After last years E3 we came back with tales of the new addition to the Hitman franchise, met with a bit of hostility from the fans that would consider themselves hardcore, well here at Gamercast we've been playing Hitman ever since Agent 47 walked through the white tiled hallways of the test facility in Codename 47, and although the game has changed drastically, from here it looks like it is definitely all for the better.
So with Hitman only months away from release we were definitely going to give it a run for its money as soon as we knew of its presence at this years show. We were even spoilt for choice with the option to give a play of the game with a before unseen King of Chinatown level, and a presentation of the ninth level in the game; Streets of Hope.
Now the King of Chinatown level is an example of the classic Hitman methodology that gives the player six possible paths with which to counter your problem; a simple assassination job. Will you go in all guns blazing? Well you're playing the wrong game, how about knocking him down a manhole whilst he takes a leak, or you could subdue a drug dealer and lure your target to a darkened alley for some product, set up some explosives on his car, snipe him from a safe distance, or make it look like an accident and plant some deadly fugu into his lunch.
I don't think I need to tell you which path we took, nor should I have to suggest that it took more than one attempt, and this is all thanks to the brilliant and intuitive instinct feature that is a fantastic aid to the Hitman formula.
Now a lot of fans were very sad to see the disappearance of the live map, with the map you could plan out an enemy's path, locate points of interest and generally play the game to what the map would inform you. Now instinct can be used to find targets, track enemy paths and generally do the same thing, and so you begin to look less to the map and more at your surroundings, gosh Peter Molyneux would be proud!
Now this does not mean that in Hitman: Absolution everything is minutely scripted and activated in a linear fashion, it is still very much a waiting game, and we had to linger patiently as items such as poisonous fish were no longer guarded, for certain civilians to stop bringing unwanted attention to us, and even to wait for our target to make his move towards our deadly trap, despite the changes, this is still the Hitman that we all know and love, things change, and you've just got to roll with the punches!
With the ease in which we finished the mission I can only assume it is a mission very early on into the game, however what we saw in the presentation seemed far more challenging and with much higher stakes.
In Streets of Hope you are tasked with locating Lenny the limp and his gang of cronies the Hope Cougars in the dusty streets of a small American town, with five hits and one kidnapping Agent 47 has got more than his hands full in this job that beautifully demonstrated the new features in Absolution, and some old favourites.
The first target is taken down sharpish using the trusty garrotte, and in order to get away a distraction is pulled off by shooting at a car to set off its alarm, onto the next target a rather brutal take down is made with a screwdriver picked up off the floor of a mechanics workshop, however the death can be made to look like an accident thanks to some c4 and a car. Accidents are a major part of Hitman: Absolution and you'll find more opportunities to enact them throughout levels, however our next take down will use disguises and the new Blend in feature available thanks to the Instinct gauge.
Disguises have always been a large part of Hitman, and developers IO Interactive have brought them to the forefront of gaming thanks to the new Blend in system; anyone playing a stealth game knows that if you get to close to another person in the disguise anyone could see through it, yet games have always been rather easy going, now in Hitman: Absolution, wear a mechanics uniform and other mechanics are most definitely going to recognise that they have never seen you before, what blend in allows is you to make small distracting gestures to pull the focus of another characters eyes away from your face, it works beautifully and is without a doubt the best feature of Instinct.
After this we were able to see an example of another Instinct ability; Point Shooting, similar to Sam Fisher's mark and execute it allows you to target anyone in your field of view whilst your gauge is not empty, doing so will take down anyone marked with a silent pistol, allowing you to clear a whole room without anyone being the wiser.
After all the instinct features and age-old traditions from Hitman, there is one new feature that has wormed its way in to particularly feed the hunger of the Silent Assassins out there; using the same challenge system as seen in the Hitman: Absolution Sniper Challenge, players will be rewarded points for being successfully sneaky, the overall score in each level will be uploaded to global leaderboards just so that you can prove that you are the best assassin out there. Now whilst this may be seen as a particularly controversial addition to the game, you do begin to warm about it after being rewarded for your stealthing actions, or perhaps that's my gamerscore addiction shining through.
From this year we have definitely been able to see a bit more of what makes Hitman: Absolution stand out from the previous games, in what we played we still appear to have the same beloved character carrying out similar tasks to his past, full of accidents, cover stealth and disguises this is a stealth game that fans will not want to miss.
Hitman: Absolution is scheduled for a release November 20th 2012 on Playstation 3, Xbox 360 and Nintendo 3DS, after all the negative comments made about the game last year I was ready to throw in the towel as I have with other previously beloved titles, however with a little hands on time my mind has been made up, now come on Hitman: Absolution, come out already!.