Hitman Absolution

Hitman Absolution Features for PS3

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Hitman: Absolution's first appearance at last year's E3 was an undisputed success. IO Interactive's reborn Agent 47 immediately became one of the show's major talking points, and by the end of the week Square Enix's booth was adorned with dozens of nomination placards. And yet despite this warm reception, many fans of the series were left dismayed: it seemed as if IO had quietly snuffed out the open-ended design that had previously defined the franchise, leaving in its place a streamlined action shooter.

To make matters worse, Agent 47 appeared to have turned into a cop-killing murder machine - a slap-headed Jason Bourne, forced to evade a bullet-spewing helicopter on the roof of a gritty apartment block. The demo itself was certainly stylish, but aside from the protagonist's notable lack of hair, it seemed to have little in common with its predecessors.

Last week the game finally reappeared, and this time Square Enix copied the approach it took during the promotion of Deus Ex: Human Revolution – showing two demos of the same level, played in completely different ways. The new footage certainly demonstrates the game's versatility, but is this really the same Agent 47 that we know and love?

Here, with the help of game director Tore Blystad, we compare Hitman Absolution to its predecessors. Bear in mind that some of what follows is conjecture, as Absolution is still in development with no confirmed release date.


Plot

The old games: In the past, plot has never been a major component of the Hitman series. Most of the storytelling in each game has been confined to the cutscenes that sandwich each level, with Agent 47's genetic origins regularly cropping up as a narrative ingredient. Arguably the only recurrent supporting character of note is Diana Burnwood, Agent 47's plummy handler, and even she is little more than a voice, most of the time.

Hitman Absolution: Clearly we'll know more when we've played the full game, but for now it seems obvious that storytelling will play a bigger role in proceedings. Indeed, given the new focus on cinematic trappings, you could argue that it's the biggest single force behind the game's new directions.

From what little we know of Absolution's setup, Agent 47 appears to be on the run in the USA; at the very least, he's operating without any assistance from the International Contract Agency, who previously employed him. There's a recurrent villain in the story – a weapons manufacturer named Blake Dexter, voiced by Keith Carradine. Dexter somewhat resembles M Emmet Walsh in Blood Simple, and comes across as a cowboy bully type. Dexter is looking for a young girl named Victoria, and has hired the services of a contract killer named Wade – who looks suspiciously like Lynch, the eponymous star of IO's other psychotic series.

"The very high level story is the one that everyone sees," says game director Tor Blystad. "It'll be between levels and in places you wouldn't naturally need to plan. Everything else we've tried to cram in so that you can interact with it. You can ruin the setups, do whatever you want with the characters.

"That's always been the problem with the Hitman games – the player can kill everyone in the scene! If you have a main character in there, what do you do? After one second he's killed, and all your big drama disappears."

Finally, note that Absolution will have a far darker tone than its immediate predecessor, Hitman: Blood Money. The most recent demo opens with the violent murder of a nun at the hands of one of Wade's thugs, and later 47 eavesdrops as a security guard is tortured. The bleak approach is also reflected in the shadowy art style, which immediately contrasts with the bright aesthetics of past games – particularly the second and fourth in the series.

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robotboys's Avatar

robotboys@ Bloodstorm

I'm an old fan but after seeing the game in action during MCM last year I'm still looking forward to playing it as much as Tomb Raider.
Posted 12:48 on 25 January 2012
Bloodstorm's Avatar

Bloodstorm

Old fans won't be happy but newer ones will see this as renovation.
Posted 20:40 on 20 January 2012
SexyJams's Avatar

SexyJams

I'd like to thank you for this article Neon. Personally, I have never even seen a Hitman game being played, but after seeing the demo at the EuroGamer Expo have been very excited for Hitman Absolution.

This feature helped me put into perspective the differences between Absolution and the previous games. If I had more time, there's no doubt that I would give Blood Money a play through. However, with so many new games to play, I guess I'll just have to listen to people like you talk about it.
Posted 19:27 on 20 January 2012
Batmamerc's Avatar

Batmamerc

God I hope it's good, after splinter cell went all shooting is the best option we need a proper decent stealth game where your rewarded with been as stealthy as possible, I too loved the end of level news paper In blood money I read every word on them pages n loved how other articles on the page seemed erelevant untill later on in the game wen one of the articles was a used in a level n u go oh yeah that's what it was on about, so hope thats still there. Not bothered Bout the guns though blood money had a big selection for you to collect n store in your armory but I only ever used anything but the silenced pistol wen I did a rampage n just went mad in a rehab clinic or a suburban street. Talking of the sub urban st I hope there are a couple of levels like that in daylight especially stealth games or stealth missions always go down the nighttime route (cod, operation flashpoint, battlefield, splinter cell etc). Anyway good article I look forward to hearing more.
Posted 13:56 on 19 January 2012

Game Stats

Release Date: 20/11/2012
Developer: Io Interactive
Publisher: Square-Enix Co
Genre: Action
Rating: PEGI 18+
Site Rank: 2,121 289
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