The Unfinished Gamer: Hitman Absolution

Welcome back, Agent 47.

I know I’m late to the game, but that’s why I am dubbed the “Unfinished Gamer”.  Most of the time I find myself so immersed in a game, ready to complete it when I hit a wall of sorts.  It may be distractions, work, family, or just nothing at all.  I came upon Hitman again after a long draught of not playing games at all, and was so happy I had given it another chance.

As a fan of the series, this is actually only the second of the four console-released Hitman games I have ever finished.  Why? Because it’s controls have improved so far beyond its original capacity that it made the game less frustrating, more intuitive and allowed 47 to be a little more crafty and showcase his expertise as an assassin.  Details are present; If you are walking on wood versus concrete, the sound is different.  If you fire your specialized Silverballer pistols versus a UMP in the game, the suppressor sounds much different than non-suppressed and the AI will act accordingly.  Even though it was a little far-fetched in a sense that 47 would be noticed instantly in disguise…I felt that the mechanics for dumping or stashing a body, stealing a uniform and utilizing improvised weaponry were all improved in this latest installment to make up for this minor flaw.

Kills are more brutal and 47 shows that he is back, with a vengeance.

In a previous blog, I mentioned that I put the game down for a while because I was frustrated only to pick it back up and find out that the area I had been working on was simple to pass and I was back on my feet in no-time.  (Yes, in the strip club.) The atmospheres in the game vary and with each changing locale, civilians come in more than one form! Chefs in Chinatown, Mechanics downtown, doctors in the lab, all obstacles to get around in each area.  Each environment has different things to interact with, too.  Hide as a hotel maintenance worker by grabbing a mop, or a civilian waiting for a train by grabbing a pamphlet at the kiosk.  Do you want to make the target suffer an accident and escape unseen? Or do you want to get up close and personal? So many choices in each area.

This the first game in the series that I feel has an actual (substantial) story, and isn’t just a series of contracts with a very loose storyline.  Diana, your handler from the Agency, is your first target and the tutorial level is a great opening for the game.  Turns out you have to find and protect a very special little girl but don’t worry, I won’t explain rest as it does get pretty intense. The voice work of stars Powers Boothe, Tracy Lords and Vivica Fox are actually done very well, and kudos to Marsha Thomason (Diana) and David Bateson on his reprisal of Agent 47 as they brought these characters back to life. The character design on these principals as well as some of the other AI was great, enhancing the visuals to a standard reaching beyond even that of Hitman: Blood Money.

When I finally came to the bitter end of Hitman: Absolution and the credits began to roll, I was struck with this horrible feeling… It is over. I was so hooked to this game after picking it up from my hiatus that I was very sad to see that it had been completed.  Even though the replay is moderate on it, due to their user-created contracts and harder difficulties and challenges, that first playthrough ending usually cuts the deepest. Though I must admit that as the game went on and the AI became ridiculously evil I had to shoot em up, despite the scores being rated on sneakiness and style…but I at least attempted style.

This is the type of game that takes a very patient gamer, one who enjoys gritty and brutal gaming, stealth, improvised gaming and perhaps, a completionist due to the scoring and ranking the game does with you and your friends list. The game pulled far enough from its predecessors and maintained most of the nostalgia (cue: Ave Maria) and it was very much worth the wait.  Hats off to you, IO Interactive and Square Enix.  Between all of the replay factors I listed above and Easter Eggs in the game, I’m sure I will be back to attempt this as a Professional.

Likes:
Visuals are stunning
Voice acting and sounds are incredible
Replay= moderately high
Controls are 10x better than previous games
47 is back. ❤

Dislikes:
AI notices you in disguise way too quick, even on lower difficulties
A couple of hiccups in gameplay
Villain’s were easily unlikable though their motives were only lightly developed
I have to wait years before possibly hearing of another installment, maybe? (no spoiler)

I give Hitman: Absolution a 4 out of 5.

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The Case of Nerdville Vs. Hollywood

Alright I know everyone out there in Comicland is very upset about the new Batman choice. In fact, I’ve heard that people are petitioning for WB to re-cast the billionaire/vigilante. I must ask, WHY? Why get so upset at something that you can’t entirely control? Don’t start with the: “the people have a voice and the people will be heard” nonsense, because I know it’s true I mean look at the XBox One. Yes, they’re listening to the people and changing their policies to please people but they’re not removing the entire machine and switching it out for a completely different one.

Now if you’re still reading, you’ll be surprised to see that I am not against this. I’m not for it either.  Affleck will do with Bruce what he will, and even though I am upset as a Marvel fan who got burned after watching DareDevil (x_x), I have actually seen him grow as an actor/director (like in the award-winning film ARGO) and I am looking forward to seeing how he handles the role.

