Top Five… Games on a Budget

With Christmas still fresh in our memories and the British economy still licking its financial wounds, it’s not that easy to find the cash-flow to match an appetite for gaming. Don’t look so glum though, as we’ve put together our top five games that’ll give you hours of fun and real value for money… even on a tight budget.

#5 Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga

There are a lot of Lego games out there (seventeen in fact, if you’re counting across the generations), and if there’s one thing these games do well, its replay value. All of the current gen Lego games are built around the same setup, with a central hub that shoots off into whichever movie or character the game is based on. We chose the Complete Saga as it’s technically a combination of the first two Lego Star Wars titles. As such, you get six episodes, with six chapters per episode.

Think time-sink? Think Lego Star Wars.
Think time-sink? Think Lego Star Wars.

As it’s a Lego game, this is a collection fest – from red bricks that give you powers to building minikits of your favourite Star Wars vehicles, this game isn’t the kind of title you’ll wrap up in six to eight hours. To gain the coveted (read: obsessive compulsive) 100% achievement/trophy/feeling of gratification, you’re looking at 40-50 hours of character collecting and stud gathering. It’s also dead cheap, so no excuses if you’re skint.

#4 GTA IV

What better time is there to take a trip to Rockstar’s revamped Liberty City than the year that GTA V finally arrives? We could’ve chosen the sprawling systems of the Mass Effect franchise or the self-torture of Dark Souls, but there is something unfathomably deep about the fourth numerical entry in Rockstar’s flagship franchise.

Need something to do? Try finding all the bloody pidgeons in GTA IV.
Need something to do? Try finding all the bloody pidgeons in GTA IV.

Even if you’ve completed every side-mission, beaten the main story, won every race and ticked off every job, there’s still a wealth of well hidden collectables scattered across Liberty City. GTA IV is the kind of game you can just cruise around the streets listening to the hours of licenced tunes or original comedy whilst the sun sets amidst the vistas of the city. It’s also not the kind of game to give up acheivements/trophies that easily, so it’s perfect for gaming on a budget. And it should give you plenty of time to prepare yourself for the gargantuan game world that will be San Andreas 2.0.s

#3 Borderlands 2

Who’d have thought an FPS could last over 50 hours in a single playthrough? The first Borderlands gave us a glimpse of an open and dangerous world in Pandora and proved a shizzle-ton of guns and some co-op gameplay could a serious fun time make. So imagine that same formula refined and tweaked by the good people at Gearbox Software? Imagine a Pandora bigger than before, teeming with lush backdrops and enough enemy types to keep even the savviest shooter vet on his or her toes?

With five character classes and a ton of DLC, Borderlands 2 is a beast.
With five character classes and a ton of DLC, Borderlands 2 is a beast.

Borderlands 2 is designed to be an endless experience, letting you redeploy your levelled character back into Pandora with more loot and tougher enemies guarding it. The levelling system, skill-trees and five separate classes make Borderlands 2 a veritable steal under £30.

#2 Football Manager 2013

Whether you love your football stats or you just get a boner for micro-management, Football Manager is a literal black hole for millions. For what is essentially a deep cavern of menus and options, the Football Manager series gives you the chance to control every facet of professional football clubs existence. From base-level finances to formations tactics mid-game, Football Manager lets you do everything save playing the match yourself (and we’ve all got FIFA or PES for that). Picking up FM12 for around £10/£15 is beyond silly for hundreds of hours as a football-sim god. Budget gaming? This is practically a steal.

FM13 is less of a game, and more of a second job (without the pay).
FM13 is less of a game, and more of a second job (without the pay).

#1 The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

When you think ‘value for money’, chances are it’s wearing a horned helmet and a dwarven warhammer! The world of The Elder Scrolls V may have its bugs but you’d be hard pressed to find a gaming land as rich and populated as Skyrim. What other game can you spend over 100 hours doing nothing more than wandering around, exploring dungeons and completing the occasional side-quest and never seen the time go by?

What other game can you spend 100 hours in and not even touch the main campaign?
What other game can you spend 100 hours in and not even touch the main campaign?

