Get ready to don a fancy suit, shave your head and scribble a barcode into the back of your head, as Agent 47 returns later this year in Hitman: Absolution. It’s been quite a few years since we’ve last stepped into the shoes of the modern day assassin, and in that time period, we’ve seen quite a few games pop up that have reinvented and revitalised the stealth action genre.
Hopefully Absolution will take a few cues from those titles when polishing up the final product, as well as tossing in a few new ideas itself, but one area that the developers are keen on tuning up, has to be the AI components.
“We’ve been developing this game for a long time, and it’s very much linked to the technology, especially creating more complex, more believable artificial intelligence,” lead producer Hakan Abrak told the US PS Blog.
Early on, we knew we couldn’t achieve our ambitions with the older Glacier 1 engine, so we decided to create Glacier 2. It’s a huge challenge to create new game technology, but it brought a lot of benefits.
One other aspect that developer IO Interactive have mentioned improving on before, are the gameplay paths that a player can take, allowing for them to decide whether they want to approach a mission with stealth or baysplosions.
Voyeurism has always been a key storytelling focus in Hitman, and we still have a lot of these small stories peppered throughout the game. It’s where a lot of the replayability comes in, actually.
If you go into the game guns blazing, you’ll get a unique experience, but if you’re stealthy and explore more thoroughly, you’ll learn a lot more about the world and characters by overhearing conversations and the like.
Clearly favouring the stealth aspect of assassinations in Absolution will also allow for players to become more involved with the storyline, as they’ll be able to use their new disguise skills and the Instinct ability to drop in on conversations and eavesdrop, while a new “Geiger Meter” feature informs them when they’re about to be spotted.
“When you’re making a stealth game, it’s important to find new ways to build tension. We built a lot of prototypes for Hitman: Absolution, and we learned that creating a ‘Giger counter’ effect was a very effective way to communicate that the player is about to get spotted, you’d better move,” Abrak said.
In earlier games, it could be frustrating because you didn’t know when an enemy was about to spot you. And that ‘Giger counter’ effect has the bonus effect of making you squirm when you play, it builds more tension. I find myself saying ‘ooh! ooh! ooh!’ when I’m sneaking around.
I’m looking forward to a new AI system that doesn’t decide to derp around when things go south, and having a more cunning enemy coming after a player will make for a great challenge when Hitman: Absolution launches sometime next year.
Last Updated: January 19, 2012