Stephen Amell (Arrow) himself said it best — as seen on his Facebook:

Now I’m not sure about the whole Twilight reboot, Stephen, but I wholeheartedly agree. I have grown up a huge Marvel fan and taken a dose of DC here and there. I missed the Smallville bandwagon when it was running but have enjoyed what I’d seen so far. Now, Arrow, I have seen Season One. At first I was not sure how I felt about it…After two episodes, I was hooked. This gentleman, Stephen Amell was not known to me until this role. I was skeptical because it was CW, even though they surprised me with The Vampire Diaries, Supernatural and if we wanna go old school, WB originally housed one of my favorite shows, Charmed.  But back to my point, Arrow has been done well. I loved Brosnan as Bond, and lost him to Craig and watching those films I fell in love with his version of Bond all the same.

The bottom line is, kill the chatter. Give up on the franchise, do what you will but the show will go on. As much as we want to be heard and as much as we would like to do our own fantasy castings for a few of our favorite things, we can’t change what Hollywood has in store.

Now I have a lot more to say on the issue but that’s my two cents for now. Keep your eyes peeled for more.

-IC Krys

My Top Ten for Expo

Hey Players, we are on our way to the Gamestop Expo next week, and IC is giving our Top Ten “to see” list prior to going. Keep an eye out for our follow up list once we return; we will let you all know what we were able to experience and do another Top Ten list!


10: The Consoles

 To get this out of the way early, Yes I am looking forward to the consoles. Not because I want to scramble and trample on day one and be instantly broke…but because I really want to see what the next generation has to offer. I’m content with my PS3 and XB360 for now, but the PS4 and XBox One looked impressive on TV. Now’s my chance to get hands on.
9: Outlast
Do I want a heart attack? Do I want to possibly leave the showroom floor screaming? Perhaps. It’s bad enough that I get anxiety thinking about Slender or even Siren Blood Curse, but I’ve watched 2 playthroughs of the Outlast demo and I still want to be scared out of my mind, first hand, to see if I can handle it.  Survival Horror is one of my favorite genres, and I heard this is one that can’t be missed.
8: Call of Duty: Ghosts
Love it. Hate it. Love it. Hate it. This game has become quite tedious the last few years, with every game stepping only an inch beyond their predecessors. I’m looking forward to seeing what they can do with Ghosts to go beyond MW3 or even Black Ops. Hopefully. I am excited that you can be a woman, but don’t get me wrong. I can still blast opponents away as a guy. No worries there. COD Ghosts had some interesting new features and I can’t wait to check this one out. 
7: Pokemon
Catch ALL of the things!  I’ve missed a quite a bit since Pokemon Pearl.  After seeing what new concepts/gameplay X & Y has to offer, I truly do hope this will help out Nintendo and their sales because Pokemon is a great franchise!  Here’s to hoping that it is available to check out while we’re there!
 6: Grand Theft Auto V
Party like a Rockstar.  Are you surprised? I am. I didn’t think GTA V would make it to my list at all until I saw some of their latest trailers.  GTA IV didn’t interest me as much, though the PC version generated some interesting mods.  GTA V, even after reading the ESRB’s official verdict on it, looks like a refreshing new way of playing this loved (and hated) franchise. 
5: Indie Games
Sometimes the best games are the sleeper games. Many of these are independently developed.  Titles like Limbo and PixelJunk Monsters easily became my favorite games after being shown by other people.  To those gamers, I am grateful–because it goes to show that it doesn’t take thousands of dollars in marketing to make a good game.
4: TellTale Games
The Walking Dead: Season 2 & the Wolf Among Us are definitely on my radar. I couldn’t pick one between these titles because I’ve definitely fallen under their spell. Consequence based storytelling and intense action with compelling characters have always captured my attention, and they have this concept down! I hope either one of these is playable!
3: Battlefield 4
Gorgeous scenery, destructible environments and of course, guns. Lots of guns.  I enjoyed what I played of Battlefield 3, but since I “hung up the guns” and stopped playing FPS for a while, I am excited to experience the new game.  (Though after watching the 17-min footage they had posted a while back, I am already sold!)
2: Elder Scrolls Online
MMOoooooohhh yeah. MMORPG is another genre I haven’t touched in a long while, mostly because of cost and even on those free-to-play ones: time.  After journeying through Skyrim, Oblivion and other lands therein, I decided ESO will be my first MMO to pick up after this apparent “fast” of MMO gaming. I look forward to openly exploring the familiar lands, and of course, getting lost in the dungeons to loot. Everything.
1: Ubisoft
Ubisoft are definitely one of my favorite studios, and even though I’m a step behind the rest in the AC series, I am looking forward to seeing Black Flag in action, as well as The Division. Ubisoft also brings the Frag Dolls, who are my gaming idols! But, when all is said and done–I must say that the #1 slot on my list will truly go to WATCHDOGS. The last game that intrigued me from the start and didn’t disappoint was The Last of Us, and Watchdogs seems to bring that same allure. 

