Although I didn’t get my own gritty hands on it, Square Enix had a private part of their booth sectioned off at E3 where folks could take in the magic of the newest Hitman game. After watching the impressive demo, I can safely say that those who’ve been anxiously awaiting Agent 47’s latest tale will not be disappointed.
The demo began with 47 in the middle of a small town. The ultimate objective was to take out the leader of a local old-school street gang, who looked like they’d been ripped right out of the 50s. There were five guys. Only one was the necessary hit, but the others would reap bonus XP to be used to level up certain abilities, actions and unlock other goodies.
The demo made use of the new instinct mode, a vision mode not unlike Detective Mode from the Batman: Arkham games. Everything around you turns a solid color, civilians are in yellow, targets are in red, and potential set pieces for hits are highlighted as well. You’re given a small open world in order to complete what you need to, while obviously using stealth, disguises and other helpful distractions to get your job done without being found out.
This particular demo also demonstrated something very cool. We were told before they began that the demo wasn’t shortened to keep within the 20 minutes, but they had experts play through it to finish it as quick as possible to get the five hits done in such a short amount of time. What this shows is the amount of fluidity to the levels once one masters the aspects of a given environment. Admittedly while watching the demo, it probably would have taken me significantly longer to accomplish what I was supposed to. And it would have been much messier as well.
But not this demo. The professional playing it managed to not only make all the hits look like accidents, he avoided being detected at all throughout the entire level. Only once was he detected by a cop, but he expertly dispatched him, effectively containing any possible word of the hitman’s existence.
Another thing that really impressed me was the amount of spontaneity to the demo. Not only did characters actually react to if, say, a gas station exploded appropriately, but there were subtle differences like changes in music. During that same explosion, each time a secondary blast went off, the music followed its lead and blasted in return. It all adds to the immersion to the game.
I’ve never been terribly big on the Hitman franchise. Sure it’s fun, but it always seemed to be missing a level of freedom. Hitman: Absolution seems to have fixed that, but we won’t know for certain until the game is released later this year.