Even without shelling out for the Dawnguard, Hearthfire and Dragonborn DLC you’re looking at paying £20 for potentially hundreds of hours of dragon-hunting, skill-tree branching RPG goodness. Go forth, Dragonborn.

What are your favourite games for beating the recession blues? Let us in the comments. We might even respond, if you’re lucky

Trophy Whore | TMNT

Looking to unashamedly boost your gamerscore or trophy count? Do you, dare we ask, like achievements that increase in multiples of four? Then we’ve got a feature just for you. Trophy whores, ASSEMBLE!!! It’s time for TMNT

So, what’s it about (in case I like it)?

As the last paragraph might have let on, TMNT is the 2007 game tie-in to the movie of the same name. Do you remember it? Neither do we, and the game didn’t fair to well either. The game is based around playing as each of the four titular heroes in half shells, utilising their different skills in a surprisingly fun hot-swapping mechanic. There’s a story, but the game does a great job of not conveying it.

There's always plenty of enemies waiting to be beaten up in TMNT.
There’s always plenty of enemies waiting to be beaten up in TMNT.

Is it actually any good?

Kind of. Sorry, we know that’s vague, but there’s nothing worse than a game that gives you glimpses of a great idea, wrapped in a never-ending face palm. Despite this, the platforming mechanics in TMNT work solidly – with each of the turtles feeling significantly different to warrant the hot-swapping feature.

The problem is the game spends too long on each character’s individual levels, rather than giving you enough levels with multiple characters. The graphics are, rather poignantly, best described as ‘ass’.

TMNT is a treasure trove for your gamerscore.
TMNT is a treasure trove for your gamerscore.

How many achievements are there?

There are a total of 23 achievements in TMNT (sorry PlayStation faithful, TMNT was released before the inclusion of trophy support and never received a subsequent patch) – and yes, 16 of those are completing the game’s 16 levels. This is one of those ‘single-run-and-then-you’re-done’ jobbys.

TMNT retains the movie's cartoon-style look.
TMNT retains the movie’s cartoon-style look.

How long will it take me to get at them?

Honestly, not that long – you’re looking at around four to five hours max, a little longer if you like ass-esque level designs from 1999.

List of Achievements/Trophies

Mystical Jungle – Complete Level 1 – 20g

Vigilantism – Complete Level 2 – 24g

Techno Ninjutsu – Complete Level 3 – 28g

Cowabunga Carl Getaway – Complete Level 4 – 32g

Spirit of the Forest – Complete Level 5 – 36g

Ninja Tag Time – Complete Level 6 – 40g

The Game is the Foot – Complete Level 7 – 44g

Foot trail – Complete Level 8 – 48g

Tower Power – Complete Level 9 – 52g

When the slime comes – Complete Level 10 – 56g

O brother where art thou – Complete Level 11 – 60g

Bite me! – Complete Level 12 – 64g

All is Forgiven – Complete Level 13 – 68g

Ninjas in the crypt – Complete Level 14 – 72g

The Mysterious Leader – Complete Level 15 – 76g

Winter’s Secret – Complete Level 16 – 80g

Get your first coin – Get your first coin [this is actually what it says, no joke – Ed] – 15g

Family Unit – Do a co-op combination attack – 15g

Used Mikes special move – Used Mikes special move – 30g

Used Raphs special move – Used Raphs special move – 30g

Used Leos special move – Used Leos special move – 30g

Used Dons special move – Used Dons special move – 30g

Clean Sweep – Complete a level without taking damage – 50g

 

Enjoy games with grammatically infuriating achievement descriptions? Check out next weeks instalment for more boosting shame.

Most anticipated games of 2013 | Act 1

Goodbye 2012, it’s been emotional. You brought us a solid year of AAA releases and the explosion of the indie/downloadable title. So we thought we’d take a look at what you can get your hands on in 2013. Due to the sheer number of stunning games due for release in 2013 we’ve made a two parter. This is supposed to be the last big year for the console behemoths, and boy what a year this promises to be. So let’s begin, Act 1…

Bioshock Infinite BoxartBioshock Infinite – In “Bioshock Infinite,” indebted to the wrong people and with his life on the line, veteran of the U.S. Cavalry and now hired gun Booker De-Witt has only one opportunity to wipe his slate clean. He must rescue Elizabeth, a mysterious girl imprisoned since childhood and locked up in the flying city of Columbia. Together, they learn to harness an expanding arsenal of weapons and abilities, as they fight on zeppelins in the clouds, along high-speed Sky-Lines, and down in the streets of Columbia, all while surviving the threats of the air-city and uncovering its dark secret. Available 26th March, 2013.

