With its jump to the new console generation, Io Interactive is bringing gamers a Hitman game that is bigger, better, and deadlier in every way. Feeling like a mix between Hitman: Blood Money and Hitman: Absolution, the upcoming Agent 47 adventure (simply titled Hitman) is the best of both worlds: massive-open ended sandbox levels with myriad options, combined with the tight controls that made recent Hitman games stand out.
During a recent demo, we got to see first-hand how Agent 47’s skill and tool sets have expanded. Io Interactive describes the levels in Hitman as “Swiss cheese” – that is, full of many holes through which to enter. The lavish Paris fashion show that was the set for our assassination mission showcased this philosophy. Caterers were bringing food to the event from the side of the building; contractors were loading equipment on the other side. An open balcony door was within climbing reach… or we could use our invitation, and stride in unnoticed amongst the hundreds of people.
The crowd system in Hitman is incredible, filling the space with people and truly making it feel like you need to be stealthy. On top of the crowd, there are hundreds of characters that you can interact with in various ways (often violently). Hitman also features lots of interactive objects that can be used for distractions or kills. If you’re got the right tools (and, sometimes, the right outfit), you can do pretty much anything.
There are a lot of returning elements that Hitman fans will be familiar with. Coins can be picked up and tossed as distractions, but they also serve more of a purpose. Agent 47 used one to turn on a coin-operated diorama, distracting and angering the prima donna fashion designer. A new feature in Hitman is the ability to throw objects and non-lethally knock out other characters, in case you prefer to play an assassin who doesn’t leave a trail of bodies. You can still steal their clothes, though; in our demo, we saw a half-dozen costume options for Agent 47.
The sandbox-style missions are particularly cool, because you tell a different story each time. Cut-scenes and in-game conversations change based on your actions, and the final kill can be as subtle or as spectacular as you’d like. The finale in our demo brought the house down in one of the most satisfying hits of the series. Hitman rewards experimentation and creativity. Even if you’ve made the wrong choice (like, say, shot someone on the catwalk), the game will react and adapt to that. It creates a great sense of exploration, and your actions feel like they have more weight than they would in many other sandbox games.
We can’t wait to play, replay, and then play the missions again to explore everything that Agent 47 can do when Hitman hits (get it?) Xbox One December 8.