While the world of assassination will translate nicely over to James Bond, the upcoming game cannot simply be a copy-and-paste title. It wouldn’t feel right to just make “Hitman 4” with Agent 47 swapped out for 007. There are some key adjustments IO will need to make on top of the already laid foundation to produce the Bond game it is capable of creating.
The most important attribute that will make Project 007 shine is, thankfully, the element IO absolutely nailed in Hitman 3. Each level, from Dubai to the Carpathian Mountains, offers varied and thrilling espionage adventures. Even after several replays, I’m still finding new areas in these locations, despite feeling like I had thoroughly explored each destination in past playthroughs.
Yet the environments don’t feel aimless. Every nook and cranny has a purpose, which either helps or hinders Agent 47 in enacting his assassination. It’s this delicate balance of level design and attention to environmental detail that will be most crucial to translate to Project 007.
Hitman 3 is a modular experience where players pick and choose a location, and then adjust Agent 47’s starting area, along with his gear loadout. While Hitman 3 continues and concludes a story told over the entire trilogy, it’s far from the focus of the series. Instead, the games wisely make their sandboxes the defining feature.
Project 007 will require a more linear and directed experience, with set pieces that organically flow from one to the other, which could clash with the level design strengths previously mentioned. IO will need to figure out a way to move the action from one location to the next rather than just dropping James Bond on the doorstep of a new environment.
There are also elements to 007 that aren’t touched in the Hitman trilogy, namely driving and car chases. James Bond will need to run, jump, drive, fly, and maybe even ski, where Agent 47 might have simply walked. We’ve yet to see how IO tackles more mechanical forms of movement, so that’