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Hitman: Blood Money

All new details and screens of Agent 47's latest adventure.

Everyone's favourite bald, barcoded bad guy, Agent 47, is back in action later this year, as the Hitman makes his return to our gaming systems on PS2, Xbox and PC. And with the game expected to make its public debut at E3 in just a few day's time, Eidos has released new screenshots of the game which you can sample right here.

And in addition, the first hard information on the IO-developed stealth action title has also sprung forth, boasting a bunch of new features that fans of the series should warm to.

As you may know already, (or even if you do, here's a recap), assassin-for-hire Agent 47 is pretty much caught between a rock and a hard place as he find himself slap bang in the middle of a war between two rival contract agencies.

Assassins from his contract agency, the ICA, are systematically eliminated in a series of hits, and another more powerful agency wants a piece of the action. With Agent 47 out of contact from the ICA the bald one travels to America to avoid being the next target and attempts to carry on with his business as usual.

Now for the new stuff: first of all IO has come up with a new 'Blood Money' system whereby the cleaner the 'hit' the more money you receive. This cash can then be used bribing witnesses and corrupt cops to reduce your notoriety; paying a sum at the end of a level to have your bloody wake mopped up, dead bodies disappear and so on.

You can also spend the cash sprucing up your arsenal and buying other specialist equipment and information. A nice touch that certainly beats simply picking up those oh-so-conveniently discarded weapons. And talking of weapon customisation, players will be able to modify Agent 47's arsenal in more than 50 ways including sound, recoil, rate of fire, damage, reload speed, accuracy and zoom.

A new weaponset will also incorporate different takes on everything from silenced weapons and fibre wire to household items and poisons. You'll even be able to take someone out with a set of weights.

IO is also promising a host of new gameplay techniques, including distraction, accidents, body disposal, human shield, pistol-whipping, decoy weapons and more to help you play the game just the way you want to. Apparently this is just the first raft of announcements too, with more detail expected soon. (Who knows when, eh?)

Add to that a bunch of new moves, with Agent 47 now able to climb, hide, scale ledges and automatically pass low obstacles. It's a whole lot more manoeuvrability than ever before, and something that should go a long way to making the environments feel more real.

IO also claims the enemy AI has been improved [gosh now -Ed], with "realistic enemy behaviour and interaction", where your foes will follow any blood trails that you leave behind, investigate suspicious items and behaviour, and generally be a lot sharper at pathfinding, tracking and movement than fans of the series will perhaps be used to. We look forward to seeing it in action.

The game should also be a lot more fun to play too, with overhauled control and camera systems, which apparently allow Agent 47 to move independently of the camera. All-new "Glacier" engine technology will also allow the environments and character models to look better than ever before (they say, obviously) with a dynamic soft shadowing, self-shadowing, normal mapping and other techniques. The screens look promising at least.

And that's not all. Oh no. Eidos reckons that even the narrative will be more "gripping" than ever before, and that can only be a good thing from our point of view. Add to that the usual top-notch atmospherics from BAFTA-winning composer Jesper Kyd, who has always done a sterling job in the past.

Check back soon for our thoughts when we get a hands-on with Hitman: Blood Money soon. In the meantime, check here for screenshots, and check back on Monday for a trailer and an exclusive Q&A with the game's developer IO Interactive.