Gamer Escape was invited to see a pre-alpha build demo of Hitman: Absolution today at E3 – and after regaining our composure all we can say is “wow!” Well – maybe we can say a bit more. Agent 47 is of course back for this fifth installment in the Hitman series, set for release in 2012.
The demo starts inside an abandoned Chicago library, where Agent 47 is being hunted by what looks to be the entire Chicago Police Department. Utilizing a stealth approach, Agent 47 (being played by one of the representatives from IO Interactive) was able to systematically crouch, crawl and silently kill members of the CPD. Items that can be used have an aura about them, and they can be used to varying effects – an electrical cord and police baton are used to silently choke an opponent, and a bust (of Shakespeare?) and bong (yes a bong) to bash a head of another. The stealth in the library was broken by sneaking up behind a CPD officer and using him as a human shield, requiring the player to walk slowly backwards while shielding himself from the rest of the CPD’s targets. Once your presence is revealed, the ensuing fire fight is nothing short of epic, with Agent 47 running through a rooftop filled with pigeon coops while being fired upon by a helicopter. While Agent 47 is able to dodge bullets, the pigeons are not so lucky, and feathers fill the air while Agent 47 makes a mad dash into the next building.
Having subdued another of the CPD’s finest, Agent 47 is able to equip the CPD uniform as a costume and “hide in plain sight.” The problem? The building Agent 47 finds himself in is occupied by a group of hippies tending to a small forest of marijuana – so they appear to not be fans of the CPD. The stealth play again comes into play – that us until the real CPD enter only to find what appears to be one of their own already inside. Unable to explain his presence, Agent 47 instead picks up a nearby bong and dispatches the CPD investigators, and proceeds down to ground level – still in disguise. The lobby is swarming with CPD – and CPD accessories – including guns and weapons of all shapes and sizes… and donuts. Taking the donut, Agent 47 maintains cover and walks out of the building. Presumably, taking the weapons would not have ended quite so easily.
The gameplay demo lasted almost 20 minutes – and the room was absolutely silent (save for a few laughs – such as when the hippies try to flush whole plants down the toilet) the entire time. This pre-alpha build looked better than most released games. If we had to nitpick, some of the graphics showing gun shot impact might have looked a bit off, or maybe some of the synching between lips and voiceovers, but those are extreme nitpicks for a game that is being shown at this early stage.
The play style appeared to be a cross between Assassin’s Creed, the new Tomb Raider and Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune. While it is far too early to tell how the rest of the game will play, the focus seemed to be on choices in game play. Another new game play feature is called “Instinct,” which allows Agent 47 to see how enemies will move, or visualize weapons or shortcuts. The use of “Instinct” will be earned by completing classic Hitman moves.
Overall the demo featured incredible graphics, engulfing sound, and a game play that, while requiring a lot of complex maneuvers and button mashing, ended up looking like a polished 20 minute movie. We immediately placed the game on our wishlist, and will certainly follow its development closely in the months to come.