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PAX East: Hitman Absolution Preview

PAX East: Hitman Absolution Preview

by Catherine CaiApril 7, 2012

I had a chance to preview a new demo build for Hitman: Absolution in Square Enix’s swanky, media suite in the Westin Hotel next to the convention where PAX East was being held. Unfortunately, Square Enix was demoing the game for us and I didn’t get a chance to get a hands on with it. That doesn’t mean that they didn’t reveal some more 47 badassery.

Diana Burnwood, also known as Agent 47’s handler or “the British lady with the hot voice”, is an ICA traitor marked as a Class 1A threat for termination. And who better to carry out the assignment than 47 himself? Yes, Diana fans who have been fearing the worse since the latest Hitman: Absolution trailer that revealed Diana’s death, Diana is actually dead. Because of 47’s attachment to his handler, he’s willing to grant her dying request of protecting this girl who, for some reason or another, is being kidnapped by some bad folks.

The level that Square Enix showed off was the same one shown in the latest trailer. The developers played through the level twice, one showing off the “professional” stealth playthrough and then the “let’s go psycho” playthrough. However, according to the devs, the focus of this demo was about skill sets and gameplay.

47 starts off dressed as a priest in an elevator shaft. Goons have already invaded the Rosewood Orphanage, a religiously-run organization. The bad ‘uns haven’t hesitated in tearing the place apart to find Diana’s girl and the level begins with the camera panning over a dead nurse falling over into the elevator shaft. Well, folks, Hitman’s as dark and macabre as ever.

One of the first things I noticed through both playthroughs was that it was much more linear than the past Hitmans have been. However, I think Eidos and Square Enix have already gotten enough flak about the levels being too linear from fans. Today, Square Enix has made plenty of promises that more sandbox levels are to come, so I’ll wait for more demos before I pass judgment.

Just to clear the air, Hitman purists, you’ll probably be raging at the latest iteration of the series. However, Blood Money deviated plenty from the past few Hitmans, so I view a lot of the changes as natural evolution of the series.

Generally, a lot of the flaws from Blood Money have been improved and streamlined. In order to reflect the fact that 47 no longer has the agency’s resources at his disposal, the level maps have been eliminated. The map’s been replaced with a ‘Detective Mode’-like implementation called Instinct. Essentially, 47 can see enemies through walls and see the path that they’re walking on. However, unlike Detective Mode, which can be toggled on and off infinitely, Instinct can be used up as you use it to determine an enemy’s pathway or attempt to blend in. You’ll gain Instinct as reward for pulling off headshots or by hiding bodies. How much Instinct you gain or use up is dependent on difficulty level. As the difficulty ramps up, the harder it is to gain and easier it is to burn Instinct. I’m not sure if it was just the demo build or not, but I saw no evidence of an inventory. Whether or not this is because the inventory’s been completely eliminated, I can’t say for sure. However, the inventory has definitely been de-emphasized as there’s now a variety of props in the environment to interact with. Rather than being able to only pick up weapon-like items as in the past Hitmans, 47 is now able to pick up mundane things such as, in the case of the Rosewood Orphanage, bibles and crucifixes, to knock out enemies. I’m actually a fan of these changes since it reduces the stop-and-go aspect of the past few games, where you’d have to stop for a moment to check the map for enemies or switch around items via the inventory.

The shooting and cover system has been tweaked to be similar to the one seen in Deus Ex: Human Revolution. In order to improve sneaking, 47 can now stick to walls for cover and quickly shift from cover to cover. I had a moment of deja vu when I saw 47 approach a vent, open it up, and crawl in. Thankfully, the vent was fairly straightforward and just a crawl into the next room. If the vent system in Absolution was as extensive as the one that I saw in Human Revolution, I would’ve walked away. I’m playing Hitman to be 47, the barcoded assassin… not 47, bald creeper of AC vents.

The knockout/execution and body-hiding mechanics have been greatly improved. A huge point of contention for me for the first three Hitman games have been a lack of melee combat. Melee was introduced in Blood Money, but stealth knockouts from the back still relied on syringes. In Absolution, when taking down an enemy from behind, you have to option to have 47 execute said poor fellow with a quick snap of the neck, or to choke hold him until he’s knocked out. Body disposal in Blood Money was limited to garbage dumps and ice chests, but in Absolution, bodies can be thrown into closets… and you can be the creep who jumps in with the body to hide away from another curious enemy.

The alarm system hasn’t changed all too much, although the developers have definitely turned down its sensitivity. I remember one small misstep in Hitman 2 was enough to set off every guard on the premises running after you. There’s now a small curved blue bar in the UI at the bottom left of the screen next to the minimap that shows your enemies that shows whether or not you’ve been detected. The blue bar turns yellow when your enemies have become suspicious and you’ll be alerted by a giant warning across the screen, or if they’ve caught a glimpse of 47 passing by. Alerted enemies will be highlighted in red on the minimap. Otherwise, if they’re wandering about blissfully unaware of 47’s existence, then they’ll be highlighted in white. If you’ve managed to stay undetected for a bit, then everything reverts back to normal and the blue bar will restore itself. However, if you’ve decided to riddle up the place in bullets, then you’ll be alerted by another blare of lovely red text across the screen along with a swell of music. As has been done with the past few Hitmans, music cues are determined by your action. So if you’re running around blasting heads off, the music will be blasting with you.

That’s basically what’s shown in the gameplay demo, but Square Enix also answered some questions. When asked about loadouts, they couldn’t say much since things were still under negotiation and development, but they did mention that since 47 is on his own now for the first time, his resources are reduced. Therefore, props were going to be emphasized and made appropriate for each environment. What props are going to be available to play with (and their level of kid-friendliness) is still under negotiation, since there’s a “fine line between a crucifix and a dildo.”

