To get to Dexter, because Travis was pathetic and should never have lasted that long.

    Like, they even set Sanchez up for something like that with the whole “we pumped him full of super juice” thing, and instead of having him be the penultimate target with a bunch of elite Agency folks around him they settled for a man half his size starting a fistfight with him and punching him to death in a public event.

    The more you know about this game the worse it gets.

  36. Grudgeal says:

    This game was horrible. It was a sequence of grindhouse setpieces with little to no coherence, plot or subtlety. The dialogue was bad, the character gallery dreadful and the gameplay didn’t underbuild the story.

    …And yet, that’s some of the same things I thought of the Arkham games, Arkham City especially. The games just seemed to me like a set of Batman setpieces with questionable coherence and a lacking plot, with most of the dialogue being Batman saying some variant or other of “I’M BATMAN, YOU WON’T GET AWAY WITH THIS” and the villain going “I’m [Villain], here is my [villain catchphrase], and I will get away with this” in an appropriate tone. Only, the Arkham games were generally good in spite of that. Well, Asylum was at any rate.

    • Thomas says:

      On the other hand, you could look at Arkham Asylum as being the opposite of Hitman: Absolution. Asylum was constructed according to so much purpose that it even created a sense of time passing as Batman travelled through the Asylum. Every location was a place that fitted logically together and physically walked from one area to another, often backtracking through places you had been.

      Then the set-pieces and NPCs in those locations themselves were all designed to gradually show you Arkhams descent into chaos and to emphasise the mood and pressure Batman was under. Every mechanic emphasised his character and captured the feel of Batman. Even his [i]cape[/i] was matched up to the levels and events to convey the mood.

      Contrast that with Hitman Absolution where you walk through a mining area to get to an office block where you travel underground through a super laboratory and climb into a wrestling ring. The NPCs are scattered willy nilly and there’s no sense of consistency from one area to the next and Agent 47 barely ever assassinates anyone.

      ———-
      Admittedly City is worse than Asylum for this, they literally copied and pasted what they did in Asylum even when it made no sense (including the one-night-of-hell thing), that’s why I prefer Asylum a lot more than City.

      But even still, City was miles more consistent than Absolution. You had a cohesive area, you saw mooks take control and fight for dominance through it as the game progressed, and even saw the bad guys planning which area they’d take over next.

    • Jay Allman says:

      Whew! Someone else who doesn’t think “Arkham City” was the greatest chocolate sundae ever created. I don’t feel so miserably alone now.

      Oh, it was fun, and I played it through several times. But it rapidly burned out on me because the story quickly began to grind on my nerves. The plot has more railroad tracks than a Burlington Northern switchyard and is built as an infuriating series of nested side quests: Before you can fight Dr. Strange you have to cure the Joker by fetching a serum being held by Freeze who’s been kidnapped by Penguin and can’t do his job unless you defeat Ra’s. By the time you’ve reemerged from that ludicrously deep pit of ad hoc plot complication you’ve totally forgotten about the main story, only to be shoved back into it and find that a few gladiator pits and two predator rooms are enough to bust Dr. Strange. TL;DR: If you could ignore Catwoman at the start, you could finish the game in five fights and twenty minutes. This is not an attribute of a well-constructed game story.

      Also, as Grudgeal notes, AC’s dialogue is inane when it isn’t actually bad.

      I know I’m in a much smaller minority–I seem to be the only person in the world–who thinks “Arkham Origins” handily bests the first two games. Sure, it’s got problems, as Shamus has described well. But if you master the “redirect” technique the fight system is as good as AC’s (which improved on AA’s), and the writing is leagues better than either AA or AC. The plot tracks are well-hidden, the story actually has a character arc, and the dialogue– Well, it may not be consistently brilliant, but it sounds like David Mamet next to AC and AA.

      I am definitely looking forward to seeing AA featured here.

      • Thomas says:

        The ending of Arkham City is also the stupidest crud ever. I get what they were trying to do, but they failed horribly. If you they wanted to do that they shouldn’t have had Talia there.

        And if you don’t do one of the race-tutorials you never learn how to swoop and it’s very easy to dismiss the race tutorials as rubbish.

  37. The game is a jumble.
    Take the Herse thing in the last episode, it’s parked outside when you enter the church.
    Then there is a dramatic walk-away scene as you walk away from the church.
    Then you are in the Herse driving away.

    It’s clear that there is no continuity here. Stuff was finished out of order, stuff was (probably) outsourced, things cut or not finished in time and they had to glue it all together.
    All speculation obviously, damn I’d love a postmortem on this game.

  38. krellen says:

    This game makes me ashamed to admit to liking video games.

  39. Nanoproksee says:

    Awful game, but great season nonetheless.

  40. RTBones says:

    I had intended to comment on this final episode, but after watching it, am just left scratching my head thinking, “Whaaaat…?” Why do you have to make that door go asplodey when you could just kick it in – or pick the lock like you do everywhere else – or just, you know, OPEN it? You dont even *try* the door before you blow it up.

    Arkham Asylum…”likely going to be”? Does that mean it may be one of the other of the Batman franchise, or that there may be a technical reason why the game changes? Just curious – ‘likely going to be’ is not ‘will be’. I realize this is perhaps a bit pendantic of me, but this is Spoiler Warning after all. For everything a reason, for everything a season….

    On a completely unrelated note – I have recently caught up on my Diecast listenings. Mumbles, if you’re reading, I will simply say many congratulations. That sounded absolutely epic.

    • My guess is Shamus said “likely going to be” as a hedge against any unforeseen technical issues. Maybe the cutscenes won’t stream or a certain button combo will cause Josh’s machine to crash. It’s not likely, but I think Shamus’ attempt to stream Deus Ex I and (if I recall correctly) problems with one of the KOTOR games raised a few concerns about certainty where video games are concerned.

  41. Joey says:

    *sigh of relief* Thank goodness this season’s over. Don’t get me wrong, I love watching you guys rag on and on about story and cutscene dumbness and ludonarrative dissonance and failing legacies but…this game…this game was just painful to watch, even with you guys along for the ride. Just…urgh.

    So, is Arkham Asylum a set-in-stone thing, or are you guys still deciding? Because if it’s the former, then that’d be cool. If it’s the latter, then may I make a suggestion?

    XCOM: Enemy Unknown.

    It’s a revival of an old brand, so Shamus and Josh could compare it to the original, and see how it measures up. Chris has already endorsed it on the DieCast, so he’d have some interesting things to say. Rutskarn could really get into the roleplaying of spectacular soldiers, while Mumbles would be there doing her thing. There’s plenty of unconventional, questionably-useful tactics, so the spirit of Reginald Cuftbert could shine through as the Commander of XCOM. For bonus points, you could even name the soldiers after yourselves, or even after the characters from other seasons of Spoiler Warning!

    It doesn’t have to be on the hardest difficulty, or even include the Enemy Within expansion pack. Josh doesn’t even have to be doing all that well, all things considered.

    I dunno. Just a thought. I think it could be cool.

    Still, looking forward to whatever you guys do. Keep being awesome y’all!

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