 

Dead Space 3Dead Space 3 – Winner of more than 15 critic awards at E3 2012 including Best of Show from Game Informer Magazine, “Dead Space 3” cuts to the heart of deep space terror. The game is recognised by game critics worldwide for its incredible craftsmanship in horror, action, suspense and sound design. Players will embark on a thrilling ride through space that takes them to a hostile new planet, Tau Volantis. Fortunately, they are not alone this time around. The fully integrated drop-in/ drop-out co-op feature gives players the option to play alone or team-up with a friend anytime. Players that choose to take down the terror together will experience additional story details, side missions and gameplay mechanics only found when playing as John Carver. Available 5th February, 2013

 

Gears Of War JudgmentGears of War: Judgment – “Gears of War: Judgment” delivers the most intense and challenging “Gears of War” game yet, with a campaign that takes you back to the immediate aftermath of Emergence Day — the defining event of the “Gears of War” universe — for the very first time, and tests your mettle in highly competitive new multiplayer modes. The battle begins on 19th March, 2013.

 

 

GTA V BoxartGrand Theft Auto V – Developed by series creator Rockstar North, “Grand Theft Auto V” is the largest and most ambitious title in the series to date. Set in the sprawling city of Los Santos and the surrounding area, “Grand Theft Auto V” delivers a world of unprecedented scale and detail bursting with life, from mountaintops to the depths of the ocean. Available this Spring.

 

 

South Park The Stick of TruthSouth Park Stick of Truth – From the perilous battlefields of the fourth-grade playground, a young hero will rise, destined to be South Park’s savior. From the creators of South Park, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, comes an epic quest to become… cool. Introducing “South Park™: The Stick of Truth™.” Discover the lost Stick of Truth and earn your place at the side of Stan, Kyle, Cartman and Kenny as their new friend. Succeed, and you shall be South Park’s savior, cementing your social status in South Park Elementary. Fail, and you will forever be known… as a loser. Available this Spring.

 

Tomb RaiderTomb Raider – “Tomb Raider” explores the intense and gritty origin story of Lara Croft and her ascent from a frightened young woman to a hardened survivor. Armed only with raw instincts and the ability to push beyond the limits of human endurance, Lara must fight to unravel the dark history of a forgotten island to escape its relentless hold. The adventure begins on 5th March, 2013.

 

 

Aliens Colonial MarinesAliens: Colonial Marines – The Aliens are perfect killing machines, the nightmares of the galaxy. Our only hope for survival is the ultimate in military force. Are you ready to sign up with the Colonial Marines? 17 weeks after losing contact with Hadley’s Hope, a new team of Colonial Marines returns to LV-426. The rescue mission becomes a battle for survival against new dangers, new enemies and new species of Xenomorphs. Developed by Gearbox, the critically acclaimed developers of Borderlands and Brothers In Arms, Aliens: Colonial Marines is the ultimate action/horror first-person shooter. Lethal. Bloodthirsty. RELENTLESS. The fight for survival begins on 12th February, 2013.

 

Metal Gear Rising RevengeanceMetal Gear Rising: Revengeance – Players assume control of Raiden, protagonist of Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty and supporting character in Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots. A key gameplay feature for the game is titled zan-datsu, which involves “cutting” through enemies and “taking” parts from the bodies of dismembered cyborgs and robots. Rising’s stealth elements will emphasize Raiden’s considerable speed and agility through what Matsuyama describes as “hunting stealth.” Unlike the “waiting stealth” of previous titles, in which players remained hidden and avoided combat, players in Rising will instead quickly stalk their enemies and use acrobatic maneuvers to stay out of sight while closing in. Assume control on 28th February 2013

 

SimCity BoxartSimCity – The defining city simulation is back! Create the city you desire and make the choices that shape your city and power the Sims within it. Every decision, big or small, has real consequences. Invest in heavy industry and your economy will soar—but at the expense of your Sims’ health as pollution spreads. Implement green technology and improve your Sims’ lives while risking higher taxes and unemployment. Team up with your friends to solve global challenges: launch a space shuttle, reduce carbon emissions, or build magnificent wonders. Compete on global and regional leaderboards to be the richest, the dirtiest, the happiest or the best place to visit! Become god on 05th March, 2013.

