Get Ready To Play As A More Brutal Agent 47 In Hitman: Absolution

Forget everything you know about Agent 47, the bald-headed, barcoded contract killer of IO Interactive's Hitman franchise. He does not don disguises, creep in the shadows or deliver death with surgical precision. He is not a professional. Well, at least he doesn't have to be.

You see, while hardcore fans have endured-enjoyed, even-the sometimes punishing nature of previous entries in the stealth-action series, the developer understands they've probably alienated some of their potential audience by forcing them to walk the frustrating trial-and-error treadmill. So for their next entry, Hitman: Absolution, they're crafting a killer who'll still please the patient player who enjoys snapping necks like peanut brittle, but will also satisfy those with much twitchier trigger fingers. Similar to Sam Fisher's action-oriented transformation in Splinter Cell: Conviction, this new anti-hero is as comfortable engaging in ammo clip-emptying firefights as he is skulking in the shadows.

During a recent demo, IO drove this point home like a hollow point to the head by completing the same level twice, but utilising vastly different play styles each time. The first go-round would've felt comfortably familiar to any fan who's ever reveled in seeing 47's fingers swell under a length of taught piano wire. Unfolding in an orphanage, where he's tracking a young girl named Victoria, 47 adopts a professional approach to deal with a group of masked thugs who are also after the girl, albeit with far more sinister intentions.

Sporting the black suit and white collar of a priest, the titular life-siphoner stealthily navigates the environment, avoiding conflict and detection whenever possible. Even when complete discretion isn't and option though, he still follows the assassins' code, silently choking-out targets and hiding their unconscious bodies in closets, freezers, and even a ball-pit located in the orphanage's play room. He also tosses a child's toy to distract a trio of goons, evades detection by crawling through a vent, and introduces an evil-doer to the pointy end of a syringe-Dexter-style-before donning his victim's clothes and carnival mask.

Before restarting the same level, lead producer Hakan Abrak states that 47 will now "go slightly more violent". In addition to being a skilled developer, it soon becomes clear Mr Abrak is also a master in the art of understatement. Still dressed like a man of the cloth, 47 approaches the men he'd previously distracted with the toy; rather than throwing the plaything to distract them and avoid their detection though, he uses it to directly draw their attention. Of course, this isn't a problem because he's now armed with a fire-axe, which he promptly plants into the first two enemies' chests before driving it through the skull of the third clueless mark. A security guard held hostage by the men informs 47 of a shotgun hidden in the orphanage's chapel; this NPC interaction-entirely avoided in the stealthier play-through-sets in motion a series of events that could make Jason Bourne blush.

His hunger for blunt force trauma to the head apparently not satiated, 47 grabs a large crucifix on his way to retrieve the hand-cannon; after effortlessly dropping two thugs with his signature pair of shiny pistols, he uses the sacred religious symbol to shatter a meatbag's skull. Bypassing the air duct he'd hidden in during the previous demo, he arms himself with the shotgun and begins indiscriminately filling foes full of buckshot. With the double-barrelled death-dealer's ammo depleted, he falls back on his dual handguns to finish the job; a few well-placed slugs later and a nearby gas-filled kitchen is serving up barbecued baddies for lunch. With all hell officially broken loose, he enters a final room-one he'd previously navigated quietly in disguise-teeming with well-armed scumbags. Triggering "Instinct" mode, which was strategically used in the first playthrough to peer through walls and predict AI patrol paths, the demoer activates Point Shooting-a mechanic much like Splinter Cell: Conviction's Mark and Execute mode-to clear the room in a stunning cinematic display of slo-mo bullets, blood and flying bodies.

Concluding the demo, Abrak explains that he wants players, whether playing stealthily, guns-blazing, or somewhere in between, to feel like an "unstoppable force of nature" when donning 47's trademark black suit. While my demo was eyes-only, it's so far looking like his team could potentially make good on that promise. I look forward to getting my hands on the game-and the fragile windpipes of its antagonists-later this year.

A full-time freelance journalist for over seven years, Matt Cabral covers the video game industry for a variety of mainstream and enthusiast outlets. Find him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter @gamegoat.


Comments

    The game has already failed at being a good Hitman game! :(

      Really? You've played it, have you?

        Of course I set myself up for that one, but hey what I consider a good Hitman game is likely different to you, it's always based on someones opinion, like I simply expressed mine.

        The fact of the matter is that if you tried to go into a Hitman game all guns blazing you normally don't get very far. I am aware of the article stating that you can choose what type of style of play you want to play as, but to me this means the level design focus is split to cater for both, so neither are likely to be as good as they can be.

