previews\ Apr 7, 2012 at 12:00 pm

PAX East 2012: Hitman Absolution preview


When we last saw Hitman: Absolution, IO Interactive made an effort to focus on the game's cinematic approach.  This time around, our preview of the game at PAX East, focused more on Agent 47's toolset, or the different abilities that can cater to the playstyles of each individual gamer.

Hitman: Absolution is the first time Agent 47 will be away from Diana.  As such, he is free to make his own choices, which ultimately comes down to you deciding how you want to play the game.  Do you want the more "professional" approach or the more violent?  Each both viable options, but with totally different paths.

In our preview we were actually shown both options, beginning with the more professional approach.  The demo began in the middle of Agent 47 on a mission at an orphanage to save a kidnapped girl in a building filled with drug addicted thugs and criminals.  Rather than blasting our way through the level, they showed us how a player can successfuly navigate a level without firing a single shot.

By careful timing and precision, players can take advantage of Agent 47's entire toolset.  Taking the professional approach means doing everything possible not to be noticed.  This means sneaking around, disposing of dead bodies, and crouching behind covers.

It's a slower method that requires a lot of patience and careful timing.  Taking advantage of Agent 47's abilities, you can see behind cracked doors and predict where the enemy will move to successfully pick the right path.  When done right, it looks and plays fantastic.  There's just something about moving from wall to wall quickly and quietly without the enemy noticing that makes it appealing.

You'll also need to find some unconventional tools to defeat the enemies you do choose to take out.  Here's a hint, take advantage of the surroundings.  Something like a fire extinguisher can be used to render an enemy unconscious.  But be sure to steal their clothes and dump the body in a careful hiding place, like a ball pit (yes, this really happened).

This approach was viable, but as I said, it will take a lot of patience and, at least for me, a lot of retrying - especially if I'm aiming for the top grade on a level.  Of course, I prefer the more traditional blow em up route.

The second playthrough was much more violent.  Rather than choking an enemy until they pass out, you snap the neck.  Rather than tossing a toy into another room to distract the enemy, you jam an axe into their foreheads.

Hitman: Absolution

Even in this mode, however, you need to utilize your surroundings.  This means shooting gas canisters, ducking behind cover to dodge gunfire, and using Agent 47's point shooting - or freezing time to pick your exact targets you want Agent 47 to shoot at.  When done correctly, it looks amazing and definitely captures the cinematic feel IO Interactive is going for with Hitman: Absolution.

While this violent method was messy, it was effective - and definitely quicker.  But really, it's up to how you choose to play.  Either option was completely  doable, but it just prefers on how you choose to play.  Our time with Hitman: Absolution wasn't hands-on, but it definitely made me more eager for when that time does arrive. 

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