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e3 2015

Forget Assassin’s Creed Hitman Is The Real Assassin Of E3 2015

by Ben Reeves on Jun 20, 2015 at 06:03 AM

With Hitman: Absolution, Io-Interactive hit on a winning formula in creating a series of small sandboxes for players to explore, sneak through and MacGyver their way to assassinate their target. For Io-Interactive’s first Hitman game on the newest batch of consoles, the studio is sticking to this formula, but now the sandboxes are bigger and more detailed than ever before.

Our E3 demo starts off with Agent 47 arriving at Paris fashion show. MI6 has asked for Agent 47’s helped after a man named Viktor Novikov gained access to a list of their covert operatives. An underground auction is taking place in the rooms above this fashion show and Agent 47 needs to sneak into that meeting, assassinate Novikov as well as his boss, and then disappear before any terrorist organizations can get their hands on MI6’s list of operatives.

Io-Interactive wants players to feel like they’ve been dropped into a giant sandbox rich with things to interact with. As Agent 47 enters the public areas of the show, he sees a reporter talking into a camera, explaining how she’ll be interviewing Novikov later that evening. This, of course, is an opportunity that Agent 47 can exploit to get close to his target, but it’s far from the only option. Io-Interactive is creating several story hooks similar to this, which players can hop onto an explore the level in hopes of edging themselves closer to their target. However, if players walk into the reporter or disrupt her taping, they may never learn about this planned meeting.

Each level of Hitman is filled with up to 300 unique A.I. routines that dictate the behavior of the NPCs, and dynamically react to player actions. At one moment in our demo, we watched a bodyguard discover one of Agent 47’s mines, disarm it, and then take it into an evidence holding area. This is a little annoying, but savvy players can use this A.I. behavior to smuggle other things into otherwise restricted areas. Imagine sneaking a listening device or even a bomb into a building that is otherwise locked down.

During our tour of the level we saw areas that Agent 47 could tamper with speakers and chandeliers, causing them to fall down on his victims. The fashion show is taking place inside a museum and one wing of the museum actually contains an ancient saber that Agent 47 can use as a weapon. Along the river is a set of fireworks being set up for the evening’s celebration, but if Agent 47 can find the detonation key, those fireworks will make a great distraction if they went off early. Of course, sometimes the stealthy approach is the more stylish one. If Agent 47 “acquires’ a bartenders outfit, he can poison his target or other NPCs that aren’t his target but who will help create opening into restricted areas.

Io-Interactive says it designs its levels like Swiss cheese, because there are so many entrances and exits everywhere as well as other holes that players will be able to use to sneak in or out of a room. The developer wants to let would be assassins play this new Hitman however they want, and after seeing the demo at E3 the way I want to play it is right now. Unfortunately, I’ll have to wait until Hitman’s digital release on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC on December 8. A boxed retail release is still being planned for a later date in 2016.