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Hitman Absolution preview: How user-generated content extends the life of the game

Infinite number of 47's doing infinite murder

For the final part of their Hitman Absolution jigsaw, developer IO has decided to draw inspiration from the Choose Your Own Adventure books so beloved of kids in the '90s. Except instead of a choice between investigating the noises from the basement, now you can decide whether you want the police captain to be garrotted with fibre-wire or the drug dealer to have his skull spilt open with a high-calibre bullet.

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And it's probably best not to narrate one of these player-made tales to the kids before bed.

"Things get tricky, and we end up with half the town dead after a shoot-out with a SWAT team. Failure"

Called Contracts mode, it's the road taken instead of shoehorning competitive multiplayer into the game. And it's set to extend and enhance your Absolution experience in terms of both mission quantity and difficulty, by harnessing the (slightly twisted) imaginations of the series' devoted fans. It's also something that holds appeal for both creator and player, because in Contracts those two things are one and the same - rather than a traditional level editor, here you design your mission by doing it yourself.

Contracts are much like hits in single-player: they take place in the same locations, and involve 47 making sure some poor sap has eaten his last hot dinner. But there are a few key differences: not only can each Contract contain up to three assassination targets, but any NPC is a possible mark. And to add an extra layer of complexity and competitiveness, you can include a number of different criteria for how you want your Contract to be completed.

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So, if you want players to remain unnoticed, carefully dispose of all bodies, and kill your chosen targets in a certain order, then that's exactly what you need to do when playing the level to create it. If you want them to use only a pair of scissors while wearing chef's whites, so be it - but you first. As you play to create, the way you do so dictates your desired playstyle for those who attempt your Contract once it's published online. As gameplay director Christian Elverdam says: "You change how the level plays, what it's about, the pacing, which route you take - all of that is defined by what targets you choose for other players."

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