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Hitman Is Back

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There are few more recognisable video game protagonists than Hitman’s Agent 47. OK, so there are the obvious ones such as Mario and Sonic. And Link and Lara Croft. And, of course, there are the likes of Crash Bandicoot and Earthworm Jim. And a few more (Pac-Man, Donkey Kong). But, pedantry aside, the point remains: Agent 47 is an iconic character who has been absent for too long.

Finally, his return is imminent. The just-revealed plot of Hitman: Absolution begins when Agent 47 is given a new target — his handler and closest thing to a friend Diana Burnwood. After killing her (hey, they weren’t that close and a job’s a job), he investigates why she was marked for death. After taking her life, it’s the least he could do.

The first we saw of the game was last June — a short section packed with exciting action, thrilling gunplay and a fight with a helicopter. Fans were aghast. Was the silent assassin they loved a thing of the past? Only now can we answer that question. And it turns out their fears were unfounded.

ShortList was shown a new section of the game — a mission in a hospital swarming with enemies. And we saw it twice. Once with Agent 47 (disguised as a priest) loudly emptying clip after clip as he blasted his way through; the other with him stalking his prey, causing diversions to slip by unnoticed, and killing quietly but only when absolutely necessary.

He’s also got new ‘Instinct’ abilities — including one that allows him to take out entire rooms at once. But to use this ability, you have to fill up a meter (via skill moves like headshots).

It’s being touted as the most ambitious Hitman game to date. Given its dual-play styles (action and stealth), it’s technically two games in one, that looks like a fair assessment.

Hitman: Absolution is released on PC, PS3 and Xbox 360 in June

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