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Plenty can change in six years, especially in an industry as tumultuous as video games. Hitman Absolution, a linear sequel in a franchise with quite a widespread fanbase, comes out six years after its last installment in a time when almost all blockbuster gaming franchises are churning out at least one new sequel every year. One of these remarkable franchises is Assassin's Creed. This came out the same year as the last Hitman game and has since then dominated the third person stealth assassin genre. Assassin's Creed took what was clunky and frustrating about crowd navigation in Hitman and made it an exciting aspect of intense parkour chases. Both franchises employ equally ridiculous science fiction narratives, but gamers have certainly latched more onto Assassin's Creed's mix of futuristic sci-fi and renaissance gallantry than Hitman's somewhat confusing, clone based story. So now that Hitman Absolution is out, will the former reigning king retake the thrown?

The most surprising thing about Hitman Absolution is the immediate sense that developer IO interactive has not missed a beat. Game sequels coming out years after their predecessors tend to get stuck in the now outdated mechanics of their previous installment. All is well in Absolution however, players picking up this game without knowledge of its history will likely never know of the franchise's six year hiatus. In fact, Agent 47 controls better than ever, navigating massive crowds in environments teeming with life has always been a part of Hitman's genius. The influence of this is seen in Assassin's Creed and almost any other stealth game on the market right now.

The AI in the crowds and open levels in this game are superb, and that's a mammoth accomplish within itself. The worse part of bad AI is that when a gamer notices it, their experience is tainted by the reminder of the programming behind the game The illusion of the action being organic and based on the player's decisions is instantly shattered. This won’t happen to players in Absolution. Every crowd and individual NPC reaction is a direct result of player action. This is a huge and surprising step up on Assassin's Creed, which is marred by aggressively poor AI. Agent 47 controls too like the perfect killing machine. Disguises are still his forte and the main tactic he uses to finish a job unnoticed. Full blown gun battles control smoothly too however, both stealth and brute force are equally effective ways to complete a mission.

The beauty of this game cannot be understated either. The open levels feature expansive views and environments that are as gorgeous up close as they are far away. The 20 hours plus campaign is brilliantly paced and additional replay value is added in the all new Contract Mode. The basic concept is that gamers create unique contracts for other players to attempt over Xbox live. It's essentially the world's biggest game of murder HORSE.

Hitman Absolution is a fantastic entry in a series that slipped away just as it caught solid footing. Every gamer, especially fans of Assassin's Creed, should at least consider renting it.