The release of Hitman: HD Trilogy this week on PS3 and PlayStation Network brings Hitman: Blood Money onto the PlayStation format for the first time. With it come two additional classic Hitman games – Silent Assassin and Contracts.
More than anything else IO Interactive has created in the past decade and a half, Hitman has been the defining series for the studio. Five titles in the franchise have been released in the last 12 years, across most AAA platforms available within the same time period.
The combination of the assassin fantasy, game mechanics and freedom of choice makes the Hitman series the most original set of games we have made at IO. Nobody had ever really seen a game like Hitman before – not even the developers who were about to create it. It was a game about a stone-cold killer, but with tongue-in-cheek humour to balance the very mature themes in the game.
As Tore Blystad, Game Director on Hitman: Absolution, says: “When dealing with such a dark topic… you need something in there to compensate, to make it less cynical. In the start of Absolution development we tried to say that we wanted to make a serious game rather than a funny one, but within days the humour started creeping back into what we did, and instead of getting rid of it we decided to really embrace it for Absolution.”
In many ways, the inherent humour in the Hitman games has been there as a way to balance the very grim, mature themes in the games.
The Hitman games introduced a number of unique gameplay elements including a new type of artificial intelligence, the use of ragdoll physics and the disguise mechanism. Getting those things to work together in a complex system has always been a massive challenge. Crafting the open-ended missions of ‘Codename 47’ along with features such as sniping, disguises and hiding in plain sight took huge amounts of testing and risk-filled development.
The result of this development was a game that was extremely difficult to master, which became a staple of the series. The difficulty was made even more dominant by the fact that the team somehow forgot to include a save game feature for the first game, which meant the experience was a lot more punishing (and, it turned out, a lot more exciting) than most other games at that time. With the games that followed those mechanics and features were further refined.
And then there are all the Easter Eggs. Across all the games there are probably too many to count, but we’re guessing on average it’s probably around 25 in each game. Nobody is really sure because before Absolution, the artists and designers would simply sneak in the Easter Eggs and nobody would really know where they were or who put them there. With Absolution, it all became a little more structured and so things like the Loch Ness Monster, the wearable Blood Money masks, the disco cops, Mini Ninjas references and the appearances of both Kane and Lynch have all been tracked a little better.
One thing that newcomers to the Hitman experience will learn when playing the HD Trilogy is how versatile the different hits really are in these games. There was always a wish to have Agent 47 travel the world, meet interesting people and execute hits on them. So from Silent Assassin to Blood Money you get to go on a variety of different journeys.
Travel to St. Petersburg, attend the German ambassador’s party and assassinate a Russian general. Visit the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur and take out a Malaysian electronics tycoon in his Jacuzzi. Of course, there’s also the ‘Gator Gang’, a group of drug dealers moving their merchandise from a tourist riverboat on the Mississippi. And you can always finish off in style by saving the President of the United States, on 47’s hardest assignment yet!
Our hope with HD Trilogy is that fans will get to play their favourites over again, and those who just picked up Absolution and can’t get enough of Agent 47 can experience these classic moments for the first time.
Hitman: HD Trilogy will be available for PlayStation 3 later this week, priced £19.99/€29.99.