In a crowded market in Chinatown, one man stands in the centre of a pagoda with guards standing at the entrances. Another distinctive gentleman watches from afar plotting the best route to get close, eliminate his target and then exit as quickly and silently as possible. A few options were immediately obvious, although the plan to run into the centre of the square and start shooting was put to one side relatively quickly. Perhaps it would be best to scout out the area instead.
Of course, best made plans typically go wrong and that’s how my Hitman: Absolution
playthrough turned out. Maybe I shouldn’t have attacked that cop out in the open; maybe I shouldn’t have then drawn a visible weapon in panic. Either way, the end result was the same. The SWAT team started closing in on my position and there was no way out. The shootout was brief as my position was swarmed and no clear route presented itself. Thankfully, there is a plan B for next time. Or more accurately in the case of Hitman: Absolution, there are usually plans titled B to H just in case.
The mission in question had a number of different resolutions depending on the way you wanted to approach the task at hand. Exploration of the area is key to figuring out where the threats are, who will be watching you, what areas are off limits and where some essential items are. Some players resolved the scenario by using a sniper rifle conveniently located nearby, others went for a more explosive distraction tactic, while those who tried shooting on sight usually ended up in a crumpled ball after looking down the barrels of multiple pistols and assault rifles.
Up until now some of the promotional material, such as the Nuns with Guns trailer, worried people at best and caused them to gnash teeth and flail at their keyboard at worst. Agent 47 has a few new tricks up his sleeves. Some of the new tools include the Instinct Mode which highlights enemies and their path, and a Point Shooting mechanic that allows players to rack up headshots, ala Splinter Cell: Conviction, if they have enough points. These mechanics could simplify the game somewhat, but as stated there are a range of difficulties which purists may want to sway towards.However, players are rewarded for stealthy and efficient kills, while they will start being penalised for killing non-targets, disturbing the peace and effectively causing chaos. At the end of the day, this is a Hitman title; if you rely on Point Shooting and flying by the seat of your pants, you’re far less likely to walk out of an area alive.
The chosen mission was set in Chinatown, which is an interesting setting. However, there were times when it didn’t quite feel right. Walking into people queued for food simply nudged them out of the way, but with none of the subtlety which games like Assassin’s Creed offer. At the same time, the locals didn’t seem to mind or take any notice. There were other times when the surrounding crowd were all too well aware of Agent 47’s presence despite not doing anything out of the ordinary. Hopefully this was a deliberate choice as, let’s face it, Agent 47 does stand out more than most Westerners. On the other hand, many locals went about their business and there was plenty of hustle and bustle in the square. It didn’t have quite the same draw as the likes of Sleeping Dogs, but we’ll wait until the full release to see how the various environments and settings stack up.
Hitman has always been about choice so it is great that this is the focal point of Hitman: Absolution. With such a wide variety of solutions and techniques on offer, there should be plenty of opportunities for adoring fans to replay missions in new and diverse ways. Some of the new mechanics should also ensure that new players will transition into the game more smoothly, because this isn’t a title like many others. Hitman: Absolution will creep its way onto shelves on November 20th. It will be released on PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.