Hitman: Absolution Preview - E3 2011
E3 11: Agent 47 is back with a new setting and new enemies
The last Hitman title, also considered to be the best in the series thus far, came out way back in 2006 and was a very early HD game. With Absolution, IO Interactive aims to continue moving the franchise forward on the current generation of platforms. This means updated gameplay, improved visuals, and better AI. During the E3 presentation given by the game’s designers, we were told that the focus was on improving the original experience, but also keeping it friendly for new players.
Because the game is so early in development, the level shown to media was not of a usual Hitman assignment of target elimination. Instead, it was a story level where Agent 47 had to make his escape from a large police force on his tail. Jumping through a window, the agent laded in the middle of a decaying old library. As he got to cover, police burst through the front doors, and began to search the space for the criminal, as they called him. Agent 47 had to get out of there.
Using the game’s cover system, he snuck past a few guards. When he arrived at a chokepoint, Instinct feature was activated. This allows Hitman to see enemies with X-ray vision, and also their patrol paths. Instinct may make the game too easy, but since it’s optional, should hopefully not be a problem for fans. He saw that a guard was approaching, and waited for him to get in range, at which point he grabbed the guard and silently chocked him with a user QTE prompt to mash a button. These kinds of minigames will be new to the franchise, but in this case it seemed at least to be appropriate to the action being taken.
As Agent 47 moved forward, an enemy alertness meter was available, similar to that which shows in third person stealth games. If enemies had a clear view, the meter would fill quickly and Hitman would get spotted. We saw a guard fix a fuse box, which allowed half of the library to regain electricity, which guards took up. To advance, the agent decided to sabotage the fuse box – when the lights went out, the guards had to return and investigate. Waiting for him, Agent 47 jumped from the shadows and strangled the officer with a power cord he had found earlier. Picking up the cop’s gun, the agent moved on across the library space.
In order to avoid evasion, Hitman climbed the ledge that ran alongside the library walls, and shuffled his way from one side to the other, in what looked as platforming element of the game. The ledge then allowed him to grab onto a catwalk and cross over to a ledge. A guard was standing above it, so Hitman grabbed him from below and sent him flying downstairs. A nearby guard arrived to investigate the noise, but was met with a blow to the head by a cement statuette. In the next library row, another guard had to be dispatched by a violent takedown neck snap with a police baton.
Hitman arrived at the front doors, but he was unable to sneak past a large group of cops. So he sneaked up and grabbed one of them to use as a hostage. Backing away slowly now that the whole group was alerted, the agent made it to the doors as the cops decided their partner’s life wasn’t worth as much as Hitman’s. They opened fire, and Agent 47 had to make a run for it to the roof. There, the police chopper waiting, immediately opening fire.
Hitman made a break for cover, constantly moving behind various objects in order to avoid the machine gun fire. He made it into a small rooftop storage area, where the helicopter was unable to see, so they sent a cop to lure Hitman out. Instead, our agent dispatched the guard and took his disguise, which allowed him to walk past the helicopter and down to the ground level of the building. There, a lobby full of cops, Hitman avoided attention by constantly covering his face and adjusting the police cap. He is also able to interact with objects in order to hide in plain sight, such as picking up and looking curiously at police ammunition for the raid, or drinking coffee.
The level concludes with Hitman simply walking out of the building with a cop uniform, having evaded his pursuers. It was an interesting change of pace for the series, and this demo was mostly used to show off some of the technical and gameplay improvements, without actually spoiling any contract hits in the game. Developers confirmed that disguise and impersonation will remain key elements of the game. The demo that was shown looked good, with modern graphics and sound effects, though it’s still early in development. Fans can look forward to Agent 47’s return on PC, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3 in 2012.