Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Hitman: Absolution - It'll be good, right?

IO Interactive has released a 16 minute chunk of gameplay from Hitman: Absolution, and my first instinct as a fan of the series was to whine and complain in comment fields. I’ve stopped my sadness induced hyper-ventilating and will now attempt to look for the positives in the latest stab at the Hitman series. It’s no secret that I love Hitman: Blood Money and that I would be happy with more of the same. The initial words and footage of Absolution suggest a bit of an overhaul, pulling a Splinter Cell Conviction on the series, with new abilities, mechanics and motives. It’s not all bad though, right?

We begin with a dramatic entrance as Agent 47 crashes through a window on the upper floor, just as the police kick in the doors to the library where the barcode branded assassin is taking refuge. The first thing he does is hang from the ledge and drop down. It isn’t a scripted movement like climbing and hanging has been in previous games, which suggests an increased amount of manoeuvrability.

Later on in the video, 47 hangs, climbs and shimmies around more ledges above his eye level. He’s not as nimble as Ezio, and doesn’t look to be leaping down on enemies for slightly ridiculous airborne assassinations. As long as it’s just used as an optional way to navigate levels, I have no issues with its inclusion. It will dishearten me lots however if it turn into Hitman’s Creed.

Another feature is the improved hand to hand combat. In Blood Money, fisticuffs could be used to wrestle a gun from an enemy as a last resort. It was a nice touch, especially as the gun could sometimes go off during the struggle, forcing you to adapt to the situation or reload a previously saved game. Absolution takes unarmed combat further and introduces a sleeper hold.

Previous games allowed you to knock people unconscious with a sedative syringe. It was efficient, but you could only take two syringes into any mission, meaning their use was fairly limited and an extremely tactical decision. A sleeper hold that gives you as many takedowns as 47’s arms can muster will make non-lethal mission approaches much easier, but is there a risk it can become too easy? We’ll have to wait and see.

And finally, the walkthrough gives us a glimpse at how 47 can deal with suspicious AI. It looks like the days of standing in a pile of corpses with the magic disguise that grants you immunity are gone. It’ll be interesting to see the new disguise mechanics displayed properly. If they can be worked into any gameplay scenario then it could be brilliant. If these are scripted sequences only triggered in certain areas then it might be a lousy gimmick. But I’m staying optimist in this post, so I’ll put on my happy face and assume it will be good.

I’m going to be watching Hitman Absolution like a robotic sentry hawk on guard duty. I love the Hitman series and really want the next instalment to be just as good, if not better than the last.

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