The lights are on
If you saw our Test Chamber episode on Hitman: Sniper Challenge, you know that we’re eagerly anticipating the upcoming Hitman: Absolution. Square Enix has brought Agent 47’s newest assignment to E3, and I had a chance to sit down with game director Tore Blystad for a guided demo.
Titled “The King of Chinatown,” this assignment tasks Agent 47 with taking out a shady drug kingpin in a crowded marketplace. The assassin spots his target early after turning on Instinct, a filter that outlines your hit in red and other enemies in yellow. Considering the King is standing in a gazebo in the middle of the marketplace, there’s no immediate and safe way to take him out without attracting plenty of unwanted attention.
After surveying the situation for a bit, 47 receives a tip that the King is about to meet up with one of his regular drug connections. Working on this info, 47 starts to head down the alley towards the dealer’s apartment. A guard is positioned at the base of the stairs, so it’s not quite as easy as walking up and knocking on the door. To distract the guard, 47 sabotages a fuse box, bringing down the lights in the area. When the guard leaves to investigate, 47 is free to approach the drug dealer as he exits his apartment.
At this point, Blystad decided to shadow the dealer instead of immediately dispatching him. He follows the gaudily-dressed criminal down a dark alley and begins to choke him out from behind. The player is given two choices in this situation: jam on the square button to knock him out, or press triangle to snap his neck clean in half. Blystad opted for the merciful route, which left the dealer unconscious in a dumpster instead of dead in an alley. Before laying the dealer to rest, 47 goes through a drastic change of appearance by donning the sleeping foe’s tracksuit, hat, and glasses.
With his newly-acquired disguise, 47 is able to walk directly up to the King. Blystad does just that, which triggers a discussion between the two. The King wants to sample the product before he purchases the entire stash, so he follows 47 to the dealer’s apartment. Once the King is safely out of public view in the drug house, 47 pulls out a silenced pistol and puts a few rounds in his chest. After stuffing the kingpin into a locker, the assassin is free to casually exit the area without tipping anyone off to his existence.
With Blystad’s closeness and experience with the game, he was unsurprisingly able to breeze through the assignment. Anyone who’s played a Hitman game before knows that your first (or second, third, fourth...) time on an assignment doesn’t always go quite as smoothly. A certain amount of trial and error is at the core of the series, and experimenting with new methods is usually a blast. One look at the in-game challenge list makes it clear that the mission can be accomplished with approaches that are wildly different to what Blystad demonstrated. One involves dropping several sacks of corn onto the King’s head, while another rewards you for shoving him into a manhole. Even if you take the same approach Blystad did, it’s possible to kill the King by poisoning the drugs before he samples them.
Each mission concludes with a score that tallies your silent kills, civilian deaths, alerts, and other statistics. The game doesn’t feature any traditional multiplayer, but the team wants to foster an atmosphere of competition by showing where your score stacks up against your friends (and your country’s average score) at the end of each level. Coupled with the variety of ways you can approach a kill, there’s sure to be loads of replayability in Hitman: Absolution. We’re looking forward to its November 20th release even more after our time with it at E3.
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Though I think there are good avenues for multiplayer here (like an Assassin's Creed or The Ship type hunt and kill scenario), I'm glad they didn't unnecessarily add it in.
As disappointing as this game seemed, its starting to shape up. I'm still sad Bateson doesn't voice 47 anymore though.