Xbox

The Nasty Jokes Hitman: Absolution Didn't Have To Make

Hitman: Absolution is a game that requires a lot of sneaking around, and like most sneaking games, you’ll find yourself regularly incapacitating guards and stashing their bodies. Every time you stash a guard in closet, his body will slump standing up over to the left side of the enclosure.

Every closet can hold two bodies, so if you knock out another guard and stuff him in there with the first guy, he’ll slump forward so his rear is end up against the first guard’s crotch. The effect is such that the two men appear to be mid-coitus.

Funny, right? Well…

On its face, it’s a dumb, easy joke. If it happened one time, maybe to characters who were defined, or who spent the game loudly asserting their heterosexuality, it could even work. As it stands, it elicits a bit of a titter the first time, but then it happens again, and again, and again.

It combines with other things to give Absolution — a relatively sophisticated game, in terms of design — an air of lowbrow nastiness that it would’ve been better without. As I mentioned in my review, the women in the game are all either prostitutes, killers, wank material or some combination thereof. The sole female occupants of an early-stage hotel are: a mean old woman who spends all of her lines berating men and calling them dickless losers, and a maid who is later grabbed and brutally throat-slit in service of the plot. In a later scene, a developmentally disabled man, derisively referred to by his friends and father as “limp dick,” is goaded into murdering an unarmed nun.

The “Saints,” the much talked-about assassin nuns from that now-infamous commercial, are explained via overheard dialogue as the product of domestic abuse, which… I guess eventually led them to dress up in latex S&M garb and become killers? It’s not really explained. They’re like Metal Gear Solid 4‘s Beauty and the Beast unit, but one tenth as interesting.

I’m not on a politically correct crusade here. Off-colour, exploitative jokes are generally fine, if they’re done well. My gripe isn’t so much that this stuff is potentially offensive, it’s just that it’s kinda lazy and bad. The game features a lot of gleefully ridiculous, well-performed and good writing (more on that later today), so it’s a shame that some of it misses the mark.

Hitman: Absolution frequently features offensive or disgusting content of the enjoyable sort, but just as often an undercurrent of dumb nastiness detracts from what’s an otherwise very fun, sadistic stealth game. It feels miscalculated and not very self-aware, like the game is trying too hard.

“See? See?” The game says, “It’s like they’re gay even though they’re not. Isn’t that hilarious?”

No. Now quit distracting me, I’m trying to kill people over here.