NYCC Hands-On Impressions: Hitman: Absolution and Tomb Raider
Hands-on with two of the hottest NYCC playable demos.
Metal Arcade was invited to the NYCC press room set up by Square Enix to showcase mobile titles Wizardlings, Quirkle, and Motley Blocks. While there, we were able to check out demo packages for the upcoming Hitman: Absolution and Tomb Raider without having to bump elbows with the convention crowd. Much appreciated! I also took the liberty to explore the incredible booth exhibit at the convention. We’ll be covering the different aspects of Square Enix’s presence at NYCC in three parts. In this post, we’ll cover the releases for consoles and PC: Hitman: Absolution and Tomb Raider. In future posts, we’ll discuss the mobile platform releases, and finally, the highly photogenic toy figurine lineup displayed in their booth.
While I highly enjoy watching other people play these types of games, I am absolutely no good at playing games where you have to sneak around and kill people without being spotted. The couple of times I played the demo, I always manhandled the supposedly subtle situation and the “silent assassin” scenario ended up turning into a multiple-target shooting spree. Fun.
Witnessing more skilled players go through the demo gave me a better impression of how this game is supposed to go. The most noticeable aspect was how no two play-throughs worked out exactly the same way. The human targets and NPCs are smart and dynamic, having conversations with each other as you hide in a bush around the corner (which served to stall you from just jumping out and knifing one of them in the back) and different walking paths for their patrols after every restart. They even talk to each other about where you might be hiding. But, no worries! Agent 47 has a variety of techniques for killing and subterfuge to choose from to accomplish his missions. The environments are built in such a way where the hitman can pick up several objects, like a garrote, knives, bricks, mugs, or the Holy Bible for murder weapons. These can be used to eliminate enemies by sneaking up on their backs and choking, stabbing or bludgeoning them to death. To blend into the setting, he also has the option of taking out NPCs for their clothing and going into disguise. Nobody notices the gardener. Going with hand-to-hand combat is always on the table as well as being able to eliminate multiple bogies using Point Shooting, made possible by IO Interactive’s internal engine. This enables you to stop time and pinpoint targets at your leisure. When time gets going again, Agent 47 starts to unload lead at people’s heads before they can even draw weapons. Very cool.
Hitman: Absolution is slated for release on November 20th, 2012 and promises be a great game for fans of this franchise or genre.
Lara Croft was the subject of my teenage affections from the time she first graced television screens via the Playstation console. When I found out I’d be able to try out a playable demo for NYCC, in a private press room at that, I got excited.
The new Tomb Raider release is expected to hit stores on March 5, 2013 for Playstation 3, XBox 360, and PC. After what I’ve seen playing the demo, I cannot wait to hear the rest of her story.
Square Enix has always shined at storytelling. They know they have access to the best resources in gaming technology, all of which are nothing without a good story. Even though the demo was short, with a playtime of about ten to fifteen minutes, I was quickly immersed in the great character development, experiencing the early life of the protagonist. Since the upcoming title is set at a time before she ever considered traipsing through tombs for a living, we are privy to the experiences of a young Lara, struggling with what looks to be her first tough situation. Gone are the graceful Catwoman-like reflexes and maneuvers of the woman we’ve come to know. The fearless nature of this character isn’t quite as pronounced, either. The gameplay aspects and environments are interwoven into the narrative in such a way that we start getting to know why Lara Croft becomes a total badass.
While on the subject of gameplay and environments: These are done really well. If you’ve played Tomb Raider before, you’ll fall right into it. It has been a while since I’ve picked up a controller to guide Ms. Croft, but it became familiar almost instantly. I didn’t even realize I was learning new aspects of control as I was doing it. These sort of natural-feeling controls help with keeping me glued to a game. The scenery isn’t only appropriate to the setting, but done in a majestic and epic manner. There was a point in time in the demo where I decided: Yeah, she’s probably bleeding to death and a major organ might be punctured, but I’m going to make her stand at this vantage point so I can take in the magnificent view of shipwrecks along the rocky shoreline.
Square Enix seems really poised to deliver with these two successful franchises, and I am anticipating both releases.