Hitman Absolution screenshot
Hitman Absolution screenshot

The last section of the demo heavily recalled the last act of Luc Besson's Leon (or The Professional, if you're a US reader). In a tense climax, the still-disguised 47 attempted to descend through a busy apartment building packed with patrolmen and SWAT officers. The Instinct mechanic raised its head again here, allowing 47 to perform an action that will help him to blend in with his surroundings - in this case, he raised the collar on his uniform. There's a nice tense slow-down effect in place when someone starts to look at you directly, your disguise gauge filling as you fall under detailed scrutiny. It also seems that you can use specific objects to help you hide in plain sight, loitering by a box of donuts left for the amassed troops, for example.

Even here it's not entirely clear how safe you'll be. While at the refreshments table one cop started showing a keen interest in Agent 47, mistaking him for an old colleague. The do-gooder started harping on at 47, who responded only with steely silence and the occasional non-verbal response. For a while discovery seemed imminent, but then our new friend abandoned his attempts at conversation. Is it possible to be rumbled here? It's not clear, but the moment certainly shows how the new chatty NPCs can be used to amplify tension.

The whole experience looks thoroughly impressive, and there's no doubt that Hitman Absolution will cause a big splash if the full game is as detailed and as carefully-produced as this demo. However, I also think that veteran fans of the series will be up in arms about some of the departures on display. While we've got to be careful about assuming too much on the basis of one presentation, it does seem that Absolution has shed much of the open nature and forward planning that distinguished the series in the past. There's no map, so it seems you're encouraged to be reactive rather than proactive, and in contrast to Agent 47's established MO, it didn't seem as if there was much punishment for killing innocents.

We're used to playing Hitman like professionals - going unnoticed, and making our hits look like accidents - but at times the Absolution demo felt worryingly close to The Bourne Identity. This was especially true during the "high octane" segment, leading up to the confrontation with the chopper. It seems hard to believe that you'll be able to skip such an orchestrated set-piece, and yet it's this kind of thing that will put the collective nose of fans out of joint. The name of the game is "Hitman" after all, not "Runaway Cop-Killer".

Hitman Absolution screenshot

Still, IO Interactive has promised that it has stayed loyal to the spirit of the series, that Silent Assassin ratings will return and, most importantly, that you'll be free to find your own way through each level. In all fairness, this last element is the kind of thing that's very hard to show off in a 15-minute E3 demo; on the other hand, you can't blame people for having concerns about the apparent changes - or indeed for lamenting the absence of Jesper Kyd, whose excellent scores contributed greatly to the Agent 47's past outings.

Regardless, few would question the technical quality of the game we saw last week, and IO has certainly succeeded in grabbing everyone's attention. One thing's for sure: Hitman has changed, and from here there's no turning back.

Hitman Absolution is due for release on Xbox 360, PS3 and PC in 2012.

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User Comments

Gollum_85's Avatar


Looks promising!
Posted 18:44 on 04 July 2011
dazzadavie's Avatar


Sounds a little like the reboot Splinter Cell received, trying to give it more action and fast pace to bring in new blood, while keep what was loved about the old games. Doing the missions how you like.
I like the fact you pull phone lines out the walls to use, thats one weak wall, or is every place plasterboard now?
Posted 09:20 on 17 June 2011
SM7THY's Avatar


i used to love hit man games, I fondly remember walking down the street with the piano wire and people would just run away scream OH NO!
Posted 22:29 on 16 June 2011
venatis's Avatar


I have actually loved all the Hitman games, Blood Money being the best for me! Can not wait for this one to come out looks and sounds great!
Posted 18:09 on 16 June 2011
mydeaddog's Avatar

mydeaddog@ Optimaximal

Originally Posted by Optimaximal
It's worth noting they've also dropped Bateson as the voice/character model of 47, which is strange.

True! And the actress who played Diana has been ruled out too, which is sad. Still, as someone over on rllmuk pointed out, he only had about 10 lines in the last game... (which I loved).
Posted 17:46 on 16 June 2011
scaz2244's Avatar


been too long since i played hitman sounds awesome!! nice reference to leon there neon looking forward to scenes like that.
Posted 17:07 on 16 June 2011
Wido's Avatar


Looking forward to this game!
Posted 16:19 on 16 June 2011
draytone's Avatar


It's weird how this relatively low key game has now become such a big title... and the film was semi decent compared to other tripe ridden game to film thingys.
Posted 16:04 on 16 June 2011
Optimaximal's Avatar


It's worth noting they've also dropped Bateson as the voice/character model of 47, which is strange.
Posted 14:48 on 16 June 2011

Game Stats

Release Date: 20/11/2012
Developer: Io Interactive
Publisher: Square-Enix Co
Genre: Action
Rating: PEGI 18+
Site Rank: 2,210 5
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