Agent 47 has been out of the game for more than six years, but come this November, the silent assassin is looking to return in a big way. I just got done playing a level of the game, and although I failed miserably at killing my target and escaping unscathed, I still walked away happy. Here are five details I noticed that should bring a smile to any fan of the series.
One of the stumbling blocks of the Hitman series has always been the feedback players receive for their actions. Much of the gameplay revolves around hiding in plain sight, and nothing is more frustrating than having your cover blown for reasons unknown. As I played through a level that required me to locate and kill a man dubbed the King of Chinatown, the game provided a number of on-screen notifications to make life as a cold-blooded assassin easier. There were environmental hints that could be triggered with the push of a button, warning messages that alerted me when I was trespassing or visibly armed, and arrows that would point out the direction of enemies and how suspicious they were. These clues didn't make me any better at the game (I died. A lot.), but they did notify me when I was about to do something that was going to make my life a lot harder.
During my playtime, I noticed a number of new moves Agent 47 had at his disposal. When brandishing a firearm, 47 has the ability to tag and execute enemies. Grabbing people from behind gives separate options for knocking them out or snapping their necks. Engaging in close-quarter combat brings up QTE prompts, which change up the way 47 takes out foes. 47's Instinct power helps identify targets and allows you to blend in with your surroundings. Which brings us to our next point...
Instinct Doesn't Break The Game:
As a longtime fan of the series, I was skeptical of 47's new Instinct ability, which allows the assassin to see the silhouettes of enemies through walls, along with their patrol routes. After trying it for myself, I'm no longer concerned. I rarely used the ability, and the perks it provides felt more like they were leveling the playing field than giving me an unfair advantage. There will also be a higher difficulty level that will disable Instinct and various other assists.
One of the cool and addictive parts of the Hitman: Sniper Challenge pre-order game was the inclusion of optional, Easter Egg-type challenges that you could undertake. A quick flip through the menus during the demo revealed that the level I was playing also had built-in challenges, along with bonuses for tracking down various disguises. These should provide a lot of replay value for revisiting levels even after you've pulled off the perfect kill.
More Kill Options:
One of the most entertaining aspects of past Hitman games is finding and performing alternate environmental kills on your target. Why walk up and shoot the lord of a British manor when you can poison his brandy, or drop a gas can down his chimney to ruin a peaceful fireside chat? In the Chinatown level I played, I ran across a number of ways to take down the target. You could poison the food at a local booth where he stops off for a quick snack, contaminate his drug supply, snipe him from a nearby building, rig his car to explode, or do something involving a gas canister (I found the can, but wasn't sure what to do with it). I can't wait to figure out each level's lethal puzzles for taking out targets.
For a comprehensive rundown of the E3 demo, check out Dan Ryckert's impressions.