 

Stay tuned for part two, we’ve only just got warmed up.

Hitman HD Trilogy Outed on Amazon US?

A listing had recently appeared on the American arm of online retailer Amazon seemingly outing the imminent release of a Hitman HD Collection.

With a price of $39.99 (there’s no UK or European pricing yet) and a supposed release date of 23 January 2013, Amazon lists the Collection for both PS3 & Xbox 360.

hitman hd trilogy
Can this Agent 47 Greatest Hits be true?

Re-mastered in HD, the package will collect together Hitman 2: Silent Assassin, Hitman: Contracts & Hitman: Blood Money. The Collection follows the recent success of other HD Collections from Splinter Cell to Metal Gear Solid.

According to the listing the first run of the Collection will ship with a limited edition art book depicting famous scenes from across the three games.

In the listing is genuine, it will follow the release of IO Interactive’ latest addition to the franchise Hitman Absolution last month. You can find our review of Agent 47’s latest jaunt here.

Hitman Absolution | A Silent Assassin’s Guide

Misguided PR campaigns aside, Hitman Absolution has proved to be one of 2012’s biggest surprises. With a new in-game score system and some punishing level designs we thought we’d put together some top tips to help you become the ultimate bald-headed assassin…

Patience is a virtue

Unless you’re playing the game in guns-blazing mode, Hitman Absolution is all about studying the area you’re in. If you’re playing on a lower difficulty various points of interest will appear as small ripples in Instinct mode, but to those playing on the three higher ‘Professional’ difficulties you’ll need to rely on your sense of curiosity & creativity.

Be sure to study the paths of potentially hostile NPCs; windows of opportunity are there, so be sure to choose your moments wisely. Like so many games all guard patrols are always the same & will loop back after a certain amount of time, so don’t be afraid to wait for the best time to slip by.

The Chicago Library level will be a true test of your stealth timing

Low body count, high score

Almost every level of the game can be played with ZERO casualties bar your target. It’s not easy, but the right path, disguise & timing is there to be used. If you do need to take out a guard or NPC to move past unnoticed or to gain a particular disguise, be sure to press down on the d-pad to un-equip whatever weapon or object you’re carrying. This way you can press X or square to subdue a character unconscious. You’ll be penalised for non-target casualties so pacification is the key.

No one likes a litterer

As with all games with a stealth option, leaving a body lying around is a sure fire way to blow your cover. So, just like 2006’s Hitman Blood Money, you can stash bodies in various containers littered around each area. These rectangular containers glow in Instinct mode but it pays to look out for bins, freezers & crates that look big enough to stash a body. Hiding a body successfully also gains you some points back on pacification or kill.

Wardrobes & lockers are also a great way to conceal bodies

Use Instinct wisely

The new Instinct ability in Absolution has caused something of a divide in critics & fans of the series, but it all depends on your difficulty of choice. The ‘Enhanced’ settings (Easy & Normal) lets you use Instinct mode indefinitely, making it feel like Detective Mode in Batman Arkham Asylum. It’s a bit of a cheat but a great way to learn the ins-&-outs of an area. One higher difficulties just entering Instinct mode will reduce it so be sure to preserve it for those all-important blends or some Splinter Cell Conviction style ‘Point Shooting’ that lets you take out multiple enemies in seconds. Use it wisely.

Belle of the ball

If you’re going for a Silent Assassin rating then picking the right threads for the job is a must. Some parts of an area can be crossed in your suit with no suspicion from guards, but some parts are deemed ‘Hostile Territory’. If you’re spotted in one of these areas then you’ll be automatically spotted. Disguises can be found in little white bags or taken from dead/subdued NPCs so recon what threads are being worn in each area. Wearing a different disguise to a guard will let you slip by un-noticed, whilst wearing the same uniform (which is usually key to entering a hostile area) will cause a guard to become suspicious so be sure to use Instinct mode to fool them (i.e blend in).

