Pit and Peak: Why Remaster Hitman: Blood Money and Absolution?
Rarely equaled. Never bettered. If Agent 47 of the Hitman series had a mantra this would probably be it. The Silent Assassin has been a figure in the stealth action sub-genre for the past nineteen years. The bald head, bar-code and sharp suit are the defining features of the famed killer-for-hire just as stealth, grimy locations and unforgiving controls are the backbone of the early games. It makes sense then to remaster Hitman: Blood Money – the ostensible peak of the series – just as it makes little sense to remaster Hitman: Absolution.
Despite their obvious and glaring differences in gameplay Blood Money and Absolution are quite similar in terms of their tone. Both feature unusual, uneasy locations – a rehab centre for mobsters, a Catholic orphanage, the White House – as well as sharing the same pitch black sense of humour the Hitman series has had since its inception. This isn’t the first time these games have been remastered either. In fact it’s Blood Money’s second time getting a fresh coat of paint. Hitman 2: Silent Assassin, Hitman: Contracts and Hitman: Blood Money were given the HD treatment on PlayStation 3 and XBox 360.
These kinds of decisions make sense especially as gaming history can often be functionally lost to us with every new console generation. Still these kinds of remasters are often geared towards fans of the originals that didn’t have the foresight to hold onto their dusty relics of the early 2000s. It’s rare that they attract a huge number of new fans. Hell it’s rare that a new Hitman game attracts new fans. At the time of writing this remastered duology hasn’t even gotten a trailer which is fair enough.
IO Interactive know that their audience is relatively small compared to the granddaddy of stealth action: Metal Gear Solid. IO Interactive should also know that while Hitman: Absolution has its fans and that attitudes to it may have softened since its release in 2012 it is still the most hated game amongst the majority of Hitman fans. Absolution tried to tell a story – an admirable feat considering Agent 47’s emotional range – but the linear design of the game world along with its stupidly outlandish characters left the story gasping for air.
These games have told stories before, a difficult task considering the wide variety of mission locations and nearly endless supply of villains/targets. Hitman: Codename 47 had Agent 47 track down the men that created him. Hitman 2: Silent Assassin saw the bald contract killer rescue a priest who had shown him kindness. Hitman: Blood Money threw in a series of interconnected missions towards the end of the game involving inferior clones and assassins. Hitman: Absolution was the first game whose locations were inextricably connected to its story.
Suggested Reading: Hitman Understands the Power and Pain of Uniforms.
At the beginning of Absolution it is revealed that Diana Burnwood – 47’s much trusted handler – has betrayed the International Contracts Agency (ICA) forcing 47 to kill her. Before she dies Diana reveals that the Agency asset she stole is a genetically engineered girl named Victoria. Not wanting the ICA to have another human weapon akin to himself 47 takes the girl and goes on the run from Chicago to South Dakota and back to Chicago. Each mission, from the rain-slicked streets of Chicago to the dust-choked town of Hope, South Dakota, is linked to its location as they would be in a normally structured Hitman game. These locations are far too repetitive and offer too little of what makes a Hitman game great: targets.
Whether it’s killing bio-terrorist brothers in a Romanian hotel, garroting a cello-playing Cartel leader or sweating a mobster to death in a sauna Hitman knows how to make killing people feel fun and, in a twisted way, morally right. Absolution had its fair share of memorable targets. The massively mutated bodyguard, the gang of greasers in Hope or the professor you could feed to pigs. The problem was that getting to them often felt too easy. One or two costume changes and you were there. It wasn’t like Contracts where assassinating an English nobleman and his son felt insurmountable.
Contrary to what this article says I don’t hate Absolution. I think it’s a good action stealth game with a flimsy story but it’s very much a bad Hitman game. It’s a blip on the radar which makes its remaster so strange. Surely a remaster (maybe even a remake) of Contracts makes more sense especially as it complements Blood Money so well. It’s like The Smashing Pumpkins remastering Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness alongside anything they did afterwards. If there’s one thing Absolution does need from this remaster it’s the “Improved Lighting” that’s promised. Good God those filters were an eye sore.