Wednesday 17 August 2011

Most Anticipated 2011 Part 3

03. Monaco
Andy Schatz
PC, "at least one console"

Damn do I like the look of Monaco. A top-down indie co-op stealth game, it's all the things I love: indie, co-op, stealth. And top-down. It's Thief meets L4D, if we're going there, or as the developer puts it, 'Gauntlet meets Hitman', which also at least 50% floats my boat.

Much like Nidhog, Monaco offers new way to play with friends, but it's the purity of its stealth that entices me. For such a well-loved genre and - at least as subsystem in actions games - omnipresent genre stealth seems to have been suffering a dearth of content for some time. Hitman's on hiatus, Thief 4's still hush hush, and the linear simplicity of the Splinter Cells and Manhunts knows where the itch is but can't fully reach around to scratch it.

Monaco looks fantastic. The perspective complements the gameplay. My only fear is that it may prove too quick fire: too much online tomfoolery and not enough quality dramatic content. Obviously there's a massive market for that, and fair play to it. For me, though, the core joy of a stealth game is the exploration - the sense that through our own guile we're accessing a living world that we have no right to. I hope Andy Schatz shares that perspective.

02. Deus Ex: Human Revolution
Eidos Montreal
23 August 2011
PC, PS3, 360

Another sequel, another beloved franchise handed over to a new team. Why should we be excited about Human Revolution? Well for starters everyone that's played it says it's Deux Ex. As in it's a first-person action RPG with branching story, multiple solutions and intelligent cyber-punk writing. These are good things.

While trying to make X-wing work the other day I stumbled accross this RPS list of the most important PC games ever. Funnily enough Deus Ex wasn't on there, but what struck me was what they had to say about a much more personal favourite: Vampire The Masquerade Bloodlines (too many colons to bother).
Bloodlines is important because it signposts a direction to a future of games that we were denied. It is a lament, and a warning. It’s also brilliant.
At first I wanted to to scoff, but when you do get to thinking about Vampire's lineage, what's out there? The Witchers and Dragon Ages follow a much more traditional high-content, low-detail path, and really when I'm pushed to name a single RPG with the fidelity of world and narrative that Vampire hosted all I can come up with is Mass Effect 2.

Here's hoping we can add Deus Ex: Human Revolution to that list very shortly.

01. Hitman: Absolution
IO Interactive
PC, PS3, 360

Oh yes. I've expressed my Hitman-love in the past, so it's natural this five-years-in-the-making follow up should top my list. Above all else, Hitman is a dynamic, open ended and detailed world simulator that just so happens to let you murder people in it. I wouldn't really care if you were just there to fix the plumbing, provided I had to navigate pool parties, arsey security guards and drunk women to do so.

Somewhat akin to Bioshock Infinite, the guys at IO are talking up the technology and experience that's finally allowing them to deliver the depth of AI that the genre demands. It's an incredible challenge in balancing - how do you make people smart enough to seem real yet dumb enough to provide freedom within the gameplay? It's also one that can't really be demonstrated fairly in a trailer.

Will IO manage it? Well, the series has a reputation for pushing the bar with each successive entry - see Blood Money's crowd scenes and flexible solution design - while somehow honing and polishing the formula simultaneously. It's also done when it's done. 2012 could be the year Hitman finally realises its extraordinary potential.

A few lessons learnt from Kane & Lynch in the story department wouldn't go amiss, though.

1 comment:

  1. Human Revolution is getting all my love right now. It's fantastic how we're seeing these new deus-exy games recently - no sooner is DE3 about to roll out the door than Harvey Smith announces Dishonoured, which looks phenomenal.