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Hitman: Absolution – hands-on video and impressions

Friday, 1 June 2012 14:00 GMT By Stace Harman

Hitman Absolution brings new meaning to the phrase “killing time”. Head in for the first ever hands-on demo footage from Sam Clay and detailed impressions from Stace Harman.

Hitman: Absolution

Hitman: Absolution is the fifth full release in a franchise that spans 12 years; it’s the latest since Hitman: Blood Money in 2006.

IO producer Luke Valentine asserts that the new Glacier 2 game engine has improved both the look of the game world and also the play experience, stating “…the sophistication of the new AI is something that our previous tech wasn’t capable of”.

The first experience to show-off the Glacier 2 engine is Hitman: Sniper Challenge, which can be downloaded for free via code redemption. Codes are issued with pre-orders of Hitman: Absolution made between now and its November 20 worldwide launch

IO Interactive has stated all along that with Hitman: Absolution it intends to cater both to the specific tastes of its long-serving fans and to tickle the fancy of a broader market. However, this hasn’t always been clear from the trailers and gameplay footage it has chosen to release as part of its pre-launch marketing campaign, which have often depicted Agent 47 in slow-motion, mass shoot-outs or exhibiting the uncanny ability to see through walls and sense the intended paths of enemies.
No, the original silent assassin has been sounding decidedly cacophonous of late and whilst newcomers might have revelled in this route-one approach, series fans have been left to wonder aloud at where it all went wrong for the sharply-dressed gentleman assassin.

But a recent hands-on did much to allay concerns that Hitman’s professional subtlety hasn’t exchanged for a Saints Row level of lunacy. Not because of a single stealth-based level; nor because an IO team member whispered sweet nothings into my microphone, but because of more over-arching structural details that say much about the myriad approaches to assignments and of the focus on 47’s stealthy ethos.

Let’s start with the fundamental concepts of Hitman: Absolution that have been so far introduced and that established Hitman fans have been alarmed by. First up is difficulty level, on starting the latest preview code I’m presented with two: Easy and Normal. The latter is the only one available for this preview level and is accompanied by a bulleted description, “Many instinct hints, forgiving enemies, progressive save points and simple patrol patterns.”

Seasoned Hitman fans will be rolling their eyes at this definition of Normal, but that’s why, just next to the Normal and Easy levels, there’s a Hard difficulty option; and another for Expert; and yet another titled Purist. That’s five difficulty levels in total and although their descriptions aren’t included in this build, you can judge from the factors mentioned by the description for Normal difficulty the kinds of things that will be affected.

“Let’s say that it’s more than simply making the AI harder to kill,” IO Interactive producer Luke Valentine hedges when I question him on it later. “It’s also about whether there are on-screen hints, how many enemies will show-up if back-up is called and how the save points work, for example.”

Pick ‘n’ mix

IOI may be content to let its fans sweat on the finer details, but there’s more to be found by looking at what’s in front of us. Delving into the in-game menu reveals some interesting tidbits – not least that Hitman: Absolution comes complete with a left-handed control scheme – there’s also the option to customise individual elements of Absolutions divisive Instinct mode, specifically those that highlight enemies, show their intended patrol paths and allow for slow-motion Point Shooting.

So, it’s possible to play on Normal difficulty but with some or all of these options switched off, thus customising your Hitman experience. This should come as a huge relief to those that have fretted over IOI’s apparent desire to stuff 47’s toolbox with overpowered parlour tricks and, honestly, I’m not sure I’ve ever been more relieved or excited by the potential revealed by a couple of menu screens.

However, we can’t spend all day dallying with myriad on/off switches and so it’s time to take a wander around the level. China Town is a bustling melting pot of people who exhibit a mix of behaviours, ranging from those that stride around with a purpose to those that ape the behaviour of Saturday morning shoppers that pull up short right front of you.

Saying too much about the approaches 47 can take to terminate his mark on this level would be to spoil that joyous feeling of surprise as you start to discover just how many items of seemingly innocuous environmental furniture can be pressed into action as a means to kill a man. Suffice to say, I try multiple play-throughs that range from an entirely silent and unnoticed kill that has me fighting the urge not to run away whooping at my own ingenuity, to the most direct route which involves shooting the target point blank in the face and dying in the ensuing firefight as local police give way to an armed SWAT team.

