The Hitman series has been missing in action for about six years now. The last offering in the series was Hitman: Blood Money – adding a bit more to the layers of the complex, bald-headed assassin.
Luckily, during E3 2011, Hitman: Absolution was announced and looks to be taking the assassin a different direction.
Gameplay director, Christian Elverdam, talked to CVG regarding how AI and combat changes will be influencing the way in which Agent 47 tackles his new assignments.
Fans of the Hitman franchise will be familiar with the series mission formula. Find your target, get close to your target, and execute. Depending on the mission parameters, disguises might need to be utilized or, in later games, the death can look accidental. Hitman: Absolution will be making some changes to the formula with the aid of a brand new Glacier 2 engine, built from the ground up.
While we were at E3 2011, we had a chance to preview the new gameplay and see the new trailer that alludes to the kind of experience Absolution has to offer. According to Elverdam, the new AI will be far more nuanced than before.
“In the [E3] demo we have this hippy apartment and 47 comes in dressed as a police officer. Because these hippies don’t really care about the police, his disguise isn’t very effective.
“Their reaction to him as an officer isn’t to jump him; it’s to tell him to get out of the apartment, which is a new behavior system. Now, if you come to the apartment dressed in the default suit, these hippies will be friendly to you.
“Conversely, if you are confronted by a police officer, they won’t necessarily draw their gun and try to shoot you immediately, especially if they haven’t seen any killings going on.”
Hitman players know the pain of having to swap disguises repeatedly. In the context of the game, it can be argued that one disguise will be enough to get you in the door, but others will be required to progress throughout the area. Luckily, it sounds like the default suit and tie that 47 wears can still render him socially invisible to others. It sort of evokes a feeling from Michael Mann’s Collateral.
The changes aren’t just limited to NPC interaction, combat has undergone some work, as well. Through the inclusion of more improvised weapons and, as seen in the trailer, a more hands-on method of dispatching individuals, 47 will be able to handle himself in situations where stealth has failed and brawn has taken over.
“We also knew we’d have to be busy working on the feel of the aiming and shooting, and that’s very much a part of the new game.
“There’s now a cover system, which is obviously useful for combat. But we also worked hard to make sure it was useful for stealth, providing the player with fast avoidance situations. When enemies are in alerted states it can escalate to combat, but it can also go back to a hunting situation if you disengage from them.”
If you had a chance to play Splinter Cell: Conviction (which you should), Absolution sounds like it might be taking a page out of the former’s book – in terms of the hunted becoming the hunter.
A lot of development houses are working hard to enable players to jump into the shoes of a protagonist and know how to play – and be as badass. It sounds like IO Interactive has that on their agenda, especially since they do want Hitman: Absolution to appeal to a broader audience. Making changes like Elverdam is talking about is a great start.
Hitman: Absolution will be releasing in 2012 for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC.
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