As much fun as I had with “Dishonored,” the whole time I was playing it I found myself craving the classic stealth series “Thief.” Far from a knock, it’s a credit to “Dishonored” that it borrowed from a franchise that not enough have, as the “Thief” games, and their open approach to the stealth genre all set in a well fleshed out, and stylistically diverse world, are some of the most satisfyingly creative in all of video games.
Unfortunately since the release of 2004’s “Thief: Deadly Shadows,” the series has gone quiet, and except for a vague announcement around 2009 of a sequel, only rumblings of “Thief 4” have existed, as news of a new “Thief” installment has been somewhat appropriately elusive.
Now though, updates to the Linkedin profiles of a game developer and artist reveal recent work on an “Unannounced” and “really cool” project at Eidos Montreal. Outside of some work on the upcoming “Tomb Raider,” there are very few possible titles Eidos Montreal could be working on, and though “Thief 4” has had loose reveals before, and may not technically be classified as unannounced, considering that the logo for the game has been even floating on the Eidos Montreal website for some time without updates, the odds are still strongly in “Thief’s” favor that this pertains to real work finally being done on the dormant series.
This may just be a reach formed from desperate hope for a new “Thief” game causing people to see things that aren’t there, but gaming can always use another great stealth title, and if the revival of the “Thief” franchise can be handled with the same care seen in “Deus Ex: Human Revolution,” and make full use of the advancements since “Deadly Shadows,” then maybe the wait will have been worth it.
“Man’s mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions.”
-Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr. (physician, poet, professor, lecturer, and author)
I truly, truly hope that the above quote is correct because this week in video games we saw a case of a dangerous old way of thinking and a potentially new idea of thinking that if carried over to other projects, and taken in as a new idea, will stretch the limits of what we once believed to be standard, or even possible.
Ironically whereas “Hitman” is a game ideally about subtlety, and the art of skill, it’s story has all of the approach and delivery of a blunt hammer to the face delivered by a laughing lunatic. On the other hand, a game like “The Walking Dead” (which often asks the player to smash something in the head with a blunt object) delivers a tale so refined that we must now be careful how we speak of other game’s stories while praising them so we don’t accidentally lump them in the same league with “The Walking Dead” and therefore lose perspective.
“Hitman” is a dangerous game, and I’m not talking about the controversy surrounding the sexy nun enemies, or the general violence of the title. Instead it’s a dangerous game because of its disgusting and obvious story and stroytelling that,despite a couple of here and there moments of quality dialogue, fails to inspire a moment of emotional reaction, whatever that emotion may be . Whereas previous games in series wisely shunned a grand plot in favor of environment and mood as the larger themes, “Absolution” tries to go another route by making its presentation more of a high production, low grade movie. It’s every effort in that respect is so insultingly awful, it is the first game that should have not received the traditional M rating, but rather IM for “immature”.
Didn’t think that was funny? Well now you know how I feel as I tried to suffer through some of the most horrid attempts at sexual references, characters, plot, and of course comedy that have ever graced video games. It’s not even the content I’m against, but instead the delivery. It aims for Guy Ritchie, Robert Rodriguez, and Quentin Tarantino, and instead ends up with an effort more in line with the works of Roger Corman. The only difference was Corman’s schlock knew it was bad and had a sense of style about it, whereas “Hitman: Absolution” seems either unaware of how bad its bad really is, or otherwise doesn’t give a damn and couldn’t be bothered to make what’s there work.
“The Walking Dead” on the other hand? Don’t be surprised if the fifth and final episode in the game’s first season just won the series overall game of the year honors, as its use of characters and plot, and more importantly the player’s involvement in those aspects, is nothing short of revolutionary. The game works off of the same promise of “Mass Effect” or a TV show like “The Wire” where all the pieces supposedly matter, and what you do in the end will be just a reflection of the steps you took to get there.
Unlike “Mass Effect” though, but much like “The Wire”, “The Walking Dead” achieves this as suddenly your choices do come to bear upon you as you now are faced with the prospect of facing the tough moments that defined your journey in a fresh light, and only in the end when you see the ramifications of them are you given the gift of hindsight that allows you to regret, smile upon, and always question your choices, as the end results, and your reactions to them, give you something that few games ever have, and that is a better sense of who you are, and the person you’d maybe rather try to be.