Certainly, the successful attempts that involve clean, quiet kills award higher scores – which are tracked on separate friends, national and world leaderboards – than those that end in a shootout, regardless of how handy you are with firearms.

“I think if you’re going for score and it matters to you, then regardless of how many headshots you score, you’ll come out worse for the wanton damage; it’s just not as professional and it’s easier to do,” posits Valentine.

À la carte

Perusing yet another menu – Help! I’m obsessed – reveals a number of level-specific challenges that give big clues as to the varied approaches that can be taken to eliminate the target; Valentine is unsure whether these challenges will be described in the same detail in the final game as they are here, which give a very clear guide to what must be done to complete each one, but the number of them suggests great potential for repeat play, “For completionists, there’s a lot there and if you do want to do everything you’ll be playing the game for a long time,” Valentine confirms.

The final concern that’s addressed by this preview build is that of AI. In previous Hitman games the AI belonged to a hive mind, which Valentine concedes was far from ideal, “Now, if a situation gets messy it can be contained,” he says. “So, if you’re intending to play stealthy but mess up and get spotted, it might affect your score and rating but it’s not going to spoil the level, as such. If the same thing happened in previous Hitman games you might want to restart, because there was pretty much no way out.”

This is illustrated when a botched attempt to sabotage a fuse box is noticed by a guard who comes to investigate. As he approaches 47 he draws his gun and a button prompt suggests the option to mock surrender, when implemented it draws the guard within arm’s reach where he can be pacified before he alerts his comrades outside.
Hitman: Absolution has been making a lot of noise in recent months but it appears that the silent assassin has been right there all along, waiting for the right time to reveal himself. Most encouraging is that the biggest rewards are reserved not for those that are quickest on the draw but for those that stalk their prey and strike unnoticed, and that’s exactly as it should be.

Hitman: Absolution launches worldwide on November 20 for PC, 360 and PS3.

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22 Comments

  1. roadkill

    OMG console footage! I almost threw up. Please please give us a heads-up before you post stuff like that.

    #1 3 years ago
  2. KAP

    @1

    Haha, you almost made me lol. Great footage vg247, this is what I like to see.

    #2 3 years ago
  3. Maximum Payne

    Can we now agree its going to be at least solid Hitman game ?

    #3 3 years ago
  4. Ali Hayas

    Would wait and see… Kane and Lynch 2 was …. disastrous

    #4 3 years ago
  5. roadkill

    @2 Don’t get me wrong I don’t care what platform people play on. It’s their choice. But what I said was no joke. I was looking at the trailer and I was thinking “Awesome detail!” and then “Look around! Look around idiot!” and then I saw the retarded controls and I realized.. the horror.

    #5 3 years ago
  6. The_Red

    Nice, this is a rather nice exclusive. Way to go VG :)
    Hopefully this shuts up those annoying whiners that couldn’t handle some awesome sexy assassin nuns in the trailer. Looking forward to this game as well as the HD collection.

    #6 3 years ago
  7. Pytox

    you want to snoop around the agency? you crazy? yea you crazy :p

    #7 3 years ago
  8. Moonwalker1982

    I’m gonna be careful on getting too excited on this, hardcore Hitman fan right here and i’d hate to see this one getting ruined. But it’s looking really fucking good though.

    FINALLY they show the multiple ways to do things, to kill your target. To make a murder look like an accident, the stuff that made Blood Money so brilliant. This makes me very happy.

    It seems the HD collection has only been shown for PS3 so far, right?

    #8 3 years ago
  9. AHA-Lambda

    I feel so much better after reading this :D

    #9 3 years ago
  10. chocy82

    I hope your paying Sam well because else a publisher might come knocking for his services.

    That was the best ‘interview’ style video i’ve seen in a long long time. The publisher video people can learn from Sam.

