Purposefully vulgar marketing isn't the only thing controversial about the new Hitman game Hitman: Absolution; plenty of folks are worried that the game itself will be a big departure from the slow-paced, careful gameplay of the first games. The Splinter Cell: Conviction to Blood Money's Chaos Theory, if you will.


Reading Stephen's hands-on preview from the game (and then watching the game in action), I feel reassured. Donning costumes, tackling a semi-open sandbox level and trying to come up with the sneakiest way to kill someone? Wearing a chef outfit and poisoning food? Knifing someone in a dark alley? Sounds like Hitman to me.

In his preview, Stephen says that the game copies a lot of Assassin's Creed, but to me, the level sounds like a more advanced version of something Hitman fans have already seen: "Murder of Crows," the Mardi Gras level in Hitman: Blood Money.

That level had a similar scenario to the one Stephen describes in Absolution—it was right after the release of the Xbox 360, so the technology hadn't gotten to the point where it is now, but all the same—huge crowd full of people, sneaking through and disguising yourself, taking out targets in creative ways… I could see that formula taking the technological advances illustrated by Assassin's Creed to make something even more reactive and remarkable.

As you can see from the walkthrough above, most of the "Murder of Crows" level lacks depth—the player has learned the ins and outs of the level to a point where he/she can manipulate it completely. But in a more advanced game, this kind of could well wind up being the exact kind of thing I think of when I think of a "current-gen Hitman game."

I haven't played Blood Money in a while, but I recall that this level was A) Really cool and showed a lot of promise and B) Kind of flawed and frustrating in practice. Either way, this has got me wanting to go back and play the game again, particularly with that rumor of the HD collection. (Though then again, I have all of these games on PC, where I play them in HD already.)