Hitman: Absolution – E3 Impressions

The rain quietly drizzles on a concrete window sill on a dark night, setting an ominous scene in the room. Suddenly something crashes through it, breaking the silence as shimmering glass is strewn into the street. It has only been about 15 seconds, but we already know that Agent 47 is on the loose again, and he’s just as intense as ever.

The ever meticulous and enigmatic Agent 47 has shared a number of thrilling adventures with us, and after his absence in the past few years the sight of his clean pressed suit and ultra smooth chrome dome is enough to prickle the hairs on the back of your head. We don’t yet know what’s brought our hitman back out of the shadows, but in the time that has passed his skills have become as tight as ever. Our demo begins with Agent 47 hiding on a ledge in an old library, with over a dozen cops on the floor below him, discussing their hunt for a notorious perp. Obviously they’re looking for our anti-hero, and while they know he’s not going to be an easy catch, they still have no idea what they’re in for. Babbling like a bunch of green horns to each other, they disperse throughout the library as Agent 47 drops into cover and begins making his way across the rooms.

As he smoothly transfers from cover to cover, we continuously hear the police chattering to each other, not only giving away their positions, but also making it readily apparent they’re completely unprepared for what’s about to hit them. As Agent 47 manoeuvres stealthily between the book cases and desks, we get a quick view of an ability that allows him to pick out the locations of enemies behind walls, briefly illuminating their outlines where they stand. After dispatching the first guard, Agent 47 encounters a power cord, which he deftly uses to silently kill the next guard. We soon overhear another conversation as another pair of guards attempts to fix the power to bring lights back on. Their success makes staying sneaking much more difficult, so as they turn and leave it becomes time to destroy the fuses permanently. Of course, this draws the guards’ attention again, and here we see another special ability, which briefly draws a fiery looking line depicting the guards’ intended path as they return to the fuse box. Using this to evade them cuts things close, but he makes it away completely unnoticed as a result.

As Agent 47 continues through the library, he encounters more items in the environment to use for dispatching enemies, such as a stone bust to smash over a guard’s head. Unfortunately, another guard becomes suspicious when his partner stops talking, but this is easily remedied as Agent 47 climbs a ledge and pulls the suspicious cop over it, dropping him in a pit for a quick and easy kill. Eventually though, stealth is no longer an option as a large group of police stand around an entrance. Having run out of options, he grabs one who is distracted by his failing flashlight, and uses him as a human shield. The cop shouts nervously, “I don’t want to die!” as about ten of his fellow officers aim down their sights at the agent and his new hostage, afraid to make the wrong move and fire at their friend. Using this advantage Agent 47 backs towards doorway, and once out of the line of fire knocks his shield out and makes a run for it. The action picks up here, and escaping is imperative since Agent 47 is heavily outnumbered and quickly running out of breathing room.

He climbs toward the roof, shooting out the chain on a chandelier on the way to hopefully knock out and distract a couple guards. Jumping out a window to the next building, a helicopter swoops in firing a lead storm his way, tearing up the wooden shelves and boxes scattered around the room he lands in. Deftly dodging through the room he encounters a lone guard, who is quickly dispatched, and after stealing the cop’s uniform Agent 47 goes incognito. Walking past the helicopter nonchalantly, and then through a group of druggie’s apartment (who are completely freaking out in a hilarious manner), Agent 47 continues to make his way out of the police infested building with very little suspicion in his way. It isn’t long before another officer approaches him, but having only mistaken him for an old friend it causes no trouble, and our demo ends with Agent 47 disappearing into the crowd outside, completely unscathed.

This is clearly just an example of a short mission we can expect to encounter in Hitman: Absolution, but it tells a lot by showing a large number of game mechanics, some familiar, and some new. Our presenters at IO Interactive tell us that there are many ways to beat this mission, as well as the others we’ll see in the game. So far the graphics look fantastic, the abilities of Agent 47 look smoothly implemented, and it seems we’re well on our way to see another ‘Hit’ on our hands soon. Hopefully the rest of the game is this polished, because it has me hungrily anticipating my chance to helm the controls of this incredible stealth assassin.