Hitman Absolution Preview

Hitman Absolution

Agent 47 has a brand new bag. In IO Interactive’s Hitman Absolution, the professional contract killer finds himself starring in the unfamiliar role of the hunted, the victim of conspiracy, and a man seeking revenge on those who’ve betrayed him.

This is the extent of the narrative that was revealed to press at this year’s E3 — not a whole lot — but a glimpse at the new game, built completely from the ground up, proved far more interesting. This installment in the Hitman franchise takes a new approach to play, creating a more cinematic game environment than in past games. This seems to come at the cost of the fully open design the franchise is known for, but the game’s developers still highlight the inclusion of "choice" as a key element of Absolution.

In the E3 demo, 47 is caught in a situation where he must work to escape a library flooded by police officers on the lookout for the assassin. The path 47 takes through the stage is fairly linear from his original position, hiding in the shadowy depths of the building, to his escape point outside. The choices he makes from point to point, however, have the potential to change the way the game unfolds for players. Unfortunately, we were only able to see one playthrough of the area, so the full gamut of choices was not made abundantly clear, but was rather inferred from the options that were visible in the environment.

Hitman Absolution

What was made more obvious was the way characters in 47’s world behave, and how players must interact with them in order to be successful. IO has spent much energy on Absolution‘s artificial intelligence, shifting from an all-or-none alert system to an analog awareness spectrum in an attempt to eliminate as much trial-and-error play as possible. In the demo, the way NPCs interacted with one another and responded to changes in the environment, such as when 47 used a fuse box to kill all the lights in the building, felt natural and realistic, indicating that IO’s intentions are coming to fruition in the final product.

Another feature underlined in the E3 demo was Instinct, which lets players see situations through 47’s eyes. The example in this case was to show the player how 47 expected guards to patrol, giving him the opportunity to move undetected based on their movements. Instinct can also be used to highlight escape routes, weapons, and shortcuts, or to impersonate a character whom 47 is disguised as.

In many ways, Hitman Absolution presents a full, traditional stealth experience, with cover-to-cover play, swift assassinations, and a touch (or more) of gunplay. Its strong AI and highly cinematic elements — scripted events, a well-incorporated soundtrack, and an engaging, cohesive narrative — give it a new, refined edge, though. Fans of the series and newcomers alike will certainly find much to like about the new Agent 47.


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Author: Eddie Inzauto View all posts by
Eddie has been writing about games on the interwebz for over ten years. You can find him Editor-in-Chiefing around these parts, or talking nonsense on Twitter @eddieinzauto.

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