 

Disguises are useful but come with their risks

Use that line of site

Just like Metal Gear Solid & Splinter Cell of old, Absolution’s guards & NPCs main means of detection is all based on sight & sound. If you drop into low profile (sneak mode) in front of a guard in any area they’ll become suspicious, so be sure to sneak when it’s most beneficial. If you’re moving without a disguise or in a heavily guarded area be sure to move silently once a guard has moved away or has turned their back. Watch out of the yellow warnings that sharpen depending on how suspicious a guard is of you, if it turns red you’re busted.

Using distractions is also a great way to carve out a window of opportunity. If you see a random object lying around, from a radio to a screwdriver, be sure to pick it up. These can be thrown to draw a guard’s attention away from an objective or door. Keep in mind that some objects like radios & busts will break after one use so use them wisely.

Each level is full of things to use to your advantage. Go explore!

Be bold when it’s called for

Ultimately, you’ll never get anything done if you sit behind cover or in the safety of a crate the whole time. Don’t be afraid to go into an area & scope out the challenges ahead of you, if you’re spotted you can just restart the checkpoint and use what you’ve learned in your next go. Some situations will need you to act on a moment’s impulse, slipping through the tiniest of gaps in a patrol to make it through. Be bold, bite your nails and have fun!  Perfection never comes easy.

Let us know your top tips for taking on the many challenges of Hitman Absolution in the comments below!

Far Cry 3 | A Survivors Guide

The tropical locales of Rook Island may look beautiful, but Ubisoft have made sure there’s more than enough danger lurking within its colourful forests. But fear ye not, for infinite robots has stalked the islands of Far Cry 3 (yes, we said islands) and faced the insanity of Vaas and his cheerful band of pirates. So before you delve into this FPS playground, be sure to pack the Infinite Robots guide to Survival in Far Cry the Third…

Use Your Surroundings to Your Advantage

Whilst built around an FPS template, there’s a surprisingly deep level of stealth written into the game play. The islands of Far Cry 3 are a dangerous place so understanding the lay of the land is key to becoming a master hunter. All enemies, from pirates & mercs to predators have AI based on line of sight – so if you break that line then you can escape or turn a one sided man-hunt into some deadly guerrilla warfare. Use the long grass, foliage, trees, rocks & huts of Rook Island & you’ll soon be the deadliest thing around.

Farcry 3

Your Best Weapon…Is Your Camera

It might sound a little crazy (which would suit this game down to the ground) but protagonist Jason’s digital camera is by far his most useful piece of kit. By selecting the camera you can highlight any living thing on the island from pirates to pigs. Once tagged you can track each target with a live image that shows their movement straight through any scenery.  Once tagged you can flip back to your weapons & pick of an outpost of mercs or hunt a tiger for its pelt. It’s an invaluable tool & one that’s godlike in the right hands.

It’s all about Recon

Even for the most experienced of Far Cry 3 players, the guns-blazing course of action will likely get you needlessly killed. Just like in Skyrim or any other open-world/RPG mash-up, scouting out an area is key to building a strategy for success. The island is littered with pirate outposts & packs of predators. Using your camera & the cover provided by the islands scenery will give you the chance to find the best route to surviving the dangers of Rook Island.

Farcry 3

Master Craftsman

And, just like the dragon-obsessed Skyrim, there’s a fun & addictive crafting element to Far Cry 3. Whilst it’s neither as deep or complicated as many RPG crafting systems, the crafting element in Far Cry 3 is just as integral to your characters progression. Collecting the multi-coloured fauna located around the islands can be used to make syringes that replenish health & give you a burst adrenaline. By killing & skinning certain animals (be they herbivores or carnivores, the island has plenty of both) you can craft extra space for more syringes, more weapons & more space for the loot & plants you collect across your adventure. All this can be accessed in a few clicks from the pause menu so be sure to check each packs requirements.

