As business decisions go, making another title in a long-running and successful franchise is hardly a head-scratcher. Picture the boardroom: “We’ve sold more than 10 million Hitman games, let’s make another.” “Excellent — our work here is done. Bonuses all round.”
The real surprise is that it’s taken so long — it’s five years since Hitman: Blood Money, the fourth game in the series. But its follow-up, Hitman: Absolution, is finally ready to be shown, despite still being a year from its release date.
The big reveal took place this week at E3, the gaming industry’s biggest annual event, in Los Angeles. The action we saw is set in Chicago, but it won’t be limited to just Illinois — we’re promised that other global locations will be announced later. The level follows a manhunt that’s in progress for Agent 47.
The bad news (for those of you who haven’t played the games) is that’s you. Ah, the perils of being an internationally renowned and feared assassin.
Beginning by stealthily taking out each enemy, you’re then forced into action as you escape to the roof. Only when you get there, a police helicopter complete with searchlight and machine gunner lines you up in its sights (above). There are battles you can win and battles you can’t. This is the latter. After successfully evading the chopper, you can slip into the uniform of one of your deceased foes and casually stroll out of the building.
At least, that’s how we saw it play out. At every juncture you have the option of taking a stealthier route or opening up both barrels on your enemies.
One of the greatest elements of the Hitman franchise is how ingenious it forces you to be. Absolution is no different — you kill enemies with whatever you can lay your hands on, whether it’s an AK-47 (easy — just pull the trigger) or crushing their throats with the flex of a nearby lamp (tougher, and far more imaginative). Simply put, if you can pick it up, the chances are that you can improvise a way to end someone’s life with it.
Hitman: Absolution will be released on PC, PS3 and Xbox 360 early next year