Plug & Play
It’s hard to believe that the Hitman series has survived for the best part of 14 years. 2000’s Hitman: Codename 47 introduced its bald, smartly dressed assassin (simply known as Agent 47), who’s since gunned his way through four sequels and even a movie adaptation starring Timothy Olyphant.
The run-up to the launch of the previous game in the series. Hitman: Absolution, was mired by a controversial trailer featuring a group of gun- wielding nuns in latex, which courted no small amount of controversy for its perceived sexism and violence. Then there was an equally ill-advised assassination-themed Facebook app, which lo was quickly forced to withdraw.
Those missteps aside, Hitman: Absolution was greeted by cautiously positive reviews, and while lo Interactive’s stealth shooter was not without its flaws – including a frankly bizarre plot and a more linear approach to map design – it was good looking and varied, with stealth missions giving way to outright action to help keep things fresh.
There was a gap of six years between Absolution and the previous Hitman game, Blood Money, but it seems that lo Interactive has no intention of making the series’ fans wait for a further sequel. In an open letter published on the Hitman website on 16th January, lo officially announced that it was working on a new entry in the series.
This ended several months of speculation over the status of the game, as rumours broke earlier in the month that the project had been cancelled.
“Right now, we are building the next AAA Hitman game for PC and next-gen consoles,” the letter read. “In the next game you will experience a globetrotting Agent 47 at the prime of his career – the apex predator stalking his prey across the world, with the support of his long-term handler Diana Burnwood and the whole of the ICA.”
So much for the story, but how will lo further the game itself? After all, Absolution’s changes to the Hitman formula didn’t sit particularly well with some critics. The answer, according to lo, is to build on the platform provided by Absolution, while at the same time delving back into earlier games like Contracts and the particularly well-received Blood Money for fresh inspiration. lo has promised “open, nonlinear level design” with “huge, checkpoint-free sandbox levels”. The new game will also see the return of Contracts Mode, which will again allow players to build and share their own missions, while the developer also states that, “we have removed 47’s magic pockets”.
The aim, then, appears to be to bring long-time players of the Hitman series more of the tough, open-ended gameplay that marked out the earlier games in the series. It’s still early days for the next Hitman – its proper title hasn’t even been announced yet – but lo has promised to reveal more in the coming months.
You can keep up to date on lo’s progress at www.hitman.com.
You may remember that a few weeks ago we took our first look at Hello Games’ astonishingly ambitious space combat game No Man’s Sky. With a cunning use of procedural generation allowing the tiny developer to create an entire galaxy of planets with their own climates and life forms, the game’s an exciting and radical departure from its previous hit.
You may also remember, however, that Hello Games was the unfortunate victim of an unnatural disaster. Over the festive period, its Guildford offices were engulfed by several feet of water, destroying much of its computers and other valuable office equipment. Worse still, the team tweeted, its insurers were refusing to pay up. This unpleasant act of God left many wondering how No Man’s Sky had been affected – an answer Hello Games was unable to give us until relatively recently.
In a 15th January blog post, Hello’s Sean Murray provided an update on the studio’s status and revealed that, although the impact of the flood was severe, No Man’s Sky won’t be delayed. “At times recently I’ve wanted to be depressed, to wallow, but it’s impossible surrounded by this
team,” Murray wrote. “They are literally unstoppable.”
Miraculously, Murray and his team managed to rebuild a temporary office from scratch and then launch Joe Danger Infinity, the latest iteration of its furiously addictive platform driving game for Mac, PC and mobile devices. Understandably, the better Joe Danger Infinity does, the easier the process of
getting No Man’s Sky back on track becomes – and while the flood damage was undeniably a setback, Murray remains as optimistic about his game’s possibilities as ever.
In an interview with Edge magazine, Murray spoke a little more about the shared virtual universe he’s creating. It’ll be a place, he says, where players will discover new worlds for themselves and upload the data they find on those planets to an online star map – thus contributing to players’ growing understanding of what life forms and minerals lie in wait on the edges of the cosmos.
“When you [discover something] you can upload what you found to what is effectively a star map and an encyclopaedia of knowledge/’ Murray said. “And people would then be able to find those things much more quickly and progress forward.”
Murray also admits that there’ll be the possibility that players won’t necessarily work together for the common good – so planets with something particularly unique or valuable on them might be kept hidden from other players by those unwilling to share, for example – but this will all be part of a game where everything’s constantly in a state of flux, and where every session’s experience is different.
Can the finished MMO possibly match the scale of the team’s ambition? Whether it does so or not, it sounds like a refreshingly different, even experimental, game concept.
You can keep up to date with No Man’s Sk/s development at www.hellogames.org.
We’re only a few weeks into the new year, but we’d wager that Octodad: Dadliest Catch will be among the weirdest games of 2014. Aside from the strange premise (you play the father to a human family who are blissfully unaware that you’re an octopus in a suit), there’s the mechanics themselves. Essentially a simple adventure puzzler, Octodad’s objectives are made more tricky by a wilfully complex control system, which involves controlling each of the character’s limbs independently. It’s the sort of game that could have some players smashing their keyboards in fury, but it’s also the sort of thing that could soon become a cult classic.
Octodad: Dadliest Catch is out on 30th January.