Indulge Your Inner Magpie, Collect Everything

Everything has a value in Far Cry 3. You’ll need cash to buy new weapons & replenish your ammo so be sure to loot the body of every pirate or merc you take down. You’ll always find some cash & every now & then you’ll recover an item that can be sold on at one of the local gun-shops around the islands. Looting crates (which appear as diamonds on your minimap) will also net you ammo, cash & sellable trinkets. Be sure to scale the many radio towers across the island too as these will open up more items & weapons for sale at the handful of stores you’ll discover on your bloody travels.

Farcry 3

Who needs Agent 47?

Take our advice, invest in a silenced weapon.  A silenced MP5 or pistol as well as the curved bow are a must for successfully surviving Vaas’s tropical nightmare. Un-silenced weapons will almost always bring a ton of pirates on your six. Using your blade-centric takedowns with a silenced weapon will ensure you won’t have to battle any uneven hordes on your travels. Having such an arsenal will also help you take out enemies around outposts & missions areas with minimal fuss & attention.

Count Those Bullets

This is not Bulletstorm or Call of Duty. Pop your Dishonored head on & you’ll be heading in the right direction. Open fire fights will burn up ammo like fuse paper so line up your headshots or go on a hunt for goat or deerskins which are perfect for crafting into extra bullet pouches. One shot weapons like sniper rifles, pistols & the curved bow are perfect for tracking those all-important headshots.

Farcry 3

Beware the Beasts of Rook Island

Remember, you’re just a man. And whilst carrying a gun may be as commonplace in gaming as jumping on platforms, it doesn’t make you the biggest threat on the island – at least not for a while anyhow.  The islands are brimming with nasties just waiting to steal your health bars, from tigers & wild dogs to bull sharks, vipers & alligators. As you dive into the many rivers, lakes & estuaries on the islands the tell-tale growl of an alligator as it breaks the surface is a sound you’ll never grow comfortable with. Break out the camera, keep low & check your map for areas tagged as predator hotspots.

And finally…Know your Skill Tree

Like so many modern games, Far Cry 3 comes complete with its own XP system and it’s one that will shape your journey through the games single-player experience. As you gain more XP you’ll unlock skill points which can be used to purchase new abilities – these then appear as tattoos on Jason’s arms. Be sure to pick the skills that suit your burgeoning play style – play to your strengths not what’s conventional for others. Upgrading your health will help you survive longer whilst abilities such as Takedown & Drag & Grenade Takedown are perfect for silent hunters & insane pranksters alike.

So pick up a copy of Far Cry 3 & remember, keep it infinite!

, , ,

Far Cry 3 is available now for PlayStation 3, PC & Xbox 360. Check out our Amazon links for more info. Our review for Far Cry 3 will be dropping soon.

Keep It Infinite & Win an Arkham City Steelbook Edition

Fancy winning a free game? ‘Course you do! Well we at infinite robots are getting that warm Christmas feeling a few weeks early, so we thought we’d give one of you lucky people an early Xmas present from us. And because we like to reward readers with such good taste in games websites, of course.

So, we’re giving away a steelbook edition (for Xbox 360) of arguably the best game of 2011 - Batman Arkham City (yes you read that right STEEL. No flimsy plastic cases here). It wowed critics & gamers alike when it did the impossible in producing a Batman experience far superior to 2009’s epic Arkham Asylum. Until Rocksteady release their Silver Age inspired prequel in the next year or two, Arkham City remains THE greatest superhero game on any console or platform. And it’s yours, for free on Xbox 360. Gratis.

Feast ‘yer eyes…

 

All you need to do to be in with a chance of winning this epic slice of Batman awesomeness is follow the following instructions:

  1. Follow us on Twitter @infiniterobots.
  2. Retweet our upcoming Arkham City competition tweet. So watch that feed!
  3. Cross your fingers.

We’ll be announcing the winner on Twitter next Sunday (9th December) so keep your eyes peeled for the chance to take Gotham by storm. So, what are you waiting for?

Keep it infinite!