    #10 3 years ago
  11. Sam Clay

    @10 your cheque is in the post kind sir :)

    #11 3 years ago
  12. Moonwalker1982

    I read the whole hands on, this is making me so damn happy!!!! I have to be honest too, i kept having faith that this would turn out great, but the fear was big that they would mess it up. Each time they showed new trailers full of action and what not. And sure, they are right when they say if they release a trailer full of stealth that it wouldn’t be interesting, but that fear kept lingering. This hands on is very good news.

    #12 3 years ago
  13. KAP

    One gripe I have is the way they fall dead, I know its been that way from the very beginning but after playing Max Payne 3 I really like the realistic way to the bad guys fall in a shoot out.

    With that said though this is probably my top 5 most anticipated game within the next 12 months for sure.

    #13 3 years ago
  14. Moonwalker1982

    @13

    Yeah i agree man, when 47 shoots the guy….the death animation looked kinda off. And indeed..oh boy, compared to Max Payne 3…ouch. I was hoping they had fixed this or really improved it, but not really. It does look better than how it was in Kane & Lynch though.

    #14 3 years ago
  15. chocy82

    considering in its traditional sense you really shouldn’t be shooting people (to get silent assasin etc), does it matter ? :)

    max payne is a shooter, hitman is not. well, not really.

    #15 3 years ago
  16. Sam Clay

    @14 + @13 – Remember this is ‘Work in progress’ footage guys. These types of things get fixed.

    #16 3 years ago
  17. Moonwalker1982

    Sam Clay, are you from IO?

    #17 3 years ago
  18. TD_Monstrous69

    I thought the gameplay overall looked really solid (if not a bit archaic for some of the classic Hitman gameplay things, like selecting items, and taking clothes rom people). Though my question, why does the asian guy at the end of the hands-on sound like Rocky Balboa?

    #18 3 years ago
  19. KAP

    @15

    Regardless it should still have updated by now, I only state Max Payne 3 because they got it right, if I shoot someone in the leg they drop and hold his leg, in cvg hitman footage he shoots him in the leg, he drops like a bag of potatoes and dies….. Wtf?!

    @16

    I doubt there gonna add the feature so late in its cycle, but I’d be nice if it did. I hated the way gunfights felt in previous hitman they felt… Just wrong!

    #19 3 years ago
  20. Maximum Payne

    @19 Because Hitman is primarily stealth game.Just like I don’t know max payne 3 don’t have nice stealth animation :D

    #20 3 years ago
  21. Da Man

    I look forward to this allegedly stellar videogame after the amazing trailer they’ve managed to create.

    Hitman has always been a top notch spiritual experience with exceptional aesthetics and now I’m more than sure these men won’t disappoint.

    Let the kids play their toys, I’ll be experiencing this artistic entertainment with a cup of coffee and a cigar.

    #21 3 years ago
  22. Moonwalker1982

    @ 21

    But you are forgetting one thing, most of the guys behind Hitman aren’t at IO anymore. But it looks to be really promising indeed.

    #22 3 years ago

Comments are now closed on this article.

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    House of Wolves will change the inventory of some of Destiny’s vendors and add new roles to others. Here’s everything that has been announced so far. You know that House of Wolves will bring a new social space to the game in the form of The Reef. But did you also know that the good […]

  • Nintendo apologises for Amiibo shortages, will reissue some out-of-stock figures

    Nintendo released a statement today to apologise for fan’s frustrations in finding some Amiibo figures and promised to handle distribution better going forward. Nintendo has been criticised recently for its lack of communication when it comes to new Amiibo figures. Something which has lead fans to not know if certain figures are limited to some […]

  • Halo: MCC “a black eye for us,” Halo 5 won’t suffer the same fate, says franchise director

    The development of Halo: The Master Chief Collection was of an “outrageous complexity,” which was one of the reasons it suffered a horrible launch. None of that will happen with Halo 5: Guardians, according to Frank O’Connor. Frank O’Connor, Halo franchise development director opened up to Xbox Achievements about the difficult task of developing The […]

  • Destiny House of Wolves: weapon Reforging explained

    When House of Wolves drops in a couple of weeks, you’ll be able to change the stats of some in-game weapons. This process is called ‘Reforging’. Alex goes over all the details Bungie revealed about the new Reforging system. This covers the materials you need, the weapons that can be reforged and much more. Make […]

