Bald Barcoded Badass

Whenever the stealth genre is discussed, the same two franchises tend to come up time and again: Metal Gear and Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell. Sure, there are other genre greats like Manhunt and Thief, but IO Interactive's Hitman series deserves credit for its novelty. It offers a more nuanced interpretation of stealth in a video game: it's less about slinking around in the shadows and more about blending in and making your kills look like freak accidents. Of course, it's well-known for offering players a greater degree of flexibility than most other stealth games. Hitman Absolution made quite a splash at E3 this year (for mostly good reasons), and we've got some impressions to share.

Codename 47 has been betrayed by the Agency, the European contract killing service that has employed our barcoded anti-hero since the inception of the franchise. Not much is known besides the controversial nuns from the trailer showcased, but we do know that there's some considerable star power in this game. Though David Bateman does not reprise his role as 47, there are a handful of well-known actors and actresses involved in this game. Keith Carradine (Deadwood, Dexter) assumes the role of Blake Dexter, the game's primary antagonist. Marsha Thomason (of Lost fame) takes over as 47's handler Diana Burnwood, and Powers Boothe (Deadwood, Guyana Tragedy) plays Agency head Benjamin Travis.

For the most part, Hitman: Absolution seems to stay true to its roots. As 47, you progress through stages by eliminating threats and assuming plausible disguises. IO is touting its artificial intelligence as one that reads your tactics and adjusts accordingly.

However, there are a few new tricks. In Absolution, 47 can enter Instinct Mode, a new mechanic that presumably makes the slinking around portions of the game easier to manage. It seems somewhat similar to Assassin's Creed's Eagle Vision, only this tool is capable of predicting enemy patrol patterns and identifying potential escape routes. It's also useful in locating new weapons and making your disguise even better.

Hitman: Absolution stakes out store shelves this fall. Check back for a full review.