Ten Reasons Why You Should Be Playing Hitman Absolution

In a month where both Call of Duty & Halo return to record-breaking sales, Square Enix & developer IO Interactive bravely released the first Hitman in six years. And despite some heavy-hitting competition Hitman Absolution has proved to be a slick piece of contracted fun.  So we’ve got ten reasons why should already be playing Agent 47’s latest kill-frenzy…

Stealth is the new black

There’s nothing wrong with a little mindless mayhem (and Hitman Absolution has plenty of it if you’re that way inclined) but nothing smacks of true predatory values like a silent kill. Whether it’s stalking your target in a crowd or watching from the shadows Absolution gives you the weapons, disguises & distractions to get the job done clean. Trust us, nothing says psychotic finesse like a little fibre-wire.

A smorgasbord of choice

Each mission of Absolution is split up into separate areas, with each one designed to cater to even the craziest of gaming tastes. Sure, you can move like a silent shadow & take your target with grace or you can rig their car with explosives & blow their atoms sky-high. By splitting each mission to bite-size portions might seem to fly in the face of some classic stealth games but even the smallest of areas can be a brutal killing ground for the inexperienced nube. Poison or gas explosion, the sick choice is yours!

The scores on the killing floor

Adding a little arcade flavour to the mix is the new in-game score system. Jettisoning the knock-on effect Notoriety system from 2006’s Blood Money was a good move on the part of IO Interactive as it finally lets players focus on each section of the mission to bag the best score. If you choose to go blundering in wielding you signature silenced Silverballers then your gung-ho technique will dock you points, whilst avoiding detection & killing your target in a creative or silent manner will build towards a final score that rises & falls with every action.

Killer instinct

Some fans have decreed the new Instinct system as a franchise killer but it adds a new level of situation management to the game. In the six years since Hitman Blood Money both Assassin’s Creed & Rocksteady’s Batman Arkham series have redefined what true hunters can do, so it’s no surprise IO Interactive took some slightly blatant cues from its new comrades. Instinct Mode is essentially Batman’s Detective Mode, letting you track NPCs through scenery & see their intended route with flaming trails. Silent kills & hiding bodies will replenish your Instinct which can then be used to fool enemies or take out multiple enemies a la Splinter Cell Conviction’s Mark & Execute system. Copied yes, but done with class.

A personal contract

The Hitman games have never been acclaimed for their narratives but Absolution manages to give enough exposition to justify each setting whilst not over-egging the story. The cut-scenes are beautifully animated & the voice-acting is decent enough to make a mockery of the dire Hitman movie a few years ago. And having veteran VO artist David Bateson reprise his role as 47 gives the oddly emotive story & gravitas other actors might have overdone.

Multiplayer (but not, but kind of)

Thankfully Hitman Absolution hasn’t taken a leaf out of Ubisoft’s book & shoehorned in an unbalanced set of multiplayer death matches. Instead Absolution presents Contracts. Taking its cues from the ‘Autolog’ style systems that are making the rounds across video games at the moment, Contracts lets you compete for the highest score on missions based on the different sections of the single-player campaign. You can even create your own missions to challenge your friends & foes with. Rather than asking you to build a map ‘Forge’ style, Contracts drops you into a location & lets you build the difficulty. You pick the targets, set the parameters & twist the rules. By completing the mission you prove it can be done with players from across the world taking on your record to earn cash for new weapons & disguises. Simple but so addictive it could claim you life.

“Hitman Absolution feels more like a Tarantino movie than a video game, dripping with style, class & bravado”

Higher difficulty done right

Some developers still struggle to get the distinction between difficulty levels, but Absolution proves that it’s not just about tougher enemies & less armour. As you progress from Easy to the brutal Purist setting, Absolution increases the reaction times of enemies, removes hints & removes Instinct regeneration. Normal & Hard become nothing more than training levels as you prepare for the onslaught of Professional & Purist. Legendary is for chumps.

Contract killing has never looked so good

The Xbox 360 & PlayStation 3 may be well into their twilight years but games like Absolution are determined to squeeze each consoles processor for all its worth. Absolution is easily one of the best looking games on either console to date. Amber sunsets bathe penthouses in a warm glow whilst neon signs sizzle in night-time rain fall, Absolution has that slick art style that makes it feel more like a Tarantino movie than a video game. The variation between traditional architecture of an orphanage with the neon playground of a strip club gives you just some idea of how stylistically confident this game is.

