Hitman Absolution Preview
The mission is simple: rescue a young girl from an orphanage that’s been overrun by violent, masked mercenaries. But when a representative from IO Interactive plays through this level twice in order to demonstrate the breadth of strategy that Hitman: Absolution will offer, the pair of approaches we see couldn’t be more distinct.
The first time around, Agent 47 creeps and skulks through the orphanage’s blood-stained halls, sticking to cover, crawling through air vents, and taking care to avoid being spotted by making timely dashes from point to point. Eventually, 47 quietly subdues a guard and hides the body in a laundry bin, stealing his outfit in order to walk among the rest of the hired killers undetected.
The second play through, however, is carnage. Where before guards were overcome with sleeper holds, now necks are snapped and bones are broken in savage takedowns. The stealthy 47 improvised his way from room to room, throwing toys to distract his foes, and borrowing syringe-based sedatives found in the medical wing. His violent alter ego is equally happy to make use of items left lying around, but it’s the fire axe he seems to prefer.
Previous titles saw 47 fumble up close — at least when he wasn’t attacking from behind – but melee combat in Absolution does a better job of preserving its star’s proficiency. There’s a hint of QTE about the takedowns, though, with split-second slowdown telegraphing when it’s time for you to land the next blow.
Slowdown also features in a new gunplay mechanic called ‘point shooting’, which explosively ends this second attempt at the level. Functioning like Splinter Cell’s mark-and-execute manoeuvre crossed with Red Dead Redemption star John Marston’s Dead Eye, it sees 47 burst through a door before time slows, enabling our representative to paint enemy targets. When time returns to normal, we see the mercenaries torn apart in a series of cinematic close-ups.