The world in which Agent 47 exists has always been about the story, about the ability of one man with a rare set of skills to change history, project power, and punish those who have been designated by entities ranging from corporation to government agencies and, rumor has it, national leaders, who come to the International Contract Agency (ICA) to obtain what amounts to appropriate justice – whether that meant the appearance of a natural death, an accidental death, or a very public and brutal death. The value that 47 had for the ICA cannot be doubted, and his unmatched record of success after success while certainly partly-due to his rare – some might say perfect – genetics, also owe at least partial acknowledgment to his single-minded pursuit of the goal.
Fans of the series know that despite the stringent checks and balances put in place by the ICA Board abuse was still possible – and it happened. The most obvious example being the incredible success that Dr. Ort-Meyer had not only in inserting his hand-crafted assassin in the form of Agent 47, but in manipulating the ICA to use his tool to make his revenge. Ort-Meyer played the Agency like a fiddle, and played it well, but in the end was hoisted upon his own petard in a manner that Shakespeare might have devised.
Most of the fans of the series and of Agent 47 have come to expect a certain combination of the rigid mechanics, daunting patience, and the frenetic pace of stories that bounce all over the world, and that feature a wide variety of targets that require very different tactics in order to successfully deal with them and deliver the resolution that they so clearly deserve. Aspects of the previous titles in the series that we suspect play a very large role in the mixed feelings that this fifth title, Hitman: Absolution, has provoked.
While there have been some vocal critics in the community who have declared this to be a betrayal of the series and of the fans, that is a ludicrous notion; the style of play is no less subdued and the essence that is Agent 47 is perfectly present. When they criticize the changes to the game play style and the different elements that have been introduced, they do so at the risk of having pointed out to them that this has always been the tradition of the series! One only need look at the experience of Codename 47 and compare that to Silent Assassin in order to understand how the game and its game play experience can change radically from one title to the next.
We suspect that this vocal dissatisfaction is rooted in the desire for a return to the previous experiences that were had – and well liked – in Blood Money, but the answer to that must be to point out that for the game to remain static is for it to stagnate.
To put this in a narrower perspective for you, the differences in play style between Absolution and Blood Money might have been moderated had the story in Absolution been similar to that of Blood Money, with the same style of vignette challenges that bounced all over the world, and so offered the player a very different environment for each chapter. But that is not the case in Absolution, which is a much more linear and tighter story, a decision that was necessary because the focus of Absolution is to gather in all of the loose elements of the previous four titles and wrap up the outstanding issues, resolve the remaining conflicts, and provide closure to the story, and in that set of goals it has succeeded admirably!
The important thing to remember as you begin this fifth and closing chapter to the first and very long story of Agent 47 is that in closing this window, the developers open a new door. By resolving all of the conflicts and the issues that came before in one fell swoop, the creative types at IO have essentially created a tabula rasa from which Agent 47 can emerge in the next game in the series with a new focus, a new enemy, and a new and thrilling story to share with the fans.
All of this should be remembered as you take your first steps into this new adventure, and considering the weighty nature of what amounts to a resolution stage, particular care should be taken to drink in and appreciate all of the details. If you have been following this story since the very beginning in Codename 47 then you are about to experience the culmination of literally more than a decade of entertainment and intrigue! This has always been a story about Agent 47, and in spite of the many different intrusions into his world that have taken place, it remains a story about Agent 47 – and considering that he is you, and that you have been stepping in and out of that role for more than a decade now, it seems fitting for you to look towards the future as you embrace this excellent story and the meaningful resolution that it provides.
Right then, enough preaching. We have stated our case here, and we believe that we have stated it well. If you are still in the minority that feels that the game is less than it should be, and that it sucks in comparison to the previous games, there is really only one answer we can give you: embrace the suck!