However, recently Diana has gone rogue, shutting down the Agency systems and stealing a valuable piece of property. Now, the Agency has located Diana's hiding place and its new head, Benjamin Travis, has given 47 the job of killing her and retrieving the stolen property, which turns out to be a little girl by the name of Victoria.
So starts your adventure in Hitman: Absolution. If you've already read my preview from October then you'll know the rough gist of the changes that have been made to the formula last seen in 2006's Hitman: Blood Money. If not you may wish to pop over there for a quick refresher course before continuing.
That's not to say there aren't infiltration sections later on in the game, this has always been part of the Hitman formula, but they are much more fair than those I played in the preview. For example, there's a much wider spread of disguises in the later areas, enabling you to walk past a lot of people without raising suspicion.
All of this feeds into the AI, which is really very good. Characters react more or less as you would expect them to, even if some of them are very myopic or focused on their own little tasks. Sound plays a big part, too. I was stuck repeating a particular section of a later level until I realised that I had time to move more slowly than I had been trying and therefore could make less noise and slip past the guards who had caught me a few times before.
As with the previous games, the ways you can kill your targets are many and varied. From breaking their necks to sniping them from half the level away and everything in between. Accidents make a welcome return so you'll be pushing people over parapets and dropping crane loads of bricks on them. And that's to say nothing of the poisoner's arts.
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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?).
Closing date:30 Jun 2013