Video games often demonstrate a moral ambiguity toward their heroes.
Even the most chirpy and clean-cut heroes like Mario and Nathan Drake
are self-centered killers of whatever life forms surround them. And then
there are the times things aren't so ambiguous. IO Interactive's Hitman: Absolution, like the delightfully immoral Kane & Lynch games that precede it, is not a game about a monster not a hero.
From the first moment he is introduced, Agent 47 is not just a
hyper-capable executor of player fantasy but an accretion of all things
evil. As the camera rises up his body, from patent leather shoe to
perfectly bald head, the soundtrack frames him perfectly with a dark and
booming horns section note repeated again and again. There is no
harmony, nor any nostalgic strings to soften the monotone. There is no
ambiguity to it, a minor tonic played at the loudest possible volume,
repeating itself without even the slightest variation.
Later in the demo, 47 takes a police officer hostage in his escape from a
library and as soon as you hit the button to take the cop as a human
shield this theme returns, insistent, unchanging, and perfectly evil.
The recurring theme underscores the emotional purpose in an action that
would otherwise be easy to accept as a necessity for progress. Moreover,
it's great proof that players don't always need their violent acts
forgiven in advance by circumstance.