There are few memories as cherished in the world of gaming as your firsts. Be it of the Turismo variety, jumping on Goomba’s heads or realizing Japan is a place, these important milestones can create the frame work for the eventual gaming niche you cling to as expendable income increases.
The Hitman franchise already has a place in the pantheon of gaming as it offers a unique sandbox style system of play that puts the player in control of a master web. With every plunk of the string, another mechanism of death begins. The latest iteration in the Hitman analogy is meant to be a game that hearkens back to older games in the franchise that offered individualized mission based play-style that followed a simple strategy. Find person, Kill person, Repeat in fun ways.
Creative Director Christian Elverdam has joined the program to talk about the game and why this new episodic release system will create a better overall experience.
The game has been out for several weeks now, well when saying the game is out, the first level is available. IO Interactive is adopting a new style of episodic development. That means with your initial 15 dollar purchase you get the first episode of what Hitman will eventually be.
The includes a few training missions and a single level. Elverdam claims this new approach will ultimately give you a better game.
First of all, this is what we intended to begin with, that you can just jump in and try it. And just figure out if the game is something for you or not.
Because we realize that were trying something bold and new in that regard and that will always leave some people saying “I don’t know”. We also said that eventually there will be a disc. If you are more that kind of “player” I think for me personally on a creative level, what we did with the episodic format or with the story telling of a TV serious. We managed to create Agent 47 in a world where you tell a story that makes sense to him.
If you’ve had a chance to play the initial game release then you already know, it doesn’t play as well as it should. Many of the internal system are buggy but the most grievous slight is the Servers. After spending nearly an hour trying to kill Viktor in the most creative way possible, I was kicked out of the game because of server issues.
Elverdam claims that this new release system (despite what we’ve seen so far) will ultimately create a more cohesive story:
“The reason why episodic works, if you compare to other known characters, Agent 47 is a very minimalist guy. And how people see you, our fans love him as this blank canvas. If we try to apply a normal cinematic from a Hollywood movie. You have this hero’s journey where the hero undergoes certain ordeals and over comes his enemies he challenges himself and comes out on the other side as a better and changed person.”
Likening the game system to a TV series is bold but from a gameplay perspective it’s hard to see how you can really evolve. Good TV series use each episode to give us not only a fuller picture, but inform us better on what we’ve already seen. Elverdam again, has an answer for this concern, citing the much hailed but seldom used Contract’s mode:
“We have this concept of allusive targets that appear inside a level and are only there for a limited amount of time. And in that time frame you have to take them out. In that thinking, our game isn’t only episodic, its actually a live game. We have all sorts of different contracts appearing in the world at regular inter-voles. You are challenged to do things in the levels. And in that sense I think the story is a good way to motive what’s going on in the game. But you aren’t on the spot to remember what happens.”
For most players, the system so far seems to have fallen flat.
After spending inside of a week with the game I found myself wanting more, especially when it came to a story. The TV style system of decimalization can work but only if there’s enough plot to go on.
In the Paris mission, after completing nearly every Challenge, Contract, Game Mode I still only had a cursory understand of the stakes for Agent 47 and his world. Which makes sense, since I essentially was just given the first episode of a miniseries.
But Game of Throne’s isn’t released an episode a month, neither should Hitman. We’ll let Christian have the last word, do you think IO has achieved what they set out to do?
So if you think about what’s going on with all the TV series out there, one of the things that I think is a good example would be Sherlock Holmes. The sort of, super well known detective, this guy is as well a psychopath and you love to see him solve mystery and part of the excitement is every episode would be a new mystery to solve. Not so much the plot you need to follow but the mystery and watching him work and you don’t expect Sherlock to change as a character that much, you just love to see him deal with the pressure and then around him you have interesting characters like Dr. Watson or Moriarty.
In fact without Moriarty, Sherlock feels like his life has no meaning anymore because he thrives for that. And I think that analogy is really good with Agent 47 as well. He is the master of the craft called in to eliminate this high profile targets that no one else can get to. And that’s the excitement for the player that every episode is a target and it’s a new location in the world. Just being fascinated by Agent 47 doing that. And then what were also doing is reintroducing new characters that will create this overarching story for him to take part in. And it feels way better for us when we tell stories of Agent 47 that way.