Many of the titles on offer at this year’s Eurogamer event such as the likes of Halo 4
, Call of Duty: Black Ops II
and Crysis 3
were giving gamers the chance to get some time with the various titles multiplayer modes, but for those that were hoping for a preview of some single player action the choices were fairly more limited. Thankfully, Square Enix was there with single player demos of two of their most eagerly awaited titles, Hitman: Absolution
and Tomb Raider
Once again we get to walk in the shoes of Agent 47 and fans of the series will understand straight away what is expected of you. The demo threw me straight into a mission entitled “The King of Chinatown” where my target was a local drug dealer that, when you first locate him, is on a pagoda in the middle of a food market and surrounded by corrupt cops. Of course this is a Hitman
title, so running in without a plan isn’t in your best interest.
I spent a good few minutes scouting out the area, moving between the crowds and numerous market stalls, the improved crowd A.I feels more true to life and reacts more realistically to how you approach them and walking around with a weapon drawn won’t just alert the authorities but cause mass panic. After taking in the great scenery, I finally started looking for anything and everything that could be useful, and finally formulated a plan where I would steal some poisonous fish from one of the market stalls and use it to poison the Kings cocaine. Though to quote Robert Burns, “the best laid plans Of Mice and Men often go awry” and after failing to subdue and hide the chef, I was soon being chased down by a S.W.A.T team and an army of corrupt cops.
Hitman has always given multiple you ways to take out a target and Absolution is no different, so after one horrific failure I decided to try something a little different and found my way up to one of the Kings associate’s apartments, where I just happened to find a high powered rifle and an open window with a clear line of sight of my target. While this wasn’t quite as satisfying as my earlier attempt, it did get the job done and the ensuing chaos allowed me to make my escape with very little fuss.
Agent 47 does have a few new tricks up his sleeve too, Instinct is a new system that highlights enemies and their movements, similar to Eagle vision in Assassin’s Creed and Point Shooting, which allows you to make automatic headshots as long as you have enough points to use it. These new abilities don’t detract from the gameplay either, but rather help to speed up the action and shorten your decision making time as it allows you to keep track of enemy movement without needing to constantly check your map.
While the demo didn’t show off anything truly ground-breaking, it does demonstrate that the series is still steadily improving, it still feels like a Hitman
game but the small tweaks will make it more approachable for those that may not have played any of the previous games in the series without turning away long-time fans. Tomb Raider
Since the reboot of the series was announced back in December 2010
, people have gotten used to the fact that the latest in the long running franchise is going to be something with a slightly different flavour, thankfully, it seems it has turned out to be rather sweet and with plenty of depth.
From the start of the demo you could tell that this isn’t the Lara Croft that we’re accustomed to, she isn’t the amazingly athletic sharpshooter with nerves of steel, but a young and inexperienced Lara fighting for her own survival, injured and looking for shelter. The voice acting from Camilla Luddington truly strikes this home, there is a real sense of fear and desperation in Lara’s voice which helps you to connect with her and gain more of an understanding of the gravity of the situation she is facing.
The environments are breath taking, on many occasions I found myself drawn to the edge of a cliff just to take in the view, which even in the midst of a torrential downpour were spectacular. Lara’s Interaction with the environment also takes on a new perspective, she approaches obstacles very tentatively and this again helps to cement the fact that you are in control of a much less experienced adventurer. One section sees Lara traverse a crashed aircraft that breaks apart as she climbs it in order to make it across a large gap, of course not the safest of routes, but a necessary one that shows how the platforming aspect of the series has developed as well as Lara’s willingness to do what it takes to survive. It should be noted that Tomb Raider
's updated platforming mechanics do borrow heavily from its PS3 exclusive cousin, Uncharted
, though to be honest, Uncharted
has borrowed so much from the Tomb Raider
series in the past; it seems only fair to return the favour.
Combat didn’t make much of an appearance, but I feel it really didn’t need to, as this demo truly redefines the Lara we thought we knew so well by showing her strength of character and humanity rather than her prowess with firearms. Instead the final section of the demo involved hunting a deer using a bow that Lara retrieves from a corpse hanging from a tree, this deer is also the first thing Lara has to kill, and there is real sense of remorse as she puts the animal out of its misery, but she knows that it must be done in order for her to survive.Tomb Raider
sets out to change how gamers perceive Lara, an even in the brief time I had with the title it manages to do so with great ease. This isn’t a tale of adventure and glory but that of personal growth and survival against all odds and when it finally arrives in stores next March, I whole heartedly expect it to be one of the most engrossing games of this generation, if not of all time.