Eurogamer Expo: Hands on with Hitman: Absolution
Hitman has been one of those staple titles that almost every gamer will have fond memories of. I would spend hours, to the astonishment of my brother, repeating level after level just to get the perfect set of kills with not a chance of discovery. As the series went on, even though the graphics hadn’t shifted with the generations, Hitman’s addictive core gameplay of pulling off the perfect hit remained and kept the series such a success for years to come.
In the past few years however Agent 47 has been in the shadows, with the future of Hitman seriously in question, until Absolution was announced, leaving me salivating and frothing at the mouth ready for another hit, this time promising that IO Interactive have set out to reboot the franchise and breathe fresh air into Agent 47, giving him new skills, gritty kills and finally the chance to go in all guns blazing and stand a chance of survival bringing it bang up to date… Has it worked though?
When Absolution kicked off, you could immediately tell just how far it’s come along, with a brand new graphics engine really pushing just how realistic Agent 47 looks. Starting off in an alley just off the main market in China Town everything was looking as you’d expect, crisp, clean and just cool until you push through a set of small double doors into the bustling market street and then it really hits you, crowds in Absolution don’t consist of just a few static NPCs, they’re filled close to bursting with fully animated characters ready to react uniquely to every action you take. This makes the game feel light years ahead of previous titles in the franchise.
My hit was a mob boss in a small pagoda located smack bang in the middle of the market surrounded by armed guards ready to tear Agent 47 apart, but as you’d expect from a Hitman game choices are abundant. Do I set off the car alarm, bundle a guard into the boot after taking his clothes then take down the entire force one by one? I could knock out the chef by the food stall, poison an appetizing bowl of noodles and then feed them generously to the boss as I slip away? A classic sniper shot from the roof? Or just go old school, pull out the Ballers and go straight to town shooting anything that moves?
Well although I tried all of those routes (and more, trust me, a lot, lot more) the first I couldn’t resist trying was the gun-ho route, after all what kind of reviewer would I be if I didn’t try everything out? It was fun and it felt right, in earlier Hitman titles louder techniques just fell flat, failing due to mechanics and NPCs built upon quiet ideas, but this time around gun fights feel more akin to action titles such as GTA and Resident Evil which for me is great news. Sure I, quite simply, love making quiet hits but it’s always brilliant to have pure action to fall back on.
One of the newest features is instinct mode, working a lot like detective mode from Batman: Arkham Asylum, it gives you a quick break down of important objects and people around you, giving you all the tools you need for the perfect hit, if need be that is. This again was a great little addition, meaning hints can be tucked away and accessed when needed, as well as making crowd navigation that much better, and considering the new size it’s definitely a necessity and not luxury.
Efforts by IO Interactive to revamp the series have truly blossomed, it’s still as difficult as ever to make the perfect hit and slip away unseen but, let’s face it, being the perfect Hitman is a hard life which requires you to study your surroundings, the people and on some occasions hide in a cupboard for a long time… I said it was a hard life, not a particularly exciting one at all times.
Overall Hitman: Absolution is turning into one of the best games you’ll get your hands this year, with everything you know and love from earlier instalments bundled along with fresh graphics, some amazing improvements and finally amazing gun play.
Agent 47 is back in black!