Contract Killer: IO Interactive talks Hitman Absolution

Published on January 11th, 2012

Contract Killer: IO Interactive talks Hitman Absolution

As Agent 47 polishes his Silverballers and stretches out his fiber wire ready for his next mission, we catch up with ’s Gameplay Director Christian Elverdam to discuss the story and significant changes found in this year’s stealth-action hit.

GamerZines: Just to clarify, does Hitman Absolution open with the player killing Diana?

Christian Elverdam, Gameplay Director, Hitman Absolution: That’s true.

GZ: That’s a brave thing to do at the beginning of the game.

Christian Elverdam: We knew this time it was going to be a more personal journey for 47, and that is probably as personal as you can get for him. Much of the game is about figuring out what happened and what’s going on. Diana immediately points 47 to this girl called Victoria, who at this point from what we’re showing, we don’t know who she is, but it becomes quite evident that other people are looking for her as well, and that’s why you see some of the other main antagonists in the game.

GZ:  With Diana gone, can you tell us about some of the other characters players will see in the game?

Christian Elverdam: You see Blake Dexter, this self-made industrialist who is after Victoria. One of his guys called Wade who goes to the Rosewood Orphanage to grab Victoria.

GZ: Neither of the missions we’ve seen so far have been typical of Hitman. The E3 demo showed 47 escaping from a library, while this one sees him attempting to rescue a child from an orphanage under attack. What kind of missions can players expect in Absolution?

Christian Elverdam: There are a lot of details I can’t touch upon this early on, but what you’re seeing are portions of levels. We’re not necessarily showing how they start or how they end. Obviously you still have targets in Absolution, but we’re allowing ourselves to set the stage a little differently as to the classic formula of surveying an area and killing your target. Now it’s more dictated by the story as to what happens and exactly how it happens.

GZ:  As a fan of the previous Hitman games, I’ve often found myself going back to specific missions and attempting to clear them without being spotted, or replaying them just for their charm and character. If everything’s woven into one overarching narrative where – as you say – the gameplay is dictated to more by the story than the player’s decisions, could that affect the replay factor that fans expect?

Christian Elverdam: You’ll still be (replaying levels) in Absolution. What we showed today was quite a simple little level, but there were quite drastic outcomes depending on how you play it. In a more general sense we have a lot of different checkpoints and way of building levels, so yeah, you’ll be replaying the game quite a bit. And if you’re going for the Silent Assassin achievement you will have to, because you have to learn each step of the level and know exactly what’s going on. That in itself requires replay. We’ve been focussing on that quite a bit.

GZ: What locations and set-ups can players expect to see?

Christian Elverdam: At E3 you saw the derelict library and the rainy Chicago rooftop setting. That also ended up teasing a train station. Today you saw the Rosewood Orphanage and we have a lot of variation in the rest of the game. There are quite a few locations and they’re not very similar.

GZ: Is every level set within Chicago?

Christian Elverdam: The game is set within the United States. That’s all we’re sharing at this point.

GZ: Why was Agent 47′s original voice actor David Bateson dropped for Hitman Absolution? That seems to be a big discussion point between fans.

Christian Elverdam: That’s not actually something I can really talk to you about. I don’t.. yeah. That’s not really.. I’m sorry. If you want to talk about the fans, I think we are really happy about our fanbase. They are quite vocal and they are extremely loyal – they’ve been around for ages. They care so much about the next game that they’re really concerned about a lot of stuff. I’m actually not that worried about it. We have a lot of user tests at IO and also in the States where we aim to get a lot of different people in there; people who have never played Hitman games, people who have never heard of Hitman, and also a lot of long-term fans. They play the game and give us feedback, so we’re very much in touch with the different expectations.

GZ:  Have you been happy with the feedback so far?

Christian Elverdam:For us, E3 was just about being back. We didn’t know what to expect and we were overwhelmed by how much positive feedback we got from just being there, showing the game and the engine. It’s still early for us. We have quite a lot of stuff to talk about obviously: the levels, the locations etc. This time it’s about showing 47 and what he can do; close combat, shooting, throwing weapons, using the toy robot for distractions or as a weapon. As the campaign continues we’ll be showing more of the game.

GZ: Why is the successor to Hitman Absolution being developed by a different studio, and has that decision had a negative impact at IO?

Christian Elverdam: We’re very proud of Hitman Absolution. It’s a big effort at IO. It’s the biggest game we’ve ever built. The Montreal studio opening up is simply great news for the franchise. It’s because we actually want to be able to provide more Hitman games, and I think it’s fairly typical in the industry that some top-tier products get created by more than one studio. So that’s why it’s happening. Expect more Hitman games, I think that’s the message.

GZ:  Is Square Enix planning on annualising Hitman?

Christian Elverdam: That’s way too specific to talk about.

GZ:  What is Hitman: Profession?

Christian Elverdam: Oh! Again, that’s one thing I really can’t talk about. I appreciate you asking, but I can’t.

Hitman Absolution launches on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC later this year. Look out for more of our interview with Christian in an upcoming issue of 360Zine.

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