  • GTA 5 PC: control the in-game phone with your iPhone using this mod

    GTA 5′s latest mod lets you control the in-game phone with your real-life iPhone. Reddit user Planetleak wanted to see if he would succeed in getting his iPhone to control the phone in GTA 5. He did it and has a video to prove it. It’s not a mod per-se, but it emulates mouse and […]

  • SoulCalibur dev wants to know fans’ favourite characters for “something huge”

    SoulCalibur developers are probably working on a new game, because they’re asking fans to vote on their favourite characters. Project Soul, the longtime developer of the SoulCalibur series is soliciting feedback on fans’ favourite characters. The developer said as much in a post on its Facebook page. “Calling all SoulCalibur Fans! Project Soul would like […]

  • Jason Voorhees doesn’t look out of place in new Mortal Kombat X trailer

    Jason Voorhees comes to Mortal Kombat X starting tomorrow and it’s time to celebrate his arrival. Jason Voorhees, the first DLC character for Mortal Kombat X has been given the trailer treatment. Jason is part of the game’s Kombat Pack, owners of which can start using him tomorrow, May 5. Being an iconic horror character, […]

  • Dragon Age: Inquisition – Dragonslayer DLC announced, free to all this week

    Dragon Age: Inquisition is getting a multiplayer expansion this week. BioWare has announced that all owners of Dragon Age: Inquisition will receive a new multiplayer expansion, for free. The expansion is called Dragonslayer and it’s centred around fighting dragons, hence the name. Three new playable characters will join the roster as you explore an all-new […]

  • Sonder is still happening, and this is the best news of the week

    Sonder is a really interesting-looking new indie adventure, which I am quite excited to remember exists. We first heard about Sonder in late 2013, when its debut trailer introduced us to a Kamai Media’s ambitious vision. In the intervening months Kamai has been hard at work on its space station management sim slash non-linear narrative […]

  • Twitter axes playable Internet Archive embeds

    The dream has died: Twitter has disabled Internet Archive game embeds. Remember how for a few days you could tweet a link to an a game on the Internet Archive and it was playable direct from that tweet? Well, Twitter has cancelled that. All those tweets now just show links. GamesIndustry suspects it has something […]

  • Lords of the Fallen, Divinity: Original Sin developers will reveal new games at E3 2015

    Lords of the Fallen developer Deck13 and Divinity: Original Sin developer Larian Studios have new projects in the works which will be revealed at E3 2015. Publisher Focus Home Interactive is behind both new games. In a French press release [PDF] spotted by RPG Codex, Focus said it will show off the two unrevealed titles […]

  • Rare game announce expected at E3 2015

    Rare’s new game will be shown off at E3 2015, apparently. Rare hasn’t announced a reveal, and neither has Microsoft, but it looks like the news has slipped out anyway. IGN cites a tweet from Rare creative director Simon Woodroffe in which he says that a new project from Rare designer Gregg Mayles will be […]

  • Batgirl expansion included in $40 Batman: Arkham Knight season pass

    Here’s what you get in the $40 Batman: Arkham Knight season pass. Batman: Arkham Knight’s season pass was announced last week, but apart from the news that it would cost a whopping $40/£33, we didn’t get many details of what it would include. Thankfully, Warner Bros. has since acknowledged the clamour this caused, as players […]

  • Star Wars Day Xbox sale discounts Force Unleashed, Lego games

    Star Wars Day is upon us, and here’s an Xbox sale to mark it. Microsoft is offering discounts on Xbox 360 games to celebrate May 4. From my desk here in Australia the sale is a bit light on content – two Lego games, plus The Force Unleashed and its DLC packs. Your mileage may […]

  • Here’s hoping this tease means we see Mass Effect at E3 2015

    Mass Effect boss Mike Gamble has shared a teaser image, which we’re more than happy to draw speculative conclusions from. The new Mass Effect game in the works at BioWare Edmonton is a mysterious beast. Judging by how long it’s been in development, it feels like we’re about due for a proper reveal, to clear […]

