Hitman: Absolution Hands-on Preview -- King of ChinatownBy Eric Eckstein - Posted Jun 05, 2012
Hitman: Absolution’s Agent 47 has a problem: His newest mark, a drug kingpin, is hanging out in the middle of a giant crowd, surrounded by police and he needs to be eliminated. Yes, you could just run into the fray, stab him in the eye and make a run for it…but it won’t be easy, and it certainly lacks style. Thankfully, IO Interactive’s latest offers a lot of options for would-be assassins.
The Hitman series has always been about multiple paths to victory, and after our E3 2011 demo, we were worried, but now we’re happy to say that Hitman: Absolution looks no different than previous titles. In this case, there are plenty of ways to win. For one, you could poison his food, but to do so, you’ll need to acquire a chef’s outfit in order to get closer to the food cart. This means taking out a chef out of plain sight and hiding the body (a conveniently placed dumpster will do the trick) to even start that path.
Or if you linger around the gazebo your target is at, you’ll overhear him calling in a fellow dealer, which you can track back to his apartment. There, you’ll find cocaine you can poison or a sniper rifle to just pop our mark from a distance. Better yet, grab some C4, place it on his car and then bump the back. The car alarm will get his attention, and then you can detonate it from a distance with enough room to escape.
All of this is handled very smoothly in the game, but again, there is a core stealth mechanic at play. You can grab lots of items in the field, but you’ll need to shake off suspicion and tails, as well as dealing with problems out of the watchful eyes of cops and citizens. For example, in order to take out the dealer, 47 needs to swipe a kitchen knife from one of the food vendors.
If someone spots you, they’ll be suspicious; they may even follow you around or report you. But if you manage that, you’ll need to wait until the dealer is somewhere secluded before 47 can even entertain executing him. And even when you dump the body, there will be blood pools left behind to be discovered.
Graphically, IO Interactive’s new Glacier 2 engine looks solid, rendering hundreds of people in a crowd without any slowdown or quirky issues, and considering it’s still 5 months from release, that’s a good sign. Even when I opened up on the crowd with my guns, all seemed to play smooth except for my escape; I was gunned down very quick. Everything handles well, and the Instinct mode trigger, which reveals clues as to how to proceed, works clean and smart. And yes, this can be turned off at harder ‘Professional’-level difficulty settings.
So far, Hitman: Absolution is looking like a great restart of the franchise, and we expect to learn even more about the game during E3 2012.