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

 Most notably, they focused a great deal on the series’ new Instinct mode, a sixth sense of sorts that removes much of the frustration that’s plagued previous entries. Earned by scoring stealth skills, Instinct, which displays enemies through solid objects and highlights their suspected paths with heat signatures, can be triggered with a quick button press. Yes, it’s essentially Batman’s Detective Vision from Arkham Asylum – but it’s still a great addition. Seeing where his targets are and where they’re headed enables 47 to stay one step ahead of them, while also keeping players off the trial-and-error treadmill.

This ability appears to be woven seamlessly into the gameplay, yielding a far more organic experience than, say, dying over and over again until you’ve memorized A.I. paths and patterns. A similar skill also helps a disguised 47 avoid detection while surfing through crowds of adversaries.  A suspicious look or line of questioning can be countered by an evasive head tuck or maybe pulling up your collar to discreetly hide your mug.

The existence of these helpful tools is justified by the protagonist’s honed senses and years of experience. Based on what we saw, the Instinct feature seems more like an immersion-pushing mechanic rather than a cheap hint system. Still, if this all sounds like BS to hardcore gamers, they do have the option to play without any handholding whatsoever.

Players will probably want to use every trick tucked into 47’s tailored suit, though, as Io’s also promising a huge advancement in their A.I. tech. NPC’s will not only react realistically to suspect sights and sounds, altering their actions on the fly, they’ll also display believable emotions. We got a taste of this when the gun-for-hire took one of the policemen’s own as a disposable meat-shield; panicked pleas and distraught looks washed over the previously cautious, but calm police presence in the library’s lobby. If seething vengeance is displayed just as realistically on the faces of those wronged by 47, we may think twice before killing so indiscriminately. 47’s ultimate escape from this same scene also hinted at a fix for another of the franchise’s major flaws. If detected in previous Hitman entries, you were usually seconds from occupying a body bag; based on this desperate escape, though, it seems we won’t have to always stay hidden to avoid that fate.

On top of promising gameplay as polished as its protagonist’s pate, Hitman: Absolution sports some of the sharpest visuals we spied at this year’s show. Stunning interior environments, detail-drenched character renders, and a teasing taste of a living, breathing Chicago prove Io’s proprietary Glacier 2 engine is capable of keeping up with its horsepower-pushing contemporaries. Hitman: Absolution doesn’t hit until 2012, but based on this early look at 47’s latest neck-snapping spree, we’re already shopping for a new blood-red tie.

Jun 16, 2011

12 comments

  • 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!

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