  • Watch almost a whole hour of Wolfenstein: The Old Blood

    Wolfenstein: The Old Blood is almost here. Are you ready for old-school shooter action? Wolfenstein: The Old Blood publisher Bethesda livestreamed almost an hour of the Machine Games shooter recently, and has now uploaded the archive to YouTube. Check it out below: Wolfenstein: The Old Blood launches digitally on PC, PS4 and Xbox One on […]

  • Splatoon lacks voice chat to promote a positive online experience

    Nintendo’s multiplayer game Splatoon will not contain a voice chat option in order to “focus on the positive aspects” of online gaming. Speaking in the latest issue of Edge magazine (thanks, GamesRadar), Splatoon co-director Yusuke Amano said personal experience with negativity in online voice chat was one of the main reasons for excluding the feature. […]

  • D4 on PC: differences from Xbox One version, system specs announced

    D4: Dark Dreams Don’t Die – Season 1 is coming to PC, and Access Games has provided a list of features different from the Xbox One version. We’ve pulled most of the changes off the game’s website and posted them below, along with the PC specs. D4 on PC Kinect gesture input controls replaced with […]

  • The Megalodon returns to Battlefield 4 with the latest CTE patch

    The Megalodon Easter Egg in Battlefield 4 may have been removed earlier this year from Naval Strike, but it has since resurfaced on the CTE with the latest patch. I’d make a Jaws reference, but it’s been done to death. The shark is shown in the video on the Paracel Storm map which was where […]

  • Survival horror game Kodoku has a new work-in-progress trailer

    Kodoku, the survival horror title from Carnivore Studio, has a new work-in-progress video available, showing you how the game is coming along. Announced for PlayStation 4 and Vita back in 2013, the game is slated for release sometime this year, and tasks the player with avoiding mythical Japanese ghosts using only magic and stealth. Thanks, […]

  • Current HoloLens prototype has noticeably “tighter” FoV compared to January build

    Microsoft’s augmented reality headset HoloLens is still very much in the prototype stage, according to various reports out of the Build Conference. Microsoft hasn’t discussed technical specs with the press yet as nothing is set in stone, but during a hands-on at Build, Ars Technica noticed the prototypes had a “x86 processor, 2GB RAM, 802.11ac […]

  • Silent Hills petition asking Konami to continue development has over 50,000 signatures

    A petition to save the Silent Hills game has been formed by fans in the hopes Konami will change its mind and bring the collaboration with Guillermo del Toro back from the dead. Konami confirmed on Monday the Silent Hill remake from film director Del Toro and Metal Gear’s Hideo Kojima had been cancelled, but […]

  • Attack on Titan has a US release date, title changed in EU over copyright claim

    Attack on Titan: Humanity in Chains will be released under a different title in Europe, according to the publisher, and while a release date has been set for North America, the same cannot be said for fans across the pond. According to Atlus, a copyright claim in Europe has forced the company to publish the […]

  • Yooka-Laylee meets final Kickstarter Stretch Goal in less than 24 hours

    The Kickstarter for Playtonic’s Yooka-Laylee sailed beyond its final £1 million ($1.5 million) Stretch Goal overnight, which will allow for a simultaneous release on all announced platforms. Once funded, Yooka-Laylee was slated for release on Linux, Mac, PC, PlayStation 4, Wii U, and Xbox One; however, a simultaneous release on all platforms wasn’t guaranteed unless […]

  • Not a Hero will miss its May 7 release date, but not by much

    Not a Hero will miss its May 7 release date, according to an announcement from Roll7. Not to worry though, it’s only by a week. According to the developer, the delay is due to “having undergone super-secret upgrades to crank shit up to 60fps.” The extra week will provide the additional time needed for tweaking […]

  • Assassin’s Creed, The Crew, Far Cry 4, other Ubisoft titles on sale through the Humble Store

    Ubisoft has put a number of its games on sale through the Humble Store. Franchises Assassin’s Creed and Far Cry are on discount as are single release titles. The list of games on sale are below. For pricing in your region, head over to the Humble Store. Anno 2070 Complete Edition Assassin’s Creed 3 Assassin’s […]

  • Payday 2: Repeater rifle, Peacemaker pistol introduced with The Butcher’s Western Pack