Hitman Absolution is all about giving players the tools to embrace the dark arts & become a sublime dealer of death”

Balanced achievements

Whilst achievements & trophies aren’t the be all and end of all of gaming, it doesn’t hurt to play a game that doesn’t short change you for ten hours of campaign dedication – Perfect Dark Zero this is not. Achievements are mostly based on certain milestones reached over the singe-player campaign whilst some tougher trophies will push you to complete replay the game with different playstyles to bag the full score. Complete the campaign & have a little ditty in Contracts & you’ll bag a well-earned 650g/70% of the Gamerscore on offer.

Who needs a white hood?

The exploits of Altair, Ezio & Connor may have become as synonymous with stealth gameplay as Solid Snake but Agent 47 has managed to strip back its experience to the truest principles of the genre. Whilst Assassin’s Creed 3 focused more on melee combat & aggressive actions, Hitman Absolution is all about giving players the tools to embrace the dark arts & become a sublime dealer of death. Fibre wire is the new hidden blade.

Picked up the new Hitman yet? If you’re not convinced keep an eye out for our upcoming review from Content Editor Dom Reseigh-Lincoln. Keep it infinite!

Halo 4 Crimson Map Pack

The first of three Halo 4 map packs will be released on the 10th December along with a new game type called ‘Extraction’. The Crimson Map pack will cost you 800 Microsoft points and will come with 8 new achievements at a total of 250 Gamerscore.

If you brought the ‘Limited Edition’ copy of Halo 4, or purchased the ‘War Games Map Pass’, you’ll get the option to download all 3 map packs in December, February and April.

Crimson map pack owners will also have exclusive access to a 6 vs 6 matchmaking playlist that will only feature the new maps.

Wreckage

Halo 4 Wreckage Halo 4 Wreckage

Wreckage is the manifestation of the chaos of war. A medium-sized, asymmetrical map great for accommodating a wide range of objective-based game modes including King of the Hill and Capture the Flag. It is a ravaged environment of crashed debris, where the surrounding destruction creates complex paths perfect for throwing off your opponents, or testing the limits of your Warthog. This devastated landscape provides plenty of cover, with tons of nooks and crannies at your disposal while fighting for your turn to become King. Wreckage supports up to 16 players in Infinity Slayer and up to 12 players in a variety of other modes, including Capture the Flag, King of the Hill and Oddball.

Harvest

Halo 4 Harvest Halo 4 Harvest

Harvest is a canon concept brought to life – the doomed agricultural planet where humans first made contact with the Covenant. A small to mid-size map, Harvest is ideal for Capture the Flag. Here, you’ll need to get creative to effectively use light vehicles which are limited to the exterior pathways and can’t get into the bases, making this map perfect for infantry firefights and face-to-face skirmishes. Snipers will also feel right at home; long sightlines are broken up by great cover and hiding spots. Harvest allows up to 12 players to face off in Capture the Flag, Infinity Slayer, King of the Hill, SWAT and Slayer Pro.

Shatter

Halo 4 Shatter Halo 4 Shatter

Shatter is themed around natural crystalline surfaces and the huge UNSC factories mining them. This large, symmetrical map is a playground for the Warthog and Mantis – its open pathways make it easy to get around, whether on foot or in vehicles. Shatter is a great fit for Dominion and the new game type Extraction. For some close-quarters face-time, escape the open landscape and duck into a mining facility, or slip through a doorway and hunt unsuspecting Spartans. Shatter enables multiplayer mayhem for up to 16 players in Infinity Slayer and up to 12 players in other modes, such as Capture the Flag, King of the Hill, Dominion and Extraction.

Extraction Game type

Extraction is a 5 vs 5 objective-based game type where opposing Spartan teams are tasked with extracting assets from various sites around the map. Once a team has found a site and is in position, they must plant their beacon and protect it from the opposing team while the extraction process occurs. If the defending team remains in control of the beacon, they receive one point, however if the opposing team overtakes the site before extraction is complete, the point goes to them. Once a site has been extracted, a new site becomes available. The first team to extract five points wins.