E3 2012: Hitman: Absolution Preview – 6 Targets, 1 Assassin, Plenty of Hope
Written Friday, June 22, 2012 By Dan WebbView author's profile
It was literally at the beginning of the month when we said, “like Hitman games of yesteryear have played out though, the environments and levels get more elaborate and rewarding as you go on, which, seeing as this was only the second mission, makes us excited to see how ambitious IO Interactive has become in its long-time away from the franchise.”
It looks like E3 2012 was the answer to our prayers then, as we finally got chance to check out one of these missions in all its glory. A bit of a disclaimer first, it was hands-off, but not that that matters, seeing as we know how it controls after our last hands-on anyway.
Here we are then, mission IX, “Streets of Hope.” With Agent 47 hot on the trail of young Victoria, he finds himself in Hope, South Dakota, in Cougar Gang territory. His job is simple: make five hits and kidnap Lenny “The Limp” Dexter. I say simple, but it’s anything but, actually.
Hope is a weird city in South Dakota, caught in a bizarre time loop of sorts that makes it feel like a 1960s town inhabited by greaser gangs. Using Instinct, Agent 47 is able to pinpoint targets and points of interest. The first hit can be found entering the nearby Green Mountain Convenience Store. Rather trickily though, in order to get to his first kill – without being seen, of course – Agent 47 needs to distract a nearby store clerk to get to the office upstairs.
Switching a nearby radio on, he’s able to slip past the clerk while she’s distracted, head up the stairs and use the garrotte on the first target while he’s on the phone. After dragging the body into a nearby wardrobe, grabbing some C4 from the desk, he heads back downstairs. Unfortunately the clerk is back behind the counter now though. The quick-thinking Agent 47 uses his silenced Silverballer to shoot a car through an open window, setting off the car alarm, which prompts the clerk to head outside and investigate. In and out then without an alarm raised. A perfect hit, indeed.
Out on the street, the next target, Landan, heads into a nearby garage with a police HQ of sorts upstairs. Using Instinct and spying a gas leak on his way in, Agent 47 is able to sneak in through the back entrance and follow Landan through the populated precinct to a balcony overlooking the street from which he’d just come. Using the garotte wire once again, Agent 47 is able to silently takedown the target and then throw his body over the edge near the gas leak. In the commotion though, Agent 47 is spotted and quickly stabs the nearby police officer before he can alert the others, throwing the body over the side in a similar vicinity to Landan’s body. In order to make the hit look like an accident and destroy any evidence, Agent 47 throws the C4 at the gas leak and on his way out, sets off the charge causing one hell of an explosion.
Sure, Agent 47’s score may have dropped significantly due to the amount of innocents being killed in the explosion, but the multiple detonations do trigger some pretty epic slow-mo shots that make it all worthwhile. The distraction also garnered the attention of other police officers around the level too, meaning that the resistance further on is sure to be a tad lighter.
Moving further down the street, Agent 47’s presence is given away by a pesky dog barking behind a chain-link fence as he enters a junkyard of sorts. As a result, Agent 47 has to subdue the guard the barking has attracted, but in hiding the body in the outhouse, feeding the dog a bone and grabbing a mechanic’s outfit in the wake of it all, Agent 47 is much more prepared for the journey further into restricted territory.
It’s literally around the next corner that the mechanic disguise comes in handy, but without using the Instinct mode here, Agent 47 might get sussed out as an imposter. With a quick activation of said mode though, it allows Agent 47 to walk past by undetected.
The next sequence of events flew by in a masochistic and chaotic blur, as Agent 47 manages to take out the three remaining targets in quick succession. Before he moves onto the Cougar nest, Agent 47 has a target that he needs to take care of. Here, Square Enix’s Jon Brooke, who was guiding us through the demo, noted that this target could be taken out by tying the electric box to the chain-link fence and luring him in. Instead, Agent 47 picked up a wrench in a nearby garage and threw it under a suspended car. That act attracts the attention of the target who reaches under the car to pick up the wrench as Agent 47 drops the car on his face. Result.
In order to tackle the next area, Agent 47 needs to find a better disguise, especially as he’s so close to the Cougar nest now, where he’ll find Lenny. Creeping down a side channel, Agent 47 finds a cop, mildly amused by two dogs humping in the corner. It’s an opportune time to take down the smirking rozzer, while he’s alone, and even steal his uniform. Job’s a good ‘un!
As Agent 47 rounds the next corner, the amount of hostiles that occupy the area was pretty terrifying. There was probably a good seven or so Cougar creeps in a small area; so any slip up here and Agent 47 is toast. In a matter of seconds, all seven of the goons were down thanks to one receiving an axe in the face and the other six being taken down in quick succession thanks to a new feature IO is calling ‘point shooting’ – think Dead Eye from Red Dead, where you paint targets in slow motion and watch the carnage play out in a matter of seconds after. It’s a move than uses an incredible amount of Instinct though, so don’t expect to be using this all too often.
Climbing up the building to a window on the first floor, Agent 47 leans around the corner whilst on the ledge to take down one of the last targets who was in the alley below with his Silverballers. After climbing into the Cougar nest, Agent 47 grabs some sleeping pills and changes into a Cougar goon disguise before approaching the final room of the level. Thanks to the disguise, the patrolling guard doesn’t suspect his life is in danger and when his back is turned Agent 47 takes him down silently. Lenny, who’s sat in a nearby chair waiting for a shave, now is an easy target to pacify. Something for the weekend, sir? Result. Mission accomplished.
Now that’s what we call Hitman! Although, if it had been us playing the demo we’d probably have been a little more stealthy in the closing minutes. Still, the choice is there, the various methods of killing your targets are there and the huge sandbox levels are still there too. Oh yes, this is exactly what we were after. More of this please, IO! More. Of. This!
Hitman: Absolution is scheduled for a November 20th and November 23rd release in North America and Europe respectively.