Overall, they profusely promised that there was going to be plenty more for E3 2012, especially the sandbox elements. So definitely head to E3 2012, or tune in with TGF for E3 in order to see more about Absolution.

About The Author
Catherine Cai
  • dreadelf

    Im sure you had fun writing this article eh? 😉

  • Elinor Sturgell

    I want to write the tales for game titles and I want to perform with Square Enix. I Am in school correct now so what courses really should I focus on mostly to get there?
    I’ve had my English lecturers read components of my stories and they are fascinated with my work.

  • Louisa Ellman

    I want to pursue a profession in graphic design or sport design. My dream would be to be capable to 1 day function for Disney or Sq. Enix. How would you get a work with them? I know it can not be as easy as applying for any outdated job.

  • Anne Felton

    I want to compose the stories for game titles and I want to function with Square Enix. I Am in college right now so what courses really should I emphasis on mainly to get there?
    I’ve had my English teachers read parts of my tales and they are intrigued with my work.

  • Scorch Delta-62

    I applied to square enix to be a beta tester for the new Final Fantasy XIV and i was just wondering if anyone who has already applied is able to tell me about how long it takes square enix to email you back with an answer. Thanks!

  • stephen m

    I already know how great Square Enix is. PS1, please. Do you know any?
    I guess I’d prefer turn-based ones, especially tactical. But whatever you can come up with is good.

  • ademuth93

    They are ruining games that don’t belong to them:Dungeion siege 3,Thief4 they turn entire franchies upside down and “japanize” it with every ascpect of an american game being japaneas WTF!And all of their rpgs arent real rpgs just streamlind adventure games (Final Fantasy) please square enix:quit makeing video games!Does anyone agree?

  • Brody S

    What programming software does Square-Enix use to create their Final Fantasy games, and their in game CGI scenes?

    Also what kind of laptop can I get to program and output my games at such a horsepower?

  • Zack Faria

    it seems people keep taking equality violence away from games, first the games start keeping you from killing children, and some keep you from killing women. in Hitman you could kill adults only, but is absolution going to be the same? Or are they going to life-preserve woman?

  • The Villain

    In a science experiment, the object in discussion increased in lenght from 47 mm to 51 mm. How do I calculate the percentage change and what is the formula for that?

  • skillz

    I need to find out what the carbon footprint, expressed in tonnes of C02 for a company who uses 331,373kgs per annum of recycled cardboard, 37,249kgs of plastic punnets, 47,927.62kgs of plastic film, which is made up of polypropylene and polyethylene, and 6,039kgs of salad dressing bottles per annum.

    I need the answer asap, along with how you came to this conclusion and the workings invloved.

  • arronwrath

    What if you have 3 number 13s and 3 number 17s and 1 number 16 and all together you have 47 .. what is the disorder you get and some information about it please … thank you !
    This is a Biology Project and i cant find any details about my case in google at all … if this helps lets suppose that there are 2 number 16s not one …maybe i lost one but i can easily find it .. what would be the case then?

  • nyyankees1123

    I am 47 new to programming. What are my chances to become an intermediate Flex 3/Actionscript 3 developer at 47 and find a decent job? How long will that take? How many hours of study per day should I devote?

  • mmminja

    i love the final fantasy graphics, so i was wondering if square enix is planning on making another movie (like final fantasy versus XIII 😉

  • Rkmc

    I am using a shovel and wheelbarrow to move soil to the opposite end of a yard. How much should I charge to do this for an area of dirt which is 47 feet long 13 feet wide and nine inches deep?

  • clntvrrt

    I was given my promotional code but never used it is there anyway i can find it?

  • Nick

    My dad’s wondering how many hours of sleep he should get, he is 47 years old, any one?

  • Rishabh Bajpai

    I LOVE Rpgs and I need a really big list of good ones that people have played and love. Anything like Final Fantasy I’ll play (Have all of them already along with Pokemon and Zelda) Thanks!

  • colingrillo

    Even if it is surpassed in the near future, it will probably resemble an AK-47. What a living legend.

  • Johnky J

    My dad is 47 years old and he used to run cross country in high school. He has always wanted to run a marathon but has never gotten around to do so. While he has not run in years, he is still pretty thin and doesn’t have any major health problems. Does anyone know a schedule that will gradually get him fit enough to run a marathon (at least finish)? He’s probably going to need to start off really really slow. All advice (diet, training schedules, stretching excercises, length of time he should train) will be appreciated. Thanks.

  • borabora5524

    I keep reading that if American Soldiers search an Iraqi house, and find one AK-47, that is fine, because it is normal for every Iraqi man to have one to defend his house.

    How can you be a brutal dictator if you permit your citizens/subjects to have weapons? This makes no sense to me.

  • MentallyCryppled

    Painting walls, and it ends up being about 47 square meters. How much paint do I need for one coat?

  • heavenly sword

    Example final fantasy kingdomhearts I’ve wondered how do they come up with amazing story line? Who rights it? The story inspire me in a way. I just love it I wanna know how hey write it

  • kamikami

    I want to email square enix with a game idea. I don’t think they would pay attention to me but I want to email them anyways. If you can give me the email address I’m asking for then thanks!!! :)
    Please Don’t Say That I’m Wasting My Time or Anything Like That.

  • _marky_mark_

    I have a level 47 night elf druid on world of warcraft and it has been fun up till now as i have tried out a death knight on my sisters account and there just for me! But i have to get to 55 first. Any help with leveling quickly? I also find druids pretty boring, i guess they’re funner when your a higher level.