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A Beginner's Guide To Hitman: Absolution

Agent 47 is a killing machine, but if you go into Hitman: Absolution like it's a run-of-the-mill shooter, you're in for trouble. Before you embark on 47's newest adventure, read these spoiler-free tips to elevate your game from a trigger-happy goon to a master assassin.

Don't Panic!
Hitman's core gameplay has always revolved around slipping by enemies unnoticed. Absolution's new Instinct ability greatly helps in this regard, but the most important thing to remember is to not panic. Even when guards spot Agent 47, you still have time before their suspicion turns into a full-blown alert, which is indicated by an on-screen meter. Don't immediately start wasting your blend ability as soon as the meter starts rising; sometimes walking around a corner or simply turning around so the guard can't see your face can be enough to eliminate suspicion. Standing in a crowd of civilians also shakes unwanted attention – as long as you don't blow it by running off or pulling out a weapon.

Thou Shalt Not Kill (Too Much)
Unlike most action games, you score more points in Absolution for not killing enemies. In fact, you suffer a score penalty for every non-target you off. The subdue ability (performed by taking down an enemy from behind while unarmed) is your friend, and the minor score penalty you receive for knocking out an NPC is completely negated if you hide the body.

Even the best laid plans can go to hell from time to time. If you find yourself in a position where you need to kill a room full of guards, use your point shooting ability. Point shooting allows you to slow down time and tag multiple enemies; once you finalize your shots, Agent 47 takes care of the rest. You can negate some of the score penalty you're about to receive by killing enemies with headshots (after all, if you have to kill someone, you should at least be accurate), and if you kill all nearby guards at the same time, no one will be left to call for backup. Take the time to hide as many of the corpses as you can to further mitigate the knock to your score.

The Suit Makes The Man
Just like in previous installments, disguises are a central component to Absolution's gameplay. Disguises provide you with a number of helpful advantages. Wearing the right outfit can grant you access to areas that would otherwise send guards swarming, and allow you to brandish a weapon in the open.

This time around disguises are only suspicious to NPCs wearing the same uniform. For instance, a guard won't think twice if Agent 47 strolls past in a janitor's uniform, but another janitor will wonder why he's never seen you before. Some unique NPCs, such as a luchador or a mentally unstable plaintiff, can drastically impact how a level plays out.

Finally, don't be too tempted to go for the score bonus you get for not switching disguises: There's also a bonus for switching into every disguise in a level, and some levels are next to impossible if you stick with 47's patented suit. Save yourself the frustration and switch up your attire until you know the level inside and out.

A Worthwhile Distraction
Distractions are another important aspect of Absolution's stealth mechanics; there will be situations where you simply can't sneak past unnoticed. Luckily, distractions almost always work in these cases. Just grab an object – a glass, wrench, bible, etc. – and throw it someplace that's out of the way. If there's more than one nearby guard, the AI will conveniently send only one person to investigate. This makes it easy to lure and incapacitate consecutive guards.

Always carry an object you can use for a distraction; bricks and books are preferable to bottles and vases, as the latter break after one use. Also, be careful when using throwing weapons such as knives for distractions; the aiming reticle has a tendency to snap to the nearest enemy, which may result in an unwanted kill during tense moments.

Take Cover!
Hitman: Absolution features one of the better cover systems in video games, so use it – all the time. Going into cover is more effective than just crouching behind the same object, and using the "switch cover" option won't alert guards, whereas duck-walking past a doorway probably will. You can also kill enemies from behind cover, and sliding up to the end of a wall automatically gives you a good look of what's around the corner – perfect for getting the drop on a patrolling guard. While we're at it, those crates and closets you dump dead bodies in also make great hiding places. As long as someone doesn't see you crawling into it, you're undetectable, even if you use the peek function.

The Wire
The garrote wire is your most valuable weapon in Absolution. While it requires you to get right up behind an enemy, the garrote wire has a number of advantages. It's silent, it can be used an infinite number of times, and doesn't leave behind a blood pool that eagle-eyed guards might spot. The garrote wire is also faster than snapping an enemy's neck, and allows you to instantly drag the body, which comes in handy when you've only got a few seconds to hide the corpse. Finally, the garrote wire also gives you a healthy score bonus, and you can carry it out in the open without NPCs realizing you're armed. Just don't forget when you have it equipped, or you'll end up killing a guard you intended to subdue.

Accidents Happen
Like previous Hitman games, Absolution provides a variety of environmental kills for dispatching your enemies. While the garrote wire is still your best bet, tracking down and figuring out these unique assassination methods is a lot of fun. Environmental kills can make some levels a cinch; guards will be alerted if your target has a fatal mishap, but they won't be looking for a killer if they think it's an accident. You also won't have to worry about hiding the body, and the crowd that gathers around the accident offers a good distraction for you to make your escape.

Many of Absolution's challenges revolve around these environmental kills, and deal a healthy score bonus for pulling them off. Your target's behavior can clue you to potential kill options; maybe that drug kingpin periodically stops for a pee break underneath a hanging pallet of sacks, or that deadly nun (sort of a long story) keeps returning to her unguarded espresso during her patrol route. Take the time to explore each environment – doing so also helps you identify the level's checkpoints, which are location-based this time around.

Want more information on Hitman: Absolution? Read our review, and then see the game in action in our Hitman Test Chamber.

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