        Everything nowdays has to be "accessible" to a larger audience because without it there is no way you could have multiple sequels to a game... oh wait...

    Max Payne, 47, who's next? Bomberman as a cyberpunk-ish super-soldier?... oh, wait :-P

    Does that mean if you get detected, you can blast your way out with no difficulty? If so = potential fail.

      This is pretty much how I always played Hitman.

      I don't really see the problem. The game is giving you options. If you want to be hard on yourself and play stealth only and discovery equals failure, then reload your game. I'm sure there are achievements built in to recognise a stealthy playthrough.

      This sounds really good to me. I love Hitman, but it's always been a bit clunky. If they've tightened it up this could be an awesome game indeed with great replayability.

      To be honest I played Hitman with a self-imposed difficulty level - once I was done with an initial playthrough, I would make sure I always got the Silent Assassin rating for each level. So if I ever set off an alarm, or had to shoot somebody who wasn't a target, I would reload the level.

      IO can do whatever they want to the game, but as long as the Silent Assassin rating still remains I'll be happy.

      Um, yes, as you've been able to in every Hitman game ever made. Hell, Bloodlines gave you a massive arsenal of upgradeable super weapons you could use to No Russian an entire winery full of people.

      Every game has given you the option to play as described in the above article. The only thing that reads new to me is the ripped off tag and kill mechanic from Splinter Cell.

    Wow, the first paragraph actually had me worried. I'm glad this is an option they're incorporating as a choice and not simply the way the game is.

    Much like in Deus Ex, I think there are a lot of people who will try the stealth/subterfuge trial and error gameplay, but want to be able to fall back on a more direct approach if things go wrong.

    Don't like that every goon is a faceless masked goon...

      It's one level with a hostage situation, what do you expect? Surely that's reaching new levels of pettiness.

      Likewise I'mm unhappy that the collar in his priest outfit is bone white instead of egg white.

      I mean WTF? Come on developers, sort out your colour wheels.

    alot of people don't like this game cos you have to use your "brain" to play it. (looking at cod players while saying it)

    Fuck, yes please! Been waiting for a new Hitman forever! Best franchise ever!

    Hope they don't change the dynamics of the game to much.. Love the whole stealthy stuff, and that you can successfully complete a mission doing it a number of ways, or just all guns blazing!

    In Blood Money, if you get detected, it's not as if the game ends. You just pull out the MP5 or silverballers (or find a nice gun), and fight your way out, all the while hoping that your armour is good enough.

    Here it just seems that it'll be an option from the start.

    Sounds like what's happened to Splinter Cell. Conviction was great and all, but it hardly felt like a stealth game, you could just play it like Gears of War if you wanted to.

    Almost sounds like this is Matt Cabral's first time in front of a Hitman game:
    "...introduces an evil-doer to the pointy end of a syringe-Dexter-style..." - that's a revelation.

    I can see the game being as awesome as the rest. It's not like you couldn't go blasting through a mission in previous games. Some you couldn't, some you could.

    The trial and error was the fun part though, it makes you think a lot more than other games. Achieving Silent Assassin in each mission was a complete bastard in some missions but extremely gratifying once you got there.

    Suffering from alliteration overload now. Might need to read me a Grug book to recover.

    I don't mind that there's the option to go in guns blazing. It's a choice that I'll ignore but it's nice to know it's there. I am however worried that so far the stealth seems to be of the Batman/Splinter Cell/Deus Ex neck snapping run and hide variety.

    What I loved about the Hitman games is that if you did a mission perfectly the target will have died by methods that at best appear completely accidental (poorly prepared fugu fish), at worst cannot be traced back to you at all (car bomb) and the only sign of your presence is one or two guards waking up in the janitors closet with a fuzzy memory and no pants.

    I like the sound of this. I really enjoyed SC Conviction because I felt like a stalking predator not some useless git just hiding in the shadows because confrontation was too much for him. So yeah, definite purchase for me.

    WHY

    IS EVERYTHING

    SO

    BLOOMY

      Because that's what real life looks like if you have a Gold account.

      So many noobs in life all because its free-to-play...

    This is nothing new, every Hitman game gave you the same option. levels could be run and gunned through with little difficulty, especially if you had some of the colelctably guns from your hideout with you.

    It just sounds like they've developed encounters with the specific options in mind. Which is a good thing. I've been a fan of this franchise since the first game and I'm looking froward to this entry with bated breath.

      Did it give you the same options in the way SC: Convictions did? Was it equally successful but with different rewards? Was it an equally polished experience? I ask in an honest way because I've never played a Hitman game but what I've seen shows that run and gun is a PITA because it's not the intended style of play the developers wanted.

    Got a bad feeling this game is gonna suck.

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