Hitman Absolution Features

FeatureWhy are we stuck with games being released on a Friday?

An investigation into the origins, arguments and potential for change.

For as long as most folk remember, games have launched on Fridays in the UK and on Tuesday in the US. That's the way of things. Sometimes they converge for a glitzy worldwide launch but mostly they don't - they stick to the norm, and Europeans wait.

Hitman Absolution Preview: Classic Hitman Returns

For much of the build up to 47's return IO Interactive and Square Enix have blushed and hidden behind a marketing plan whenever awkward questions like "Is there actually any proper Hitman?" crop up. This has been a shame. Linear stealthing past roaming ultra-sweary gangsters in libraries and orphanages is fine and dandy, but it's not why we love Hitman. Neither, incidentally, are sequences in which 47 performs a series of full-frontal takedowns on a squad of bondage death-nuns.

Hitman is about taking the time out to watch who goes where, and who does what. It's working out how to get into buildings; who you steal clothes from, what you're carrying and where you've stashed your weaponry. It's about dressing as a clown and amusing yourself by pushing council workers into dump trucks. It's about best made plans going very wrong, and having to shove bodies into cupboards to cover your tracks at the very last minute.

Let's hold hands and offer a votive of thanks, then, that Square Enix has finally let us play something that's proper Hitman. This Chinatown execution isn't as playful or colourful as Hitman sandboxes gone by, but it still features a multitude of ways to off your target.

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FeatureHitman Sniper Challenge: Premeditated Murder

Does Agent 47's pre-order bonus put a bullet in the head of traditional game marketing?

A smartly dressed figure sits on a rooftop, cradling a powerful rifle. There's an open-air party on top of the building opposite: a helicopter lands, and a VIP gets out, flanked by a small army of bodyguards. Our mysterious observer raises his weapon, his bald head leans into the scope revealing the barcode tattoo on the back of his skull. Aim. Squeeze. Fire.

Agent of Change: Hitman Absolution Preview

Here's the scene; an orphanage, on a dark and typically stormy night. Blood runs through the corridors, and fresh corpses pile up by the walls. In the nursery, under bright birthday bunting, there's a lullaby of screams as a guard strapped to a wooden chair is slowly tortured.

Meanwhile, a silent killer picks off his prey one-by-one. At one moment in this violent game of hide and seek, a brightly coloured beach ball rolls silently past - at another, with one more victim dispatched, the body's hidden in a nearby ball-pool. It's an orphanage, but with the body count tick-tick-ticking ever upwards it may as well be an orphan factory.

For all the concerns about Hitman: Absolution's grittier, more action-led take on Danish developer IO Interactive's bloodthirsty mascot, it's most definitely retained its line in jet-black humour. "We tried to take it out of Absolution in the beginning," says game director Tore Blystad, a man that, despite being in charge of one of the medium's most notorious killers, can't hold back the widest and most infectious of grins, "we wanted it to be more serious, so this humour had to go. But then it crept back in, so we had to embrace it. It's one of the fundamental pillars of the game."

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FeatureHitman: Absolution Returns

Lead producer Hakan Abrak on hardcore achievements, online and more.

With Hitman: Absolution, Danish developer IO Interactive is crafting a darker, more personal story than fans are used to. But, more controversially, it's also crafting a more cinematic experience, with plenty of action and shooting. At least, this is what it looks like IO is crafting.

FeatureHitman: Absolution

Costume drama.

The art of quietly skulking in the shadows, treading softly and waiting in the wings for a stealthy kill has become incredibly loud over the past few years. Since 2006's Hitman: Blood Money, Arkham Asylum lent the stalk 'em-up genre the gravitas of an icon as well as a handful of new ideas. Meanwhile, last year's Splinter Cell: Conviction turned Sam Fisher into a primitive, snarling action hero.