Hitman: Absolution is a stealth/action game about the titular assassin wherein you sneak around trying to kill your way through your former employers after going rogue. The engine is ridiculously smooth, and the game is simply bursting with creative ways to kill your targets, though silently garroting them and dragging the body off to a dark corner to dispose of it is probably the most satisfying. The more linear sections that seemed to force direct confrontation were decidedly less enjoyable. I really wanted 15 more levels like The King of Chinatown and unfortunately, there were only really one or two other spots that came close in the rest of the game.
Far Cry 3 is the most fun I've had playing a video game this year. It is a sandbox where you take the role of an American tourist stranded on an island in the south Pacific that's crawling with pirates, drug dealers, and human traffickers. Your friends are captured by the Big Bad, resulting in your going on a roaring rampage of revenge, rescuing your friends, and killing every pirate you see with a big freaking knife. Kind of like Just Cause 2 meets Assassin's Creed.
Stuff I liked:
The stealth and the recon. There are pirate outposts scattered around the island which you can retake to help liberate the island, and reduce your likelihood of being randomly accosted by pirates. While attacking these outposts, you can carefully sneak up on them from basically any angle, and scope out the position of the pirates with your camera. This gives you a good idea of the lay of the land, how many pirates you're going to need to fight, and where they are.
You can then sneak off, thin out the ranks with your sniper rifle, and sneak up behind guards and stab them in the back. Basically there is actual payoff for carefully studying your enemy and coming up with a plan to eliminate them quietly.
The weapons. While the weapons themselves are not necessarily particularly memorable, you get to pick the load-out that suits your style of play which is something I really appreciate. Lots of games railroad you into carrying the basic assault rifle, and then making you pick through the corpses of your enemies to find the gun that actually suits you. Furthermore most of the weapons are customizable with a number of attachments which gives you the ability to further specialize your load-out to be truly suited to your style of play.
The exposition. While the narrative may be more than a little bit over the top, for the most part the game explains things to you while you have control of your character. This is in stark contrast to Max Payne 3, which bombards you with freaking cut scenes all the time.
Stuff I didn't like:
The story missions. While the story missions aren't particularly bad, they are much more likely to railroad you into blasting your way through tons of dudes, rather than outflanking them, or stealthily taking them by surprise, and I find both of the latter two approaches much more satisfying.
The boss fights. They're a bunch of stupid-god-damned quick time event driven bullshit cut scenes. You know, it might actually be satisfying to sneak up on the big-bad's stronghold, and put a bullet through his head from the next hill over before disappearing into the jungle... but no, you've got to let him talk you to death while you play poker. Fuck that.
Sneaking around the jungle and stabbing heavily armoured dudes with a big knife is the most fun I've had with a video game so far this year. You should check it out.
This is a ranking of the games that I have played in 2013. It's pretty subjective and is mostly about how much fun I had while playing it. Also, these are games that I played in 2013, many if not most of them will have come out before then, because there really are not that many games that get me to drop $60 so that I can play them on release day.
- Far Cry 3
- Hitman: Absolution
- Resistance 3
- Max Payne 3
- Spec Ops: The Line