    Overkill Software released the 21st DLC pack for Payday 2 yesterday, titled The Butcher’s Western Pack. The pack will run you $4.99/€4.99 and other digital distribution channels. “For our 21st DLC we go back in time to visit the Wild West and the arsenal it was known for,” said the developers. “With it we’re introducing […]

  • The Yooka-Laylee Kickstarter just launched and has already met its funding goal

    Playtonic Games launched the Kickstarter campaign for Yooka-Laylee at 5pm UK, and in just over 30 minutes it already hit its $270,000 funding goal. You can watch the funding counter continue to roll over through the link. Yooka-Laylee is a 3D platformer where the characters use special moves such as Yooka’s tongue grapple and Laylee’s […]

  • Batch of hi-res Persona 5 screenshots released by PlayStation Japan

    A set of screenshots have been released for Persona 5, and while you’ve seen these before in magazines and on the official website, these are high-res versions. Some will even look familiar to those who watched the first gameplay trailer back in February. The shots were posted over on the PlayStation Japan Persona 5 game […]

  • Is Alien: Isolation getting HTC Vive support?

    Placeholder images for SteamVR icons have been found and it looks like there may be support for Alien: Isolation, so if you enjoy soiling yourself, get psyched! NeoGAF members found a thread on Reddit, where a little rooting around in a Steam directory unearthed the images. The list includes both games and apps, and as […]

  • Xbox Live multiplayer is free this weekend on Xbox 360

    Xbox 360 players in all Xbox Live regions can play multiplayer online for free this weekend. If you are a Silver member, this means you are Golden from May 1-3 and can play multiple games online with your buddies. All you have to do is log-in to Xbox Live.

  • Assassin’s Creed actor Michael Fassbender confirms film production starts September

    The Assassin’s Creed movie will start production this fall, actor Michael Fassbender (Prometheus, 300, X-Men:First Class) as confirmed. Speaking with ComingSoon.net, Fassbender said filming will start in September, which is inline with Ubisoft’s announcement in February. The actor will star in the film alongside Oscar-winning actress Marion Cotillard, both reuniting with their MacBeth director Justin […]

  • Eve Online boss states VR won’t be as big as we think next year

    I don’t think I’m the only one who wants VR to hurry up and manifest into a Sword Art Online-esque reality. Unfortunately, the chief executive officer at the studio behind Eve Online doesn’t think that will be happening any time soon. Talking to Venture Beat, Hilmar Veigar Pétursson touched on his excitement at the prospects […]

  • The Last of Us: Left Behind goes standalone in May on PS3, PS4

    Naughty Dog has announced that The Last of US DLC Left Behind will be released as a standalone experience next month. It can be purchased for both PlayStation 3 and PS4 through the PS Store and a two-hour demo of the Factions multiplayer will also be made available. “The Left Behind standalone game will have […]

  • EA’s annual E3 press conference takes place on June 15

    Electronic Arts has announced its annual E3 2015 press conference will take place the day before the show kicks off on June 15. EA, Microsoft, Sony and Ubisoft always hold press events the day before E3 officially starts, so this isn’t any surprise, really. The presser, dubbed “Live to Play”, will last one hour and […]

  • Steam exchange rate mix-up closes down community market

    The Steam community market was buggered up big time today after a mix-up with currency conversion had items selling from practically nothing, to millions of dollars. PC Gamer picked up on the news after a thread on Reddit appeared with screenshots depicting just how silly things were getting over there. The currency exchange rate data […]

  • Britney Spears signs five-year deal with Glu for new mobile game

    Pop star Britney Spears has signed a five-year deal with Glu mobile for a new, untitled game. The mobile game will feature her “voice, likeness, and creative influence,” and is due for release sometime next year. Glu also signed a deal with Katy Perry in February, so expect a game revolving around her to hit […]

  • Large Activision publisher sale on Steam discounts Call of Duty, Prototype, more

    Activision has put the majority of its library on sale through Steam this weekend, and if other titles weren’t included, it could be referred to as a Call of Duty sale. Below are a few standouts. Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare – Gold Edition 25% off Call of Duty: Ghosts 67% off Call of Duty: […]