In Hitman: Contracts, the upcoming third game in the series of third-person action games, you'll once again play as 47, the mysterious hitman who's hired to pull off the riskiest of assassinations. Like in previous games, your targets will most often live securely in difficult-to-infiltrate locations, and they'll usually place a legion of guards between you and them. By using cunning and guile, however, you can always figure out various ways to get past their defenses. One of the highlights of the Hitman series is that each mission has different paths, so you can choose the option that best fits your style of game.
We recently had the chance to see an early version of the game and also got to witness the different ways in which you can undertake a mission. In one mission, 47 had to infiltrate a heavily defended mansion to "deal with" the owner who was inside. The mansion was surrounded by stone walls, and its many pathways were guarded by roving patrols. And to make things more difficult, the house was occupied by other inhabitants--who posed problems of their own.
The first time through, we watched a stealth approach in action. By hiding in the shadows, 47 was able to maneuver along the walls while keeping out of sight of the guards. Thankfully, the mission took place on a rainy night, which cut down on visibility. Hiding in the bushes allowed 47 to analyze the timing patterns of the guards so that he could dash for the next hiding spot. Eventually, he arrived at the mansion and hit a major obstacle. The target's bedroom was connected to a downstairs bathroom by a secret door, but the bathroom was occupied by a woman who was taking a shower. By peeking into keyholes, 47 was able to peer into rooms so that he could sneak into the basement, where he turned off the water heater. Since the shower immediately started running cold water, the woman bolted out of the bathroom and ran downstairs to investigate. 47 then ran outside, climbed up a ladder, entered the bathroom through a window, and quickly found the secret door to the target's bedroom. He waited until the target was in bed and then smothered him with a pillow while his mistress slept beside him.
The second time through the same mission, 47 took a bolder approach by appropriating a guard's clothing and then putting it on, which let him walk around the mansion's grounds unchallenged. When he reached the mansion, 47 was able to go directly to the basement to shut off the hot water again, which caused the woman to run out of the shower while shrieking. 47 then raced up to access the secret door. Since he had saved so much time by not sneaking around the mansion's grounds, he was able to reach the bedroom well in advance of his target. This enabled 47 to hide behind a privacy screen so that he could wait for his target to appear. When his target got in bed, 47 crept up to him and then smothered him with a pillow, all while his guards sat in the next room, unaware of what was going on inside.
Judging by this level, it's clear that the new game will let players try out different ways of infiltrating enemy defenses to eliminate their targets. Hitman: Contracts should arrive for the PC, PlayStation 2, and Xbox later this month.