E3 2012: Hitman: Absolution (Impressions)

by: Travis -
During my rounds around the various E3 booths, I was able to catch a 20-minute presentation of the upcoming Hitman: Absolution from developer IO Interactive and publisher Square Enix. The campaign level on display featured Agent 47 traveling to the rural town of Hope in South Dakota with objectives to kill a gang and capture an individual with desirable information. With Agent 47 having gone rogue since the previous games, he can now set his own rules for accomplishing missions ranging from stealth approaches to hectic gun battles. After the presentation had ended, I already formed about three to four ideas for completing the level's objectives that reconfirmed my excitement and interest in the series.

The primary message engrained in my thoughts as I left the demonstration was the return of non-linear gameplay choices in Hitman: Absolution. Just as with previous games in the series, Agent 47 will be able accomplish objectives in a variety of methods with accompanying performance ratings for the player's use of stealth and lethal actions. Bonus points are rewarded to players that remain silent through missions and without sounding alarms or leaving a trail of bodies.

Agent 47 will have access to multiple new and fancy tricks that will assist tremendously in completing objectives and avoiding dangerous situations. On select difficulties, instinct mode can be activated that highlights points of interest including targets and areas of distraction. In addition, Agent 47 can use acquired instinct for entering a point-and-shoot mode that's similar to the mark and execute system from Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Conviction. Once the mode is activated, the game freezes and allows players to select multiple targets for execution with the utmost finesse.

Freedom in Hitman: Absolution expands beyond objectives to gameplay additions with improvised weapons and deadly distractions layered throughout level environments. Agent 47 can quickly improvise when requiring a weapon by grabbing objects located around levels, which may range from a screw driver to other common household items. As well, players can take advantage of distractions that can be used for drawing enemies away or executing targets with "accidents." One particular example showcased in the demonstration had Agent 47 leading a target under a car lift that mysteriously drops once in position.

I was pleasantly surprised with the game's presentation of crisp detail in objects and textures to the gripping and cinematic score that blended flawlessly with the in-game action. The Hitman series' crowd system returns with a wealth of improvements in both AI and variety of characters. The world in Hitman: Absolution is far more gritty than past games in the series with exterior and interior sections that are endlessly cluttered with a variety of objects. The musical score in Hitman: Absolution sets the perfect backdrop for both hunting a target to performing the execution.

The campaign level demonstrated contained only a small portion of the gameplay that awaits in the full game, which promises to provide players with a near endless amount of options for completing objectives. Hitman: Absolution was no doubt one of the most gripping and entertaining games featured at this year's E3. Clear some room on your calendar for November 20 when Hitman: Absolution launches on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and Windows PC.

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