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NYCC '12: Hands On: Hitman: Absolution

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Unfortunately, while getting my hands on the demo of Hitman: Absolution at New York Comic Con, I did not have one of the developers walking me through it. In fact, I didn't even know that I'd picked the demo that wasn't actually the introductory level that sets up the story and explains all the controls and gameplay for you. Oops! So instead, I played a mission called "King of Chinatown" where I was tasked with taking out this guy. I lingered in the crowd unseen and then followed him around. There were quite a few cops in the area, and always at a point where I wanted to off him, but couldn't because of the police presence. But eventually, he wandered to a more secluded area where I garrotted him and quickly scurried away from the body. Unfortunately, it turns out that the exit to the area was right where I'd dumped the corpse, so I had to kind of nonchalantly wander by like nothing was going on and get out of Dodge! That worked fine, but the next mission was to infiltrate a hotel and that proved beyond my limited skills. I snuck around the basement and managed to kill someone and swipe their clothes for a disguise, but that only got me so far. Eventually, I was on the right floor of the hotel, but there were simply too many bodyguards, and each time I took one out, another saw me, and the chain of dominoes just kept falling until they overwhelmed me and I died in a brutal firefight.

The graphics are tremendous, and I rather liked the painterly texture to some cutscenes I saw. The controls were okay, but I found that oftentimes there were button presses required when simply moving the analog stick would've been more intuitive. Like climbing ladders and shimmying across ledges. It was also watching someone else be talked through the actual introductory demo that I learned more about the game. Instinct is like your assassin power, but you have to choose how to best use it. You can use it to get hints, blend in better with your disguise, or activate "point shooting," which is what they're calling their bullet time effect. As with all the Hitman games, you have options as to how you want to complete your mission, but killing people who aren't your target actually deducts points from your score, so to get the most points, you're going to want to be extra sneaky and leave people out cold, but alive.

I'm not the biggest fan of stealth games, because I hate that you make your way through a level only to have someone find you out and you pretty much have to start all the way over again at the beginning. But I was assured that if you're discovered, it's not the end, because only the person who saw you will react. So if you can quietly take them out without another witness, you'll be okay. Also, there are checkpoints periodically throughout the mission, so you wouldn't have to restart at the very beginning anyway. Still, the only Hitman game I ever played was the original one on the PS2, and I didn't really enjoy it, so I'm still not sold on Absolution. But if this is up your alley, get ready to start taking people out on November 20 on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC!

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