Picking up the new Hitman: Absolution title down at E3 is an experience all in its own. The very first thing that will take you in will be the fantastic musical score that will fill your ears with a depressing melody that sets the mood for the lone assassin. The opening will set up your expectations with flashes of characters and names, giving you at least a small idea of who your friends and enemies might be.
The demo drops you off in the middle of dark, damp, and cloudy Chinatown with a quick tutorial on what your weapons are, giving you a choice to pick your preferred method of assassination. You’ll acquire your target, a typical loud-mouthed villain who’s got enough power to surround himself by cops and bark orders at them. He’s not hard to find, standing on a pagoda in the middle of a busy marketplace and practically begging to be taken out.
The game gives you several options, most of which that aren’t even obvious, when it comes to taking out the target. I was surprised by the amount of exploring that was required for such a small area. Looking around, you’ll have to think outside the box. Options and ideas will have to come to mind in order to outmaneuver the police who are standing around and not scare the locals into a screaming stampede. You can be either very direct and shoot the guy right in front of everyone, which will have you going out in a blaze of glory like an old western shootout, or find a way to kill the man and get out of dodge to avoid unnecessary bloodshed.
Stealthier options range from planting a car bomb and finding a way to lure the target to his expensive ride in order to blow him up into tiny pieces to simply poisoning the food at the target’s favorite merchant cart. The objective is to kill your target, by any means necessary, and leave the area alive, so there are plenty of thing to do while setting up your strategy. While the killing part isn’t very hard, the getting out undetected, or at the very least while still breathing, seemed to take a lot more work.
Admittedly, I failed the mission quite a few times while trying to find the ‘best’ way to take out the target. The ‘walk up and shoot target in head’ strategy didn’t work out so well in front of all the cops and planting the car bomb wasn’t very easy either. The points where you get a chance to creatively take out your objective seemed to have an obstacle in the way in one form or another. In the case of the car bomb, there was a lone officer on duty guarding the parking space. Poor guy didn’t stand a chance.
Of course, discovery of the body lead to more police who began an investigation as they surrounded the car, just as the target runs to check to see why his alarm was going off. The explosion wasn’t meant for the police, but oh well. This in turn led to a fantastic shootout between the main character and members of S.W.A.T, but I won’t spoil who won that fight.
Graphically, even when playing on the PlayStation 3, the game looked a bit dated in its current stage. Hopefully, this will be cleaned up before launch. The gameplay was also a bit sluggish, but setting up your traps is a fun puzzle that I believe many people will enjoy. Even if you’re not much into the stealthy aspects of the game, there is still plenty of running and gunning allowed for more direct players.