Christmas Eve

Everything is set. The turkey is brining, the trifle is assembled, the parsnips and potatoes are thoroughly “gratin-ed”, the sauces are mainly made, and the ham is baked. Oh, and the sourdough bread is baked. It has been a busy day, with lots of cooking and cleaning, but Christmas day is almost upon us. Or is actually upon us, depending on your opinion regarding the official start of the day. For me it’s waking up half-aware of what is going on, and suddenly, in a wave of overwhelming excitement, realising it is Christmas day. It’ll be a fairly early start, in order to get the turkey drained and into clean water, in preparation for going into the oven. What else have I been doing with my time? Clacking away on my IBM Model M, and playing Hitman.

Hitman: Absolution, the most recent installment in the Hitman series, was released last November to a mixed reaction. Some loved the detailed graphics, and wide range of usable objects and weapons, and ways to complete missions, while others were less impressed by the “detective-style” Instinct mode, similar to the Batman games, and the ability of enemies to see through the player wearing the same type of costume as them. I have enjoyed most of the time I’ve spent playing Absolution, but some missions drag on unnecessarily, offering few truly stealthy approaches, and occasionally the difficulty is inflated for no good reason. In one instance, you are trying to escape from the police at a train station and as part of that, you run into an engineer in the signal room. Taking their costume would let you slip by the police unnoticed, but for some unknown reason, that option is unavailable for that one NPC. Levels are fairly self-contained, allowing a little exploration within a small map, but levels that appear larger are often enclosed by physical or invisible barriers. Some of the physical obstacles are quite intelligently done – in the small town of Hope, when you try and walk beyond the mission area, the level crossing barriers close and a freight train passes. If anyone has experience of these particular vehicles in America, they will know that these trains can go on forever! But the use of invisible walls in this day and age feels incredibly dated, and puts little trust in the player to find their own way. I do really like the “goon” or “henchman” backstories though. Every so often you’ll be walking or sneaking past an enemy character only to hear them burst out into conversation with the friend next to them, something along the lines of:

“You know, I didn’t think I’d be a dad at this age, but it’s amazing all the same”

or

“You mean I don’t have prostate cancer?! That’s great news doc!”

He mightn't have prostate cancer, but he'll soon have a bad case of being-pulled-out-a-window-and-thrown-over-a-cliff-into-the-ocean...itis

He mightn’t have prostate cancer, but he’ll soon have a bad case of being-pulled-out-a-window-and-thrown-over-a-cliff-into-the-ocean-itis

These are often cut off by the sound of a bullet entering their skull, or in some cases, a fire extinguisher. It is a fun game, but really relies too heavily on the Instinct mechanic which can make the game both easier, and more difficult at the same time. It’s worth a look, particularly since I paid £5 for it on The Game Collection.

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