NYCC 2012 | Hitman Absolution Hands-On Impressions

In just a little more than a month, Agent 47 will make his long-awaited debut on seventh generation consoles. In their last chance to convince players to buy the game, Square Enix hosted a public demo of Hitman: Absolution New York Comic Con. And it didn’t disappoint.

The demo opens at the start of the game, with Agent 47 being assigned with assassinate his former colleague, Diana. The Agency feels that Diana is too dangerous to be left alive after her resignation. Agent 47 drives down a long road in an ice cream truck and approaches his target’s mansion gate. The guard waves his hand, signaling that the ice cream truck cannot be let through but it doesn’t turn around. He walks in, looks in the window and says that he doesn’t want ice cream. “What about your partner?” 47 asked just to be aware of whether someone would realize the guard was missing. The guard asks, “What partner?” and finds himself pulled into the ice cream van.

The tutorial starts with typical instructions such as walking, crouching, taking cover and selecting your weapons. There are many ways to get through your missions when it comes to taking out your adversaries. Depending on your difficulty, going in guns blazing won’t have too many repercussions for you as you’ll likely make it through alive. In Diana’s mansion, I had to retrieve an access key from the head of security but getting through the guards he was grilling wouldn’t make that an easy task. On my first try, I attempted to use one of the guards as a human shield and take down the other guards but eventually died before I could pull the trigger. Once I restarted from a checkpoint, I went to the upper level of the mansion and smashed a statue to cause a diversion. I hid in the bathroom until the head of security came to check out the situation. Once he was upstairs, I snuck up behind him and strangled him with my fiber wire.

I glanced over my shoulder and saw the man next to me doing the same part of the tutorial. Instead of making a distraction, he chose not to draw any blood by disguising himself as a chef and putting sleeping pills in the food. The guards ate the food and dropped one by one, making it easy for 47 to take the security key out of the guard’s pocket.

Despite offering other ways to get through the level, once I entered Diana’s mission, a point system was introduced. Stealthily taking out enemies would increase the amount of points you get, but leaving bodies in plain sight and killing non-hostiles and innocents would decrease the amount you get. Getting points unlocks items and weapons you can use in the game.

One of my favorite things about the game is what made the series’ stealth so remarkable: disguises. Killing an NPC in the game would allow you to disguise yourself in their clothes and infiltrate areas that would be off-limits to you if you were to keep 47’s suit on. Your movements and actions would draw suspicion from guards, leading them to attempt to place you under arrest. You can hold one of the face buttons and once the guard approaches you, 47 will automatically counter, triggering a quick time event. Successfully getting through the QTE would disarm the enemy and use them as a human shield but failing it would mean you would take damage and the QTE would start all over again.

Newcomers to Hitman: Absolution will see that some key features from their favorite games have made its way to the upcoming stealth game. During gameplay, players can trigger “Instinct”, which is akin to Eagle Vision from the Assassin’s Creed titles. Instinct allows players to see enemies through walls and see the path they’re walking. Using Instinct also shows your point of interest, items in the environment you can use to cause distractions or take out enemies and collectibles known as “evidence”.

Another element added to the game is Point Shooting, which is similar to Dead Eye from Red Dead Redemption. If you’re carrying 47’s dual pistols, you can use Instinct to trigger Point Shooting which will stop time and let you mark the enemies you want to take out. Point Shooting is delivered in a very cinematic fashion. The camera may follow the bullet as it meets its target or rotate around the area as 47 pulls out his dual pistols.

The visuals in Hitman: Absolution makes the title one of the best looking games of the year. This is thanks to IO Interactive’s  in-house engine, Glacier 2. The story is a lot more personal for 47 than ever before games since he’s now up against the agency he’s worked for in previous games. The gameplay in the demo was flawless and offers many paths to get through the missions.

Hitman: Absolution is set to release on November 20th for PS3, Xbox 360 and PC. And yes, you should buy it.

    • Rus
    • November 5th, 2012

    Mind me asking as to what version did you play during the demonstration? I checked out a build during our gaming expo in South Africa on the Xbox 360 and it looked quite bland in terms of texture detail. Thanks.

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