Home > Gaming, News (Gaming) > Gaming: Assassin’s Creed II – “Hitman is just about game parts”

Gaming: Assassin’s Creed II – “Hitman is just about game parts”

Wikipedia fact: "A young Leonardo da Vinci is recreated within the game, as an aid to the player who provides a host of weapons and contraptions available for use. At one point in the game, the player can access Leonardo's flying machine which he actually built, keeping airborne using thermals from fires lit by friends gathered previously in the game."

Wikipedia fact: "A young Leonardo da Vinci is recreated within the game, as an aid to the player who provides a host of weapons and contraptions available for use. At one point in the game, the player can access Leonardo's flying machine which he actually built, keeping airborne using thermals from fires lit by friends gathered previously in the game."

I have a particular fondness for the Hitman games. I love that after choosing your weapons you’re just set loose in a small sandbox environment, with your target(s) in there somewhere, going through several routines, and you’re free to be as patient as possible and figure out the perfect stealthy approach (setting up accidents, concealing the body) or just go through as messily as you like, broadcasting to everybody that the target was murdered.

For me that’s kind of my ideal for stealth/assassination gameplay, and I was quite disappointed by Assassin’s Creed‘s approach which, despite being a sandbox game in most other respects, went in the opposite direction for the actual assassinations. Most knew you were coming and triggered special events, there were all sorts of forced stops while you listened to them, you had to kill them with the blade to have a long chat so Altair could moralise at them, it always triggered guard alerts…

I really did like the game, but would have loved to have more freedom. You could have targets going about their business in the city with guards rather than always confined in their set bases, maybe occasionally having moments of privacy where you can wait and kill them unnoticed. You could set up traps in the streets, rile a mob into attacking so that you can slip in and kill the target while the guards are distracted, you could snipe them with a crossbow from your vantage point on the rooftops, and so on. There’s lots of potential for an assassination game in a sandbox city environment, especially when the setting isn’t a modern one where you can just rely on sniper rifles and explosives.

It did make me wonder if the developers at Ubisoft were aware of the Hitman games, especially when the (admittedly fantastic) E3 footage seemed to show that the game will still play very similarly to Assassin’s Creed:

As you can see from the footage, it has Ezio flying into his destination on a glider, visible to all the guards, before landing dramatically, immediately alerting the target, killing him up close so he could talk to his target, and then having to escape the wave of guards triggered, which seemed to be the only way that entire sequence could be played (especially as the YouTube video above and the almost identical E3 footage seem to be separate playthroughs). However, my question was answered in this Assassin’s Creed II interview with producer Sébastien Puel and creative director Patrice Desilets, specifically this bit near the end:

An example comes courtesy of the poison blade, an item which turns bodyguards into berserk slayers intent on killing anyone in their path before expiring. Poison blades are in.

Poisoned cakes, rigged barbecues and deadly fugu are not. This still isn’t Hitman and, in Desilets’s mind if not everybody else’s, that’s for a good reason. “Hitman has nothing to do about the fantasy of playing as a Hitman. It’s just about playing a videogame. I have a problem with games when I see their fantasy but I have to play the videogame and the corresponding set of rules.

“I remember when we were doing Sands Of Time and in similar games all the platforming ingredients were shiny and totally different from the rest of the world. We decided ‘no, a pole should be a pole. It should be an architectural element, not a videogame pole’. From that point I’ve tried to hide videogame moments as much as possible. In the first Assassin’s Creed we maybe went too far with that experiment. Now we’ve struck a balance where the game elements exist, but the immersion of the world is much more important than those game parts. Hitman, well, Hitman is just about game parts. It’s fun, you’ll definitely have fun, but you won’t play the Hitman fantasy.”

Yet IO and Agent 47 have, in their own ways, made an impression here. Ezio owns a family villa in the city of Monteriggioni, located deep in the Tuscan countryside. Upon first sight it’s a ruin, but monetary investment soon boosts the city’s economy and generates a regular income, albeit one that’s capped to prevent Fable II-style gold hoarding. Pictures of slain enemies decorate the villa walls as Ezio’s story gathers bloodied momentum, as will paintings and weapons purchased from city vendors. Ezio isn’t a pack mule, and with over 30 weapon types available, plus equipment upgrades, the storage space is welcome.

Putting aside that he’s comparing his next-gen sequel in his next-gen series to a decade-old last-gen series with no real current next-gen entry, there is some promise in there (and the interview as a whole says lots of the right things about how they’ve realised where the first game went wrong), but it does sound like they’re only grudgingly including a few “game parts” to placate those who didn’t buy into their cinematic vision. So at the moment Assassin’s Creed II looks set to be an excellent game, but not my medieval sandbox Hitman.

Image Source: Eurogamer

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