Hitman: Insomniac

Here’s my short rant:

Ever have a game that frustrated you so much you put it down, only to pick it back up and realize that the part you were stuck on for [years] was so damn easy?  Yes, that happened to me.  Several times.  I’m notorious for putting down such epic games and not being able to pick them back up again for a great while.  Recently, it has been Hitman: Absolution.  I have only ever finished one Hitman title and that’s Hitman 2: Silent Assassin. I came close with the third installment, Contracts and was about halfway through Blood Money but please don’t get me started with the first one…(the PC only, Hitman: Agent 47, is by far one of the most difficult games to get through…no, not because Troll: “I’m a girl and not a true gamer” or whatever, but because it was truly a difficult game to control and progress.)  At any rate, Absolution caught my attention yet again and I am thrilled to be playing through it.  The story has kept my interest, the mechanics have improved leagues and leagues above its predecessors, and Agent 47 is pure badass.  Just saying.

What was I stuck on?  Getting into a strip club.  Why I was stuck here?  I don’t even know.  I picked it back up, threw on a disguise and walked through the door. Ta-Da!

I’m sadly amused at the little things when I can’t sleep.

Once it’s finished I’ll give my review/bloggerview of it, for sure.

-IC Krys

400 Days of TWD

            
            I originally wanted to do this in review format, but decided to blog it as TWD will be an ongoing series for me to cover. Hope you all enjoy. 

            For those of you who do not know, I am a very huge TWD fan.  When Season One was first announced, I was entirely skeptical of it.  The cell-shaded graphics, the new characters not seen in the show, save Glen and a few others…then there was the unusual route of storytelling and gameplay, which I thought would be a nail in the coffin; another failed title to a very famous and thrilling zombie franchise.  TellTale, however, nailed it.  Once I sat down and had a chance to play through Season One, I was hooked.  It was one of the games I have come across that actually lived up to the hype.  Once 400 Days DLC was announced, it was a no-brainer.  I had to continue the story.

            The characters in the game are memorable.  In Season One, The main character, Lee Everett, was a man of mystery.  From the very beginning with the dialogue between him and the cop, to the very end, you find that there is more to him than meets the eye.  This makes a game all-the-more compelling, I believe, when a character is relatable, unlikeable, admirable, honorable, all-in-one.  Lee had some skeletons in his closet, and by the end of the game you discover, as it all comes to light, what sort of person he truly is.  Love him or hate him, his character had depth and that was enough for me to grow attached to him, regardless of his decisions.  His companion, the young Clementine, was adorable.  Possibly one of the best companions I have ever had in a game, hands down.



            As a kid, choose-your-own adventure books were my favorite books to read.  I discovered point-and-click adventure games on my PC back in the day, and developed a passion for this style of storytelling.  TellTale took this style and added twists, turns, excellent dialogue and a dash of action and definitely perfected it.  When I say perfect, I don’t say that the game is perfect in a sense that there are no glitches.  Sure, the game had a few bugs here and there but it came pretty darn close to perfect (in my opinion).  The controls are smooth and intuitive, and the timed button-presses make sense to the action performed.

            When it came to a close at the end of Season One, I was upset. Why? Not only did the game draw emotions from me that I wouldn’t expect from a game, but it also left me wanting more.  So that brings us to the present, with The Walking Dead: 400 Days.  This is the “1.5”, the episode that bridges the gap, the withdrawal felt between Season One and the upcoming Season Two.  This episode introduces five new characters and takes you through their series of unfortunate events over the course of 400 days.  Vincent, Wyatt, Russell, Bonnie and Shel each have a story to tell, and are all faced with some pretty tough decisions.  The ill-fated heroes and heroines have instances where their paths intertwine and we even find a few Easter Eggs from the Season before.  The characters are just about as compelling as those seen in Season One, if not more, as the amount of gameplay is condensed to just an hour or so, as opposed to the hours found in the first game.


            Most of the mechanics are the same as the gameplay found in the first season, though they may change the use of particular movements in a different way.  It seems to be more open this time around, for example: [Character name] is given a choice to cover his partner or turn a gun on him mid-firefight, a choice seen in the blink of an eye. Or, [Character name] is given the chance to take the keys and leave or grab a gun. The voice acting throughout is, surprisingly, well done.  Considering how many games are coming out at any given time, it is refreshing to hear some voice work that doesn’t seem half-assed.  Sure, some of it may sound cheesy, but the voices, for the most part, are great.
           
           The ending? Of course it leaves you wanting more.  Unanswered questions, new choices rendering future consequence, perhaps choices you may regret… The Walking Dead almost always leaves you spellbound, drooling, upset, anticipating the next episode.  Is it worth it? Yes. Of course it’s just the tip of the iceberg, but it was worth the wait.  Whether you love the series or are a newcomer to the game, pick this up.  You’ll want to see how it all fits together.

            I give this DLC a 5/5.

Stay tuned for more Walking Dead news and info, as we anxiously await Season Two! 

-IC Krys