I got home last night to find a load of people tweeting about some outrageous new trailer for Hitman: Absolution - something about sexualised nuns, violence against women, that sort of thing. I wasn't really that interested - I think we all agreed after last year's E3 that the game looked like pish, after that announcement trailer showed him gunning down cops in the manner least befitting a 'stealth assassin' - but as more and more people piled in I decided I should see what all the fuss was about.
Two things to note at this stage: Firstly, that this is a horrible trailer for what appears to be a horrible game. I loved Hitman: Blood Money, and I could see a clear path along which I'd like the series to develop, but so far Absolution seems to be heading in the opposite direction. That's fine. The developers can do whatever they want with their franchise, just as I am free to not buy their game. Secondly, that even if you (rightly) think that making a game trailer about a dude killing half a dozen young women dressed in pleather fetishwear and high heels is rather tasteless, there comes a point where condemnation can be so intense that it become practically indistinguishable from promoting it.
Anyway, I hopped on the internet and went looking for a proper games website to show me what I'd missed. It really didn't look as bad as people had led me to believe:
I had, of course, watched the wrong video. This one - weirdly titled "Introducing Agent 47" as if we haven't been playing as him for over ten years already - is about four weeks old.
Once I got up to speed with the whole nun situation, I could understand why people were so upset. But that whole issue has been covered in depth already - even The Sun has run a piece about it, in their own skin-crawlingly hypocritical "Look at all these tits and bums, aren't videogames disgusting?" sort of way. To cut straight to the point, the design of these characters is awful because it portrays them as sexual objects. If you want a more thorough explanation, it's been covered at length elsewhere. Speaking personally I had already been put off the game, so this didn't change much for me.
No. I'd like to take one brief step back and draw your attention to the other trailer - the one I watched by accident. I quote:
"His kills can be intimate and painless... or they can be gruesome and violent. 47 excels either way - it's all up to you. Are you a silent assassin? Or do you want to kill everyone in your way?"
This actually caught my interest more than the killer fetish nuns. I think this means they've realised how alienating last year's action-packed trailers were for fans of the series, and now they're trying to backpedal and promote the puzzlebox gameplay of the previous titles. It reminds me of the recent SSX game, where the whole game was redesigned after fans kicked off over the disappointing new direction shown in the first public trailer. Has Hitman undergone a similar retreat, or did last year's E3 trailer just emphasise the dumbest and least interesting aspects of the game?
I'm still not buying it. In a market saturated by a steady stream of great new games, I don't mind restricting myself to products that aren't sexually demeaning.