In one sense Hitman Absolution is a lonely game and part of a lonely series. The character you play as is Agent 47. All of 47’s, attempts at becoming a better man are frustrated. He is genetically engineered for one purpose – to kill. In the second game he begins a quiet life of gardening in a monastery. He confesses his sins to his friend, the priest, and it appears as though he is set on a path of spiritual guidance. Moments later the priest leaves the confessional and is kidnapped by the local mafioso. The intel required to rescue his friend means that he must commit a murder in return. 47 is thus drawn back into the business of murder.
In Hitman Absolution, several games later, the game is at its best where it follows this dynamic and 47 is caught in the same double bind. Being an instrument of death with a conscience. He is unable to relate to people other than by struggling against his makeup. He is built to hide in plain sight and thus to be alone. He is kept company by a spirit of dark humour that seems to pervade Absolution. This is where the game is at its strongest.
Near the start of Absolution an enemy guard character is engaged in a phone conversation. He is massively relieved as he tells someone on the other end that he does not have prostate cancer as he had feared. He is then pulled out of a window to his death on rocks below. It reminds me of this scene in Austin powers – ‘People never think about how things affect the family of a henchman’. I can’t help but smile.
Another touch of dark comedy is to be found in a hotel where one of the antagonists Dexter is staying. In that hotel there is a crime scene where a man is supposed to have bludgeoned himself to death with a wrench. One maid cleaning up the gore muses on the telephone that she didn’t think it possible for someone to kill themselves this way. Again I can’t help but smirk. Perhaps this dark humour is the only way somebody like 47 can make it through the day.
The apotheosis of this dark humour is a cut scene where 47 is forced to endure the desperate ramblings of a ridiculously dressed Sushi delivery man in a lift. He asks 47 whether he thinks that he is stupid or dyslexic. Confronts him with a flurry of problems from his own life and I’m sure makes 47 thoroughly uncomfortable.He asks himself the question that 47 must ask himself every day – ‘What’s wrong with me?’ and ‘Do you think I should get tested’. We can’t help but be relieved when the lift doors open and he is accidentally shot to pieces. The guards are more concerned about getting the sushi delivered then with having killed the poor man.
This macabre comedy means that, like 47, we don’t have to face the horrors too directly. The game’s strength lies here with this lonely killer/ dark humour interplay. This is, in a sense, the Hitman Brand. I would recommend this game on the basis of this brand. At the same time I have to criticize the game for the many points at which it panders to a more broad action genre audience. As the game proceeds it begins to include ridiculous things like button bashing quicktime events – Including wrestling with a massive Mexican bodyguard in a cage fight. It is really regrettable that the maker chose to include elements like these.