E3 2012: Hitman Absolution Hands-On

So coming into this, I have to admit to never having played a Hitman game before. So this write-up is likely going to be of more use for those of you who are looking into this game as your entry point into the series. Apparently there are plenty of us out there, as the video below evidences, there was a lot of confusion and difficulty playing the game. The person demoing the game admitted as much.

Still, it’s a stealth game, which have generally not been the most accessible of genre’s. However, once I got a bit of hands on time with someone to explain how things worked and what I was supposed to be doing, things began to fall nicely into place. So while we got off on the wrong foot, by the end, I can say I did enjoy my time with Hitman.

The playable portions of Hitman consisted of one assassination mission, and the Sniper Challenge. The latter is a pretty straight forward mini-game akin to silent scope. You’re put on a rooftop and tasked with sniping as many enemy guards before you get noticed. The mission on the other hand, has much more to offer in the way of depth.

No backstory is given for the demo. You are simply dropped into an area and tasked with killing a certain target. How you go about that is up to you. The area is heavily trafficked by people and the target is in the center of the area inside a gazebo, surrounded by guards. He is waiting for a dealer of some sort, drugs or weapons perhaps. To complicate matters, the place is crawling with cops. You ID him and the guards/cops using a sort of special vision that highlights key characters in the area. So now it’s time to figure out how to take him out.

You have quite a few options. Among them, is brute force, which is not the best plan out in the open and surrounded by large amounts of armed men. Another, I was told, is finding a way to poison him. Yet another, is to find and take out the dealer he is going to meet, then impersonate him. However, the route I used, was to actually find the dealers hideout, and in there, was a sniper rifle. From there things got interesting.

So a bit of patience for the target to get into range, and then a well placed shot and he’s out. Problem is, in doing do, I alerted the cops to my location. Not to worry though, there’s a long hallway outside of this apartment, as the first wave of cops rush in, I use my vision to see them coming up the stairs. Hiding behind door frame I wait for them to start rushing down the hallway, and then I lean out, and snipe them all. Like fish in a barrel.

However, this just brings more and more on me. So I pick off as many as I can with the sniper rifle before running out of bullets. I switch to my twin pistols and work my way into the stairwell. As they run into the stairwell I’m ready and pick them off with some great ease. Problem is, I’m out of bullets and now the SWAT team is coming up. I hide around a corner and wait for the first one to approach, I grapple with him as he approaches, triggering a quick time event. I kill him, and take his weapon and clothing. I begin walking out, and it looks like my ruse is about to work. I get close to them, but then they notice I’m not him. Oh well, I open up with his weapons and spray the area clean.

Some more are below, they were smarter and ran back to cover. Still, there’s a lot fewer now, and I have a stockpile of weapons from their dead friends. I make short work of them pretty soon. From there I simply walk out of the building and out to the mission extraction point as everyone in the square cowers.

So, what can I say? I felt like quite the badass at the end of my playthrough. The game certainly peaked my interest and the openness in the approaches to the level are definitely a treat. Beyond that, the actual gameplay was enjoyable. The character and weapons controlled well and combat flowed smoothly and intensely. The game could do with a bit more in the way of accessibility, but I imagine that will be handled by some form of tutorial mission in the final release. However, if you’ve been on the fence about the Hitman series, this really seems like it might be a good time to jump on board.


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