After a six-year absence (thanks, Kane & Lynch) and a poor film adaptation (thanks, Hollywood), Agent 47 made a triumphant return last week with Hitman: Absolution, an important installment for the stealth genre and a game we thoroughly enjoyed (read our review).
Absolution is just one step in the path forward for publisher Square Enix and developer IO Interactive. There’s interest in bringing out a new Hitman film and another video game installment is already in development, although for the first time at a different studio. Hitman: Absolution game director Tore Blystad compares the development to Activision’s schedule for developers Treyarch and Infinity Ward (and Sledgehammer Games and Raven Software).
A year ago this week Square Enix announced the opening of a new Montreal-based studio to bolster their presence in the area (with Eidos Montreal already there). Square Enix Montreal would be working on a new triple-A title: a new Hitman game. With the timing of that studio opening early this year and Hitman: Absolution just releasing last week, there’s an obvious overlap of production between IO Interactive completing Absolution and Square Enix Montreal working on the yet-to-be-revealed Hitman 6.
What does the developer switch mean for the style and story of the Absolution followup? According to Blystad, it will feature Agent 47 but it will be different.
“We’ve been talking about these similarities to some of the big movie franchise like Aliens, where everyone’s doing it their own way. Every time someone gets their hands on a franchise they do something different. So rather than doing the same thing again you get another take on the character from a fresh perspective.”
But will it still feel like Hitman?
“Well there are talks between us and of course it has to be somewhat in sync but it’s the first time you could say Hitman has gone out of the house. Luckily it’s with someone we know. Some of the key developers came from IO and have been working on previous games so it’s not like it’s in completely new hands.”
An immediate concern upon hearing this news is that Hitman would change, perhaps trading in stealth for action and losing its identity. With IO still involved, we can hope 47 returns with his suit and red tie, ready to trade it in for any disguise to eliminate his mark. With a new Splinter Cell on the way, another game with a storied past in the stealth genre, we wonder how its changes and reception next spring will affect the direction of the next Hitman.
Before IO began work on Kane & Lynch and its sequel, they developed a Hitman game for release every two years. With Square Enix Montreal now involved, we can expect a similar release schedule and potentially, Hitman 6 in the fall of 2014.
Follow Rob on Twitter @rob_keyes.
Source: OPM UK