With any luck, I’ll be uncomfortably busy come the end of November. I’ll have to start studying for exams around that time, but I’ll also have Hitman: Absolution to play after its November 20th release… Wait, that’s the same day as Persona 4… Okay, I guess I’ll be extremely uncomfortably busy come the end of November.
It’s been over six years since Agent 47’s last outing in Hitman: Blood Money, and IO Interactive are hard at work to bring you a title that will make the wait seem worth it. Unfortunately, in spacing out releases so much, it can sometimes be difficult to keep a franchise relevant, as it has those missed years of gaming innovations to catch up with. One of these, of course, is in the telling of a story within your game.
A lot has changed in regards to cutscenes over the last half-decade. Techniques and presentation have evolved to the point where watching cutscenes from old games – like Blood Money, for example – is almost laughable. It isn’t just graphical advancement we’re talking about: the manner in which character motions are captured has also changed. Motion-capture studios have made it possible to make characters in-game move, act and react just as a person would in real life, adding a layer of (subtle) immersion to your standard cinematic.
In their behind the scenes vignette simply titled ‘Storytelling,’ IO has offered us a look at what goes on behind the sound-proofed walls in LA’s Giant Studios, showing us some of their motion-capture actors at work. Although, based on what you see and hear in this short footage, perhaps the term ‘motion-performance’ would be more apt: the actors are recording their motions and voices at the same time, which is heartening to see: full-on motion performance always makes characters more believably, because the disconnect between motion and dialogue isn’t so overt, if it’s there at all.
The IO folks also talk about some of the techniques they used in making their cutscene, going so far as to employ some old film-making standbys from classical movie days to give the storytelling even more subtle appeal. They’ve even put extra attention to detail in the outfits the characters wear, and the locations they interact in. It sounds for all the world as though IO is trying their damnedest to make Hitman: Absolution the most memorable of the series, in terms of story and presentation, which is definitely a plus.
I know that, often, people hear how developers try to make their cutscenes as cinematographic as possible, and get upset, as it’s a game they’re talking about, so promoting non-interactive areas seems counter-intuitive. But I really believe that cutscenes, well-made and properly presented, can be just as important to the gaming experience as the gameplay itself. If this little taste is any indication, IO will be hitting that well-made and properly presented mark just fine when the game releases.