Hitman Absolution
Agent 47 is back and as ruthless as ever

Fans of sneaking around as a bald, mysterious and suited man with a bar code tattooed on his neck will be excited to hear that, after a six year break, Hitman is back.

But don't all rush to your consoles at once, because developer IO has made a few changes; where before sneaking around in the shadows, disposing of enemies with piano wire and hiding bodies in cupboards was the norm, it's now possible to take a Rambo-esque, Call of Duty approach.

In what IO is calling "Non-Pro Play", gamers can run around like headless chickens, firing wildly and roughly in the direction of the enemy without suffering too many injuries. This almost certainly won't appeal to fans of the original Hitman games, but may help to attract new players who, while enjoying the Hitman film of 2007, never played the originals.

The silent assassin that is Agent 47 has changed his ways, and now players can - from the gameplay we've seen - run around shooting everything they see like it's a one-manned Modern Warefare sequel, but don't fret, because sneaking around is highly rewarded by the new perks system called Instinct.

The Instinct system rewards players for using sneaky Hitman-style tactics to bring down enemies by giving Agent 47 the ability to see through walls and observe the movement of guards from afar.

Another perk of Instinct is "Point-Shoot," which lets the play select several enemies at once, along with exploding items nearby, before pulling the trigger and killing them all in one go.

Once activated, "Point-Shoot" then plays out the sequence, with cinematic camera shots of multiple explosions, tracking each bullet to its fleshy destination and slow-motion shots of bodies dropping to the floor. Finally, Instinct also allows Agent 47 to copy whoever he has stolen clothes from for a disguise.

It must be noted that Instinct - which can only be used at select times - is earned by playing Hitman as it should be, by creeping around in the shadows and dispatching guards as quietly as possible.

Players who want to run and gun will not get the Instinct rewards and missions still require an element of stealth to be successfully completed, even if now a couple of shots to Agent 47 won't result in restarting the level.

With regard to plot and characters, IO is keeping most details close to its chest for now, and a release window of 'sometime in 2012' is the most accurate we can be.