Thanks to the recent Steam Summer Sale I picked up a copy of Hitman: Blood Money which I never got around to playing back when it came out in, holy crap, 2006. I’d played the original Hitman: Codename 47 when it came out in 2000 along with its sequel Hitman: Silent Assassin in 2002. I bought Hitman: Contracts when that came out in 2004, but never finished it because I was disappointed that it largely consisted of remakes of levels from the original game presented as flashbacks as Agent 47 lay near death in a motel room. Well, I can’t say that I never finished it because I reinstalled it just a week or so ago so I could finish it before playing Blood Money, which I am just about to start.
The reason for all of this renewed interest in the Hitman series is because they’re finally producing a proper sequel that’s due this fall and it looks amazing. This was driven home by playing Contracts again after so much time and realizing just how limited it was in terms of what you could do. I haven’t played BM yet so I don’t know if it’s any better, but in Contracts Agent 47 can’t do basic things like jump or climb anything that isn’t a ladder. Here’s a small snippet of game play from Contracts to give you an idea:
Considering the age of the game it doesn’t look too bad and it even had a physics engine that allowed curtains to billow in the wind and victims to ragdoll realistically when shot or dragged. The physics tended to be a bit touchy at times such that opening the door to a room would make the curtains act like a gale force wind had blown in and every now and then when you shot someone they’d bounce off the wall at high speed and be flung halfway across the level, but that was half the fun. Still, environments were pretty basic and the cut scenes where grainy as hell.
Now compare that to the E3 game play footage from Absolution:
It looks like Hitman: Absolution is joining the ranks of ultra-cinematic titles along with the Uncharted series, The Last of Us, and the last couple of Batman games. Not only can he jump, but he can scale ledges and he’s got a nifty new “intuition” ability similar to Batman’s “detective vision.” The shear amount of dialog that’s reactive to the context of where Agent 47 is in that scene is also damned impressive. It’s also pretty cool that he can pick up random items and use them as weapons too. When he first enters the library he doesn’t have any weapons at all. As he goes along he fashions a garrote out of an old power cord laying around and a nearby bit of art becomes a handy bludgeon at one point. And the physics engine! Holy shit!
With as much as I enjoyed the previous games despite their limitations it pretty much goes without saying that I’m eagerly looking forward to this new iteration. My only point of concern is that they didn’t hire the voice actors who played Agent 47 and his handler Diana in the previous games. Still, if it lives up to the promise shown in this demo then I think I can live with that omission.