Hitman: Absolution PS3 gameplay preview and screens
It’s taken a while but I’m starting to come round to Hitman: Absolution’s Arkham Asylum/Splinter Cell reboot. Just don’t call it that to IO because gameplay director Christian Elverdam won’t have any of it. “No. It’s still the same universe, the same character, it’s picking up after Blood Money”. He might reject the word ‘reboot’ but, having seen all new PS3 gameplay previewed, there’s no escaping that this is all new Hitman. (Check out this video interview with Hitman: Absolution’s gameplay director Christian Elverdam. We’ve also got a load of Hitman: Absolution screens).
There’s no sign yet of the game’s trademark open areas that unfolded like fine clockwork, revealing an intricate interplay of components to tinker with. Things like rigging gas hobs to explode, swapping blanks for real bullets in a prop gun, drugging a pair of girl’s knickers… (looong story, pervy CIA agent, witness protection scheme. You had to be there).
Director Tore Blystad is adamant that all this “[is] coming in due time” but for now Agent 47’s adventures have revealed a framework of far more familiar mechanics. Systems like cover-based stealth, an ‘Instinct’ visual system that’s basically Batman’s detective mode and, with this new showing, things like bullet time targeting and QTE combat. Then there are the checkpoints and the linear ‘kill everyone in that direction’ gameplay that will have most 47 fans floating their red ties out to sea on tiny burning Viking boats.
I’m still hanging on to see ‘old Hitman’ (encouraged by Blystad’s reply when I ask about the game’s trademark sand box areas: “We have a lot to show off, it’s a very large and complex game. We have to take one step at a time.”) but much of what I saw was still notable. Once you accept this as a do over. It’s Hitman 2.0, with the old bones of the series buried under layers of trendy new mechanics. That said it’s impressively dark in tone, slick in action and looks gorgeous. The demo was on PS3 and, despite apologies for its early stages, is easily already one of the best looking things on PlayStation.
The level shown was a playable version of the VGA trailer where Agent 47 infiltrates an Orphanage to track down a girl called Victoria. The dying wish of his former ICA agency handler Diana. A short trailer reveals that she somehow went rogue, becoming targeted for assassination by the ICA. A mission ultimately carried out by 47. According to Elverdam, “The reason for why that happens is something you’ll have to find out when you play the game.”
The level sees Hitman starting in an elevator shaft as gunmen shoot down a nun. Her end is a sobbing, gurgly act of violence setting a grim tone early on. Later exploration reveals dead nuns everywhere: slumped in corners, blood smearing the walls. It’s a disturbing and effective piece of environmental story telling, making it clear the enemy are monsters. Or really hate nuns.
The bad guys all work for a crude, Southern mercenary called Wade, who in turn is the pocket of an American businessman called Blake Dexter. For some reason he’s also after Victoria, creating a handy, Stetson topped, boot lace tie wearing enemy.
From the first corridor it’s clear how important the new cover system is. There are upturned beds, trollies, cabinets and all manner of conveniently unobtrusive surfaces to cling to.
The first kill reveals a nice integration of the user interface, with takedown options highlighted by buttons hanging over the shoulders of anyone you can grab (the cover button also floats over surfaces you can move between, aiding stealthy navigation).
This is the first of two play throughs we saw. In this case the ‘professional’ one, meaning the first victim is choked to the floor with 47 “Shhh, Shhh-ing” comfortingly into his ear. The triangle button option to snap his neck is left alone for now.