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Hitman Ab 2

Hitman Absolution preview: a million ways to die

Steven Norris: grumpy curmudgeon
Steven Norris is a born writer, living in Tamboerskloof, Cape Town and educated in the ways of graphic design but destined to follow in the footsteps of... More

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A view to kill

Hitman Absolution isn’t a fantastic looking game on first glance. It’s blurry, graphics seem last-gen and controls are clunky. But after the initial shock wears off and Hitman opens the dragon gates into China Town, a warm and fuzzy feeling kicks in. Thousands of pedestrians block the way in what must be the most crowded city scene we’ve ever scoped out. The ground is thick with interlopers and the target is sipping a coffee. We know what must be done.

This is the fifth Hitman title and it’s due 20 November 2012 for Xbox, PS3, PC and OnLive. It could be one of the last, great games of this generation. A sandbox game, trapped inside a very confined environment. Because of this tightly honed gameplay, Hitman excels.

SquareEnix reps wouldn’t let us film or take a picture of the gameplay. Bastards.

It’s always been about choice, a branching narrative of murder left to the whim of the player. Murders never been easier than in Hitman Absolution though. Clicking the right trigger activates the “intuition mode”, time slows down and targets are highlighted in red. Other threats are in yellow. It’s a little too easy and those looking for a challenge should avoid this obvious temptation. We couldn’t. Blame casual gaming.

But we digress. The doors swings open, the crowd crowds and the target ambles about, walking into seemingly dangerous situations without a care. Sitting in the open, peeing under an unstable chain holding crates, eating poisoned food. It’s the video-game equivalent of jackass. The target almost dares Hitman, welcoming the sweet digital murder we’re happy to provide.

Easy decisions for a barcoded assassin to make

We ended his life precious in one of four ways. Playing through each scenario contained inside the gamings smallest sandbox enviroment is a rare treat. First, we shot him through the skull at point-blank range. We were quickly killed. It also had something to do with us struggling with the controls, which are as fiddly as ever, despite a layer of sheen that only consoles can provide.

Next, his sushi was poisoned. This turned out to be the least incriminating method.

Thirdly, and from a distance we popped a cap in a loose set of chains holding a lug of crates above our target. The cops instantly spotted us, ending our time in China Town.

Finally, we made our way up into a drug-dealers loft, killed his lackey and snapped the neck of the drug kingpin. On the table predicability lay a sniper rifle. With one clean shot from the second story window, the target was down. We hid in a crate, the police were evaded and China Town was exited. As we stopped playing, our hands were coated in sweat. This is how we game, there is nothing better, or sweeter.


  • Nosgoth1979

    I found Detective Mode in Arkham City
    pretty annoying, so I hope there’s a way to turn Instinct off, and that it isn’t
    necessary (or at least less intrusive). That’s the biggest thing keeping me
    from breaking my game-buying rule and picking it up right away. I actually got
    my game-buying rule from one of my coworkers at DISH after being seriously
    disappointed by Deus Ex: Human Revolution. Now I don’t buy a game—any
    game—without first thoroughly being able to play-test it. So I rent all my
    games through Blockbuster @Home first, and if it’s short (without replay
    value), or I don’t like it, I don’t buy it at all. It’s saved me a sizeable
    amount of money just in the past six months or so. I’ll put Hitman: Absolution
    in my Blockbuster @Home queue now so I’ll get to play it soon enough,
    especially since I still need to finish Borderlands 2, then play Dishonored and
    Assassin’s Creed 3 (that’s a lot of games about assassins, isn’t it?).