E3 2011: Hitman: Absolution – bald, beautiful, and tearing Chicago a new one

Following a half-decade in hiding, our favorite hired gun has finally emerged from the shadows again. But like his survival-savvy Square Enix stablemate Lara Croft, Agent 47 now seems to be on the defensive. During our E3 demo, which primarily took place in a Chicago library after business hours, the bar-coded badass - sporting his signature shorn scalp and sharp suit - wasn’t plotting a high-value kill or peering from behind a sniper scope. Nope, Hitman: Absolution’s antihero was on the run and against all odds.

The target of a citywide manhunt, Agent 47 has been pursued into the library by what appears to be Chicago’s entire police force. Skulking in the shadows, skirting persistent flashlight beams, and surveying his relentless predators from afar, he was in no position to call the shots. While this table-turning scenario isn’t one we’re used to seeing 47 restricted by, developer Io Interactive’s not about to have their star assassin trade in his life-siphoning skills for a pair of running shoes. Despite the hunter being the hunted, the calculating killer was still able to do what he does best – systematically snap necks like peanut brittle.

Gracefully shifting between cover points, 47 utilized a variety of makeshift means to pick off the boys in blue one by one. After sabotaging an electrical box to attract attention, he strangled the life from one cop with an electrical cord, crushed another’s skull with a sculpted bust, and simply used his bare hands to steal the final breaths from several other clueless cops. With his corpse-count climbing to a level that wouldn’t remain a secret for very long and the heat closing in, he decided to take a hostage and make his escape. Facing down several officers at gunpoint with hostage in a headlock, he backed out of the building.

But that wasn’t the end. This led to an action movie-like rooftop chase, complete with a driving rainstorm and pursuing helicopter. Before long, 47 evaded the chopper, made his way into an adjacent apartment building, killed another patrolman, donned the cop’s uniform, and stumbled upon an apartment full of stoners. The junkies, who feared 47 was there to bust them - based on his disguise - were relieved when he only borrowed one of their bongs. While this seemed like the perfect segue into a new Hitman-gets-high mini-game, it actually saw the always perceptive professional using the drug paraphernalia to bash in another cop’s head. Our demo concluded with the creative killer once again surrounded by the law. This time, however, he was dressed as one of their own, and walked right through the crowd of boys in blue to escape into the night.

Hitman: Absolution’s demo was damn impressive, but that’s sort of the whole point of an E3 demonstration; developers don’t work tirelessly on a single level for months only to bring something less than underwhelming to the big show. Io Interactive’s reps, however, did much more than just show Agent 47 cinematically dropping goons through a tightly choreographed demo. They also showed off the fresh mechanics that promise to enable fans to slay with similar style.

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  • thelazymackenzie - November 7, 2011 7:38 p.m.

    Woah. One gameplay video and people are fighting over it coming out too soon? Also, I like the new "Splinter Cell: Conviction" look of the game.
  • quincytheodore - June 17, 2011 8:03 a.m.

    Professor X! You're walking! This is a miracle!
  • kyle94 - June 16, 2011 10:24 p.m.

    @Ampatent: To be fair, while you did state that it's too soon, you still said that it's a slap in the face and you don't like it. It's kinda like saying "Now, I'm not racist, but...", or "No offense, but..." @Rhymenocerous: I can't remember which game (I haven't replayed them in a while), but I distinctly remember at least one Hitman game (Possibly the second one) having the ability to break someone's neck. You would have the fibre wire equipped, but instead of slowly strangling them, 47 would do a quick motion with his hands and the body would drop. Anywho, hopefully they won't turn it into an action shooter like they did with Splinter Cell. They'll probably add some features, but won't be that drastic. In addition, from what I can tell so far, it might not even force you to play it like a shooter. It might give you the option, but if you're complaining about having more choices on how to play it, then I don't know what to tell you. As someone already mentioned, Contracts had that one mission at the end with you escaping from the police while trapped in an apartment building. You could shoot your way out of there, though if you were familiar with the level, there was a way to finish the level by shooting only once, to take out the target. I wouldn't be surprised if Absolution ends up being like that at times. The obvious route would be to go around killing all the cops, taking hostages, and shooting your way out. However, the option would still exist to go through it not doing anything like that. It's still too early to say which way it would go, but judging by who's making it and the previous Hitman games, I doubt it's going to turn into a straight shooter. Also, I am rather interested in the concept of 47 being chased. Blood Money was hyping itself up as that in the beginning, though in the end it never really felt like it to me. The closest you came to seeing it was in some of the cutscenes and a couple of missions where there's an assassin somewhere on the map. Honestly, I think the end of Contracts did a better job of showing a desperate 47 on the run then Blood Money did. Not that it wasn't a good game.
  • Ampatent - June 16, 2011 9:03 p.m.

    @jackthemenace How bout you go fuck yourself? What's the point of rehashing a classic series of games if you aren't even going to stick to the same formula that made the games good in the first place? By the way, I specifically stated that "It's too soon to make any conclusive judgements", which means I'm only expressing my opinion. It's assholes like you and DarkRicochet117 that stifle the flow of a conversation by acting high and mighty and insisting everyone with a differing opinion is "whining".
  • DevilDoor - June 16, 2011 8:58 p.m.

    Welcome back 47..
  • jackthemenace - June 16, 2011 8:16 p.m.

    @Ampatent- Exactly the same to you what DarkRicochet said to JMan. Quit whining, and be glad it's coming out at all. Personally, I hope the game brings more fluidity to the Hand-to-Hand stuff, and the Fibre wire, because that always really annoyed me in Blood Money. Also, meaning you're not constantly 2 seconds away from a body bag is a GOOD thing. I HATED having to constantly save in the last games, just in case I got discovered. After that happened, there was almost NO WAY of even surviving the level, let alone getting a good ranking.
  • insertdisk - June 16, 2011 8:16 p.m.

    Certainly I hold the same fears that everyone else seems to be having. The whole point of Hitman was that he was simply too good to ever be chased or discovered.
  • Rhymenocerous - June 16, 2011 8:15 p.m.

    What? When did Hitman snap anybody's neck? I don't like that instinct feature, but that other stuff, turning up the collar, hiding his face etc sounds awesome.
  • chrisat928 - June 16, 2011 7:34 p.m.

    I'm remembering Contracts escape from the cops in the beginning and end levels where there was almost no stealth. It's hard to demo a game like Hitman. It'll be fine.
  • Ampatent - June 16, 2011 7:27 p.m.

    I don't like this. Agent 47 isn't supposed to be a badass action star, he's supposed to be nobody. The man without a name or a face. Turning the Hitman series into an action-shooter is a slap in the face of the dedicated fanbase that enjoyed the pure stealth gameplay that made the previous games so great. It's too soon to make any conclusive judgements, but I certainly hope this style of gameplay isn't the focus of the majority of the game or I'll be very disappointed.
  • JMAN1156 - June 16, 2011 6:31 p.m.

    One of the point of the hitman games was being 2 seconds away from a body bag every second. THAT'S THE POINT! Super stealth, and intelligence, not a generic shooter with a stupid chase scene!
  • AwesomeMan - June 16, 2011 6:12 p.m.

    I am so insanely excited for this game...In it's honor I've started replaying all the Hitman games, starting at the first. I'm also noticing how insanely clunky the old favorites were. I hope 47's finally get a nice smooth refined treatment for this new rendition!