Hitman: Absolution Preview
Agent 47 has planned a triumphant return and the developers at Io Interactive are working the most dynamic title of the series. Stealth fans haven’t really received their just due this generation; even the fantastic Assassin’s Creed franchise adopts more traits from open-world sandbox games rather than pure stealth titles like Thief. But in Hitman: Absolution, you’ll need patience, cunning, and timing, all of which are required for success in a game that revolves around the concept of stealth. Utilize the environment to the best of your ability, hide from eagle-eyed pursuers, and achieve your objective with unparalleled poise and precision.
As you might expect, we’ll be able to take down our targets in a number of different ways. In addition to the obvious options, we’ll have a variety of cover-based takedowns plus the ability to use everyday items as deadly weapons. See that electrical cord over there? ...one guess what that can be used for. The designers are calling these "improvised weapons" and they enhance the freedom of choice; i.e., what am I going to use to deal with this particular target? What’s easiest? What will draw the least attention? What do I have at my disposal? Of course, we still have a story to follow so sometimes we’ll be led down a certain path, which is fine by me.
Remaining unnoticed will be a common goal, and the larger number of NPCs this time around will be both a blessing and a curse. Stealing a policeman’s costume and wandering freely through a large crowd shouldn’t be too hard, but when you slip up and everyone is looking for you, bowling over pedestrians will paint a big ol’ bull’s-eye on your back. The environments will range greatly in size and design, which means you’ll always be forced to adapt to your surroundings. Plus, the team has built a brand new AI system called the “comprehensive intelligence spectrum,” which means those NPCs are capable of perceiving even small changes in their environment.
They will also react realistically and communicate with each other, which means your behavior will be constantly on display and must be tempered. In other words, this isn’t the old-fashioned style of stealth where when one enemy spots you, he and all his cronies immediately begin to fire in your direction. These are more intelligent foes and depending on your action, they will react differently. Overall, Hitman: Absolution appears to be a game we’ve been waiting for, one with a clear-cut focus on stealth, and one that rewards the patient and crafty. After all, isn’t that the point of being an elite assassin? Can't wait to give this one a try.
7/5/2011 Ben Dutka