Toby goes hands-on with Hitman, and finds a world split between stealth and action.
By Toby McCasker on October 8, 2012 at 1:55 pm
So what’s it like to be a grim-hearted killing machine for hire? The premise of IO Interactive’s Hitman games is a complex and sinister answer to this fantasy, but there’s one obvious suggestion at hand: You’d probably need to be quiet about it.
Up until now, the emphasis has been very assuredly on stealth. Stealth, as you might’ve noticed, is not a gameplay mechanic that’s anywhere near as in fashion as it was during the formative years of Sam Fisher and PSX-era Solid Snake. IO are cluey guys. They know this. They also know that no one would give a crap about Hitman if it weren’t for an impressive legion of bedroom bodybaggers attuned to its particular brand of mark-the-target-and-make-it-happen.
Absolution’s foreword of latex bullet-nuns set a bad precedent. Tastelessness aside, the game is nothing at like a Zack Snyder film. The option to go full auto, however, is now a big deal. Rather than the inferior contingency plan of previous games, it’s so fleshed out here that the game is seemingly split into two distinct halves at times: One for rogues, one for warriors. Quite often it even begs the former to dip into the latter’s world, and vice-versa.
If you’re discovered, for instance, people don’t just start shooting. That’d be insane. Instead, they’ll hold their gun on you and slowly approach, demanding you take it easy. Agent 47 now has the option to calmly raise his hands – until they get close enough. One swift martial arts move later and he’s got them as a human shield, and it’s on.
Spend a buttload of your Instinct Mode and you can even pre-mark as many targets as your remaining Instinct allows. When you’re satisfied, just hit “Hell Yeah” and Agenty 47 will gun them all down in whatever fashion you designed.
Contracts, too, are bound to result in much YouTube hilarity (which already exists in an ad-libbed form – you crazy fans, you made this happen). Kit out your Agent 47, and take him through a level. You pick up to three people – and they can be anyone, anyone at all – in that level, and kill them. The game will automatically take stock of variables like what weapon you used and what suit you were wearing, and add it to the Contract’s requirements for completion. Bam, share that Contract and see if anyone else can mix it up with your homicidal genius.
None of this comes at the price of subtlety, and you’ll still lose mondo points for shooting up the place. That’s the great news. Instinct Mode also works hard here, highlighting everyone around you and, should you be in disguise, will increase the effectiveness of said disguise. This is important, because IO have done the best thing they could’ve done and really ironed out those niggly details that’ve made previous Hitman games a little bit odd (hello, weird AI).
Agent 47 is a strange man. Look at him. Even dressed in a dead cop’s uniform, he still looks like a guy who’s here to kill someone. Further to that, other cops just won’t buy it upon closer inspection. They know who they work with, and will see through your clothed ruse in a matter of seconds if you get too close. Instinct Mode will make Agent 47 shadow his face with his cap or some other such mannerism in this context, which is frequently just enough to chill everyone out – especially the skeptical.