Agent 47 is supposed to be the most skilled assassin in the world and in your hands he can be. However, to drive the story forward he makes mistakes in the cut scenes that would leave him dead in the game. Twice the main bad guy has 47 in his power and fails to kill him because, umm, he doesn't want to, or something. It's not even as if he doesn't know who 47 is, he recognises him the instant he lays eyes on him.
However, the biggest issue is the structure of the levels. Previous games have had the whole level available to you all in one go. In Absolution, they're broken up into smaller segments. This wouldn't be too bad if you could go back, but you can't. Once you move on through an area exit you can't return to get another disguise, weapon or distracting item.
For example, in one level I was disguised as a store clerk and had to get through a store to get to the next area. Obviously, the other store clerks were suspicious of me and on the first play-through my cover was blown. Then the next three areas were populated by police, on alert and my disguise wouldn't work and I couldn't go back. The next time I played the level I remained un-spotted and just walked through the next areas, under the noses of the police.
All of these words and I haven't even mentioned Instinct or Contract mode.
Instinct has two sides to it, Instinct Vision and Instinct Abilities. Instinct Vision is the simplest to explain, it's like Eagle Sense or Detective Vision. You are supposed to be calling on 47's training, experience and instincts to show you where people are, where they are going and what objects or locations are useful. It takes the place of the level maps from previous games and is one of your most useful tools to help you sneak around.
You see, pressing RB (in the case of the 360 version I played) will always fire up your Instinct Vision. If you press it while someone nearby is suspicious of you, though, you then the game will cover up your face whether you wanted to or not.
So, check on the position of a guard in another room with Instinct Vision while the one in this room is starting to get suspicious and you're burning up your Instinct meter. Move back two paces where he can't see you and you're OK to use Vision. Also, time moves more slowly when you use Vision, so you're burning up Instinct more than you would if Blending was its own function.
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Iím psyched to hear that the AI is good, because that can make or break a stealth game. From everything Iíve seen it looks like this could be a great game; Iím just a tad nervous about the story and the absolution angle. Is this going to be a gentler, kinder Agent 47? I hope not. That worry is the only thing keeping me from breaking my game-buying rule and picking it up on release day, but after being disappointed by several other highly anticipated games recently, I think Iíll hold out to rent it. I actually got my game-buying rule from one of my coworkers at DISH. Now I donít buy a game without first thoroughly being able to play-test it. So I rent all my games through Blockbuster @Home first, and if itís short or I donít like it, I donít buy it at all. Itís saved me a sizeable amount of money just in the past six months or so. Iíll put Hitman: Absolution in my Blockbuster @Home queue now so Iíll get to play it soon enough, especially since I still need to finish Dishonored and Assassinís Creed 3 (thatís a lot of games about assassins, isnít it?).
Interview Industry Insights: Xbox Reveal Edition