Does a game like “Hitman” have to do the same? Well it would be nice, but that’s not the point. The point is that a title like that handles its story with a dangerous indifference can no longer be accepted. This is not the NES where a brief kidnapping of your girlfriend by some thugs leads to all the motivation you need to reach a single frame resolution and expect satisfaction. You don’t have to have a masterpiece story, but don’t try to pass an entire adventure that is framed by the mentality of the average thirteen year old boy, and done with all of the effort exhibited by the average two year old boy, and honestly tell yourself it is the best you can do without expecting to receive both the mixed reviews and mainstream public backlash you are getting now.
And if you do decide to be dumb and lazy in the same week, whatever you do don’t release that high profile game at the same time as a title that provides a blueprint for the future of the medium and expect to save face in the minds of either your peers, your critics, or your fans
That, and I’m sure the creators of “Hitman: Absolution” can understand this, would just be silly.
I always love it when a franchise that you wouldn’t think is equipped for multiplayer introduces it in a surprising and innovative way that maintains the ideas and style of the single player experience. Examples would be the always brilliant, always fun Merc vs Spy gameplay from “Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory,” or the brilliant Assassins vs Assassins mode in “Assassins Creed: Brotherhood.” It’s a tough road to go down though, as it requires some real thought and commitment to making the mode work. The other option is to just go the candy bar route of games like “Max Payne 3,” “Uncharted,” or “Bioshock 2” and just tack on a shanty deathmatch mode.
I say candy bar because it’s a route that’s often satisfying, but rarely filling (Snickers non-included).
As a fan of the “Hitman” series, I was thrilled then to read about the new multiplayer mode in “Hitman Absolution,” which puts players in a dungeon master type role by allowing them to design a contract assassination challenge for other players. The creator can take one of the game’s single player levels, and modify it to include the targets (of which they can set the number) and other parameters that may include things like no disguises, or a limited number of kills, or even a rough guideline of certain NPC actions.
Touting their own cleverness, though, the developers have assured everyone that even the most seemingly complex and limiting contracts will have several ways to be completed, even if some are better than others, just as in the main game. Even better is the expansive leaderboard system which keeps track of three different rankings (richest assassin, most skillful assassin, and a running ranking of the most popular contracts).
Between that and the previously announced “Crysis 3” multiplayer mode, it’s also promising that the new trend in even the most established of franchises seems to be thinking outside of the box when it comes to multiplayer expansion, instead of slapping a deathmatch option on said box, and calling it a sequel.
I guess that’s my awkward way of saying, hint, hint Rockstar and “GTA: V.” Hint, hint.
Deus Ex was a huge part of my upbringing in video games. Needless to say, I was thrilled when Eidos announced Deus Ex 2. Even though the game was a bit of a letdown, I have high hopes for Deus Ex 3. The game could be incredible if Eidos just returns to the roots of the original. Honestly, I would take Deus Ex with updated graphics.
Eidos leaked two screenshots this week that have me more than a little concerned. The first shot is just a lighter. The second, that same lighter…wait for it…lighting a cigarette! How cool is that? You’re right, it’s not. Not at all. This is about the worst screenshot leak I’ve seen. Does the lighting look good? Of course it does, but there are hundreds of ways to show off cool lighting. Remember the first trailer for Black? That thing rocked, at a time when graphics on the Xbox were just starting to get decent.
The one saving grace is that the Eidos Community Guy that posted the screens said, “I can’t say a darn thing about this other than people who like to go into details will shortly have some new material to dissect.” Let’s hope it’s something good.
You may have heard news regarding Square Enix’s recent acquisition of famed publisher, Eidos. Well today it became official, with a full dissolution of the Eidos brand and the birth of Square Enix Europe. It’s an underwhelming name if you ask me. I hope they change it.
The new company is basically Eidos vets, with some European sales and marketing folks from Square Enix land. CEO Phil Rogers was picked to head the new branch, which is nice considering the route other mergers have taken of late. Stateside, Eidos’ North American marketing, sales and distribution operations been given to John Yamamoto, who heads our own Square Enix division.
Even though they decided to let the top dog from Eidos keep his position, some other folks won’t be so lucky. “Unfortunately we are expecting some jobs to be impacted directly by this in both Europe and North America,” an Eidos spokesperson said. “We are hoping to minimize this wherever possible and offer support and advice to any employees directly affected.”
Best of luck to the folks who will be searching for new jobs. Coming from a place like Eidos, it shouldn’t be too tough to get something together.