It’s been a long time since Agent 47 sneaked his way onto current generation consoles. The previous release, 2006′s Hitman: Blood Money was great, but the Xbox 360 version was merely a port of the Xbox 1 version and didn’t take full advantage of the more powerful hardware. Absolution, fortunately, has been built from the ground up on current hardware, and the result is a game as beautiful to look at as it is fun to play.
The way Hitman Absolution has been marketed by Square Enix has been underwhelming at best, and entirely misleading at its worst. Up until very recently, the game appeared to focus entirely on action instead of stealth. Thankfully, that couldn’t be any further from the truth.
The recently released gameplay footage for the game showcased a merry jaunt through dingy Chinatown to take out a guy who proclaims himself the king of that particular slum. In so doing, they demonstrated that the gameplay is very much true to the classic Hitman style, allowing you to approach and dispatch your target in a wide variety of ways. It’s this demo that was on display in the Square Enix booth.
Immediately apparent is how good the game looks. The bright, neon signage serves as a stark contrast to the run down nature of the area, and the game’s lighting engine handles it masterfully. Also impressive is the number of people milling about in the crowd. Agent 47 pushes his way past them in a realistic manner, and the individual people in the crowd will react to being bumped and jostled.
The target was located in a brightly lit gazebo, flanked on all sides by police. If you want to, you can go in guns blazing and take down the king of Chinatown quickly. Of course, you’ll be seen, the crowd will panic, and you’ll likely be shot to death before you can escape. If you get into a real pinch, you can activate an auto shooting mode similar to the one featured in Splinter Cell: Conviction. Basically, time slows down as you mark your targets, who are then taken down automatically in rapid succession.
The best way to take out your target is to wait until he leaves the safety of his armed guards and explores the area. You can follow him around and wait for the perfect opportunity to strike, and many such opportunities will present themselves. I managed to take him out by waiting until he took a phone call right beneath a precariously hanging bunch of heavy crates and other objects. Shooting out the cable sent it all tumbling onto his head while I ducked safely into a nearby dumpster.
I didn’t get the chance to explore some of the other options detailed in the recent gameplay footage, such as sniping the target or luring him away from prying eyes, but knowing those options exist in the first place bodes well for the game’s replayability. I’m definitely looking forward to taking on situations in multiple ways.
I came away from my hands-on time with the game feeling a renewed sense of hope. I never really doubted that Absolution would indeed be as stealthy as previous entries in the series, but it was nice to see it for myself just the same. Look for Hitman Absolution when it launches this November for Xbox 360, PS3 and PC.