Hitman Absolution: Agent 47 has gone rogue - and we like it!

Agent 47 has gone rogue - and we like it!

Square-Enix's E3 presentation opened with the promise that this would be the most ambitious Hitman game to date. Square-Enix said that Hitman was one of their most valuable properties and that there was a reason they didn't just keep bringing games out year on year; they wanted to make sure that every Hitman game lives up to the value they believe Agent 47 has.

Once again, Hitman Absolution is all about the many ways to take out your targets, with particular emphasis on improvisation, using the tools and environment around you and making deaths look like accidents to avoid being made. Of course, they also pointed out that you can play the game as an all-out, guns-blazing killing machine, but they hoped the new trailer and gameplay would point out just how many ways there are to kill. They also informed us that disguise still plays a major part in the game, with over 300 disguises in Hitman: Absolution to use to blend in and hide in plain sight.

King of Chinatown level for Hitman Absolution shown at E3

The first level we were shown was named "King of Chinatown", which begins with Agent 47 getting his mission brief from his informant Bennie. The target is a local mobster, but there's also a drug dealer of no small importance in this level.

This - like all the other levels, has a real open-world feel to it - rich, expansive and with lots of dynamic light sources. It also had over 500 individual crowd members filling up the (market)place - and this, we were told, was one of the smaller crowd scenes.

We saw our first glimpse of 47's "Instinct" mode which highlights your target in red. But finding your target is only the first step - getting to him to take him out is a lot trickier, especially here where he's in plain sight and surrounded by many corrupt police officers, conveniently on his payroll. So it's up to you to scope the place out, following what Bennie's told you. So we find the drug dealer's apartment, and various other handy hiding places. Then we find the drug dealer, deep in conversation with the King before being sent off to make some calls.

What followed was a slick sequence of following and killing the drug dealer, hiding the body and disguising yourself as him and getting into his apartment - and more importantly, in a position to locate the King's prized sports car. When you're interrupted by a police officer, another death-disguise-hide body is required, leaving you in the right position to drop a small explosive, set off the car alarm and when the king goes to shut it off?well, you shut him off, permanently! But taking out the target isn't the end of the level - getting out is just as important.

Hitman Absolution - streets of Hope previewed at E3

We were shown part of a second level called "Streets of Hope", taking place about half-way through the game and set in a 50's-style American small-town. This level is supposed to be around 1-2 hours worth of gameplay, so we only got a peek, but what a peek - with 5 targets to kill and one to kidnap and question in Agent 47's mission to find his girl. This level really showcased the eavesdropping, disguising, body-hiding and imaginative-ways-to-kill that are 47's tactical trademarks, as well as showing that 47 has little worry for collateral damage when it comes to people getting in his way.

The scene opens with Agent 47 driving along to the sound of a twangy guitar playing Dirty Old Town. The colours have a slightly faded look about them and together with the lighting, it gives the game a great atmosphere. He goes into a garage, which presents interesting opportunities - gas leaks, for example, could work to your advantage. Setting up an explosion creates a lot of attention, so the set-up is done and Agent 47 has already walked calmly away when it blows.

With enough instinct power you can use the 'blend in' feature to move past certain characters in the game. Or use your instinct to lock onto several targets in the 'sharp shooting feature' then watch as you take out a group one by one. Overcome another character and you can take on their guise. When Agent 47 becomes the cop, you know things are going to get interesting!

The world of Hitman is a world of accidents waiting to happen, and once the demo was over we've witnessed strangulations, explosions, car squishings and kidnappings. You can turn off the clues to these to make your missions more difficult if you choose. Check Agent 47's notebook for your objectives to keep on track in the game.

It's all in a day's work...

Hitman Absolution is out on November 20th for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC, with the Professional Edition also available.
SKU: Features-170511