Talking And Stalking – Hitman: Absolution

This is some atmospheric stuff. Lightning.

When I witnessed a playthrough of Hitman: Absolution I expressed my concern that there was more murder than assassination and that the level shown looked rather linear. I was fully aware that what was on display may not be representative of the actual hits in the game, showing barcoded-billiard-bonce on the run rather than in his more usual mode of calmly calculated cash-for-cadaver commerce. Here then is another view of the same level, with commentary from game director Tore Blystad and gameplay director Christian Elverdam, as a counterpoint to some of my queries and doubts.

You be the judge of how convincing it is and feel free to join me in waiting for footage of an actual hit.

The steam-powered mechanical contraption that I feed my words through tells me that I’ve already reached my alliteration quotient for the day. A good start.


  1. Lambchops says:

    Adam’s awesome alliteration astounds absolutely all.

    • jezcentral says:

      Don’t be such an ass-onance. :)

    • HexagonalBolts says:

      That’s still alliteration not assonance. Hurrah, a use for my literature degree!

    • hjd_uk says:

      I so imagined that last sentance in a Dr Zoidberg voice.

    • jezcentral says:

      @HB, my own English Lit degree says “Adam’s awesome alliteration astounds absolutely all” uses assonance. You might argue that there is some “s” consonance, but that’s not alliteration.

      EDIT: Edited for pedantry. :)

    • IC says:


      I think you’ll find “s” consonance is better described as sibilance


    • jezcentral says:

      Ooooh, true! (Whilst pointing out that this doesn’t actually contradict what I said, as sibilance is a subset of consonance) I commend your knowledge of the ugly mechanics of our beautiful language! :)

    • jezcentral says:

      Damn. It turns out HB was right. You CAN have alliteration with vowels. Me wrong, him right.

  2. xavdeman says:

    Hitman: Absolution? What happened to Hitman: Subtitle? I was really looking forward to that game!

  3. gropingmantis says:

    Deus Ex: Hitman Absolution?

    • D says:

      Did I miss all the branching dialogue choices and side missions in the video or something?

  4. Tony M says:

    That multiplex joke earlier and now “cash-for-cadaver”. You’re on fire today Adam.

  5. kulik says:

    Instinct, huh? Seems more like wall hack to me, wasn’t a part of the game to judge where the guards are, where they are heading and how to dispatch them? Im curious how more they will water down the gameplay.

    • max pain says:

      Yes, instinct used to be player skill (before consolification of everything) :/

    • Omega Xi says:

      Didn’t the map serve more or less the same function in Blood Money? I mean you could see exactly where everyone was on the map down to what direction they were facing. Instinct strikes me as essentially the same mechanic but more convenient (and with a few bonuses such as pointing out ledges and whatnot). Besides if you think it makes the game too easy for you, you can always just not use it.

    • The Colonel says:

      Must’ve missed that map thing. Was it the case on all difficulty levels?

    • sassy says:

      If instinct isn’t forced then I really don’t care. I won’t be using it, just like I didn’t use the map in blood money.

      However if it is a forced feature then the game will be instantly downgraded from a must buy to an under $10 sale. No exception for me since the feature will ruin much of the experience for me.

    • iucounu says:

      No, on harder difficulties (maybe just the hardest one?) there were no people marked on the map at all – you had to rely on line of sight. I usually played it on Normal, and didn’t feel being able to essentially track people through walls was a problem. In this version they seem to have decided to just bring that information out of a map and into the environment; but they’ve also added tracks so you can see where people are going, which is an extra bit of help. Not sure how I feel about that, though it does seem to be a limited resource, with a cooldown.

    • immerc says:

      The video said that Instinct was something you didn’t get to use much, if at all, on the harder difficulty levels.

      To me, it makes sense. It allows them to make the enemy AI more complex and less predictable (in other words, more realistic), and make the maps more complex, while still making it possible for the player to succeed on the first pass at low difficulty levels. At higher difficulty levels, you have to do the work yourself.

    • gwathdring says:

      I think it could be a great feature, from what I’ve seen (which is, of course, little). If you want the ultimate experience they implied it will be limited on the highest difficulty levels and you can always discipline yourself not to use it.

      Rather, I think it’s a significant improvement over the map in Blood Money (in Normal difficulty at least), for a couple of reasons. Firstly, the map made things easier in some ways by allowing you to track the AI patterns perfectly from a safe corner and then proceed through the level armed with telepathic foresight of all individuals on all floors of the level that had regular beats. On the other hand, unless you stared at the map long enough you had no idea where a particular guard was going. In short, the magic map was both ridiculous in what it allowed the player to see and relatively impractical to use. This system allows players to use the same magical person-sensing abilities in a way more coherently attached to gameplay both in how useful it is and how much more thematic sense it makes–it’s certainly not realistic by any stretch of the imagination but it makes more sense to know the position and trajectory of nearby enemies than to know where everyone in the entire level is at all times. And finally, as a limited resource that is also tied to other abilities such as the disguise bonuses it starts to form what I expect to be a much more coherent, enjoyable, and fluid “panic button” system for more casual fans of the series.

      At the same time, what made Hitman: Blood Money a unique experience to me was that it was essentially a puzzle game. It wasn’t about getting from point A to point B and accomplishing a goal like a slick assassin out of a movie. It was about working through razor-sharp level design following the arbitrary rules of the Hitman universe. It is a game that, to me, fits the traits other people ascribe to so-called immersive sims more than Bioshock and Deadly Shadows. Not because it was more immersive (it wasn’t) or had better AI (it sure as hell didn’t), but because I became intensely enveloped in the rules of what was essentially a sandbox simulation. I got to mess around and see what happened if I did X, Y, or Z. And when I got frustrated I could whip out the otherwise useless shotgun until I inevitably died and then restart the level. It’s the kind of gameplay that develops the most incredible and ludicrous gameplay stories and experiences more because of the holes and idiosyncrasies in the simulation than the intentionally honed portions.

      This game might provide me the the stealth game experience I haven’t been able to find in Splinter Cell games, in which case I’d still be happy. I don’t need it to be Blood Money and I’m not invested in the “dishonoring the name of franchise X” shtick. But we’ve seen little enough of the game that I might still be getting an updated Blood Money, or at least a hybrid of Blood Money and more traditional stealth games. I can really see these new features going either way, enhancing the fluidity of the sandbox or simply abandoning the Blood Money sandbox to try to steal Sam Fisher’s shovel and buckets. As long as a good game comes out of it, I’m intrigued.

  6. Augmentation says:

    I’m hoping that this is just the introductory mission. The long reveal on the face of Agent 47 sort of suggests that it is. As far as opening missions go it would be a pretty intense (albeit slightly hard) opening.

    • sassy says:

      Hmm it seems unlikely to be the opening level to me, while many things point towards that we are lacking one important thing … bloody annoying tutorial messages everywhere. I thought the first level of Blood Money would have been pretty good if they had removed the ‘tutorial’ features of it.

  7. jezcentral says:

    Yes, you used to use the omniscient map, and memorise it.

    I’m actually starting to worry about where the Hitman series is heading. Blood Money was one of my favourite games ever, but I’m now worried that games are now so complicated, that developing for some kinds of games are now impossible within the expected budget.

    “A New Life” was a joy of a level, despite being small, but do we need better middleware to help devs concentrate more on what they should be coding (e.g. gameplay and AI), and less on the frippery of graphics, etc? I’d hate to think how many people were needed to build the library in the video.

    EDIT: Damn, reply fail.

    • BoZo says:

      Yes Blood Money was crazy good with all the levels being very distinctive and atmospheric. Easily the best Hitman.

    • SiHy_ says:

      Hitman used to be a sort of action-puzzle game. You could run in and shoot everyone killing all winesses or you could spend time replaying a level until you figured out a way through peoples patrol paths. I had some levels down to a fine art on the original and Blood Money. Hopefully it won’t go the way of Splinter Cell and become all about the action.

    • jezcentral says:

      Exactly, SiHy_. You had your pure stealth games like Splinter Cell and Thief, crouching in the shadows, and then you had a bald man with a bar-code in a bright yellow Big Bird suit with stockings, suspenders and high heels, holding a ticking birthday cake, hanging around suspiciously (but too suspiciously) close to a theme park boss at a party where half the attendees haven’t been seen since announcing they were going to the toilet.

      I want social stealth. A Blood Money Hitman would have nicked the uniform from the first policeman he took out, and then walked straight out of the library.

  8. Unaco says:

    Hitman hasn’t been the same since they got rid of the Bullet Time.

  9. BoZo says:

    Also, 47 is now a wizard.

  10. Jikid says:

    The fact that they didn’t do an alternative run of the level themselves renders this video a bit pointless.

    • sneetch says:

      I was just thinking that I’ve seen this one before… I don’t think this is really “another view of the same level” just different talky bits over the same one.

    • Jikid says:

      Seems so, but I still think they should start showing something more instead of just promising it. :)

  11. SiHy_ says:

    Glad to see he’s still got his super-special-power of undressing a corpse, cleaning the blood off the clothes, mending the bullet-holes, taking off his suit and dressing in the new costume all within the span of a few seconds. I hope he still folds his suit nice and tidily.

  12. skyturnedred says:

    So, covering your face with your hand drains your ‘instinct’ power? That has to be one of the dumbest game mechanic ever. As if they really want to break any immersion to remind you that you’re playing a game.

    • sneetch says:

      I thought it was his migraine level dropping, everyone knows that looking constipated while rubbing your temple eases migraines.

    • immerc says:

      What’s the alternative? That you can walk around continuously covering your face with your hand so you don’t arouse suspicion? Or that you don’t have the option to cover your face at all and get caught if you try to walk by someone who might get suspicious?

      In this case, the “instinct power” meter could be seen as “amount of time you can act in a suspicious way around other people before they start getting curious”.

  13. Moni says:

    Hahah, destructible pigeons. Take that, you feathery bastards!

  14. ryryryan says:

    Still trying to figure out a way to put this game in a positive light… hmm.

    It’s like Deus Ex! But with no dialog choices, no side missions… nah that sounds rubbish.
    It’s like Batman! But without the awesome gadgets or gliding round the city… nope not good.
    It’s made by the same people as the other Hitman games! And they’ve done fantastic games other than Hitman right? RIGHT?


    Hitman Contracts and Blood Money are some of my favourite games ever made. 100%ed both of them and even enjoyed 2 very much. But I’m worried about this game.

  15. Radiant says:

    With the commentary it actually seems like it will be an interesting game.
    At least this way we know exactly who to send our hate mail to if it turns out to be splinter ex hitman: modern slaphead.

  16. immerc says:

    One thing they seem to have overlooked:

    Chicago isn’t that white.

    White alone – 949,671 (33.3%)
    Black alone – 935,960 (32.8%)
    Hispanic – 779,218 (27.3%)
    Asian alone – 148,619 (5.2%)

  17. Cirno says:

    Too much talking about “improvised weapons” for a hitman game. I wish they told us more about social stealth and “accidents”. All I see here is them showing us totally unsuspicious guy in a wet police uniform that stinks of weed covering his face like he’s hiding from some paparazi. I mean cant he at least look like he’s checking his belt thus obscuring his face with a hat, or look the other way like he’s reading some poster on a wall? Nah, just press iStealth button and use “improvised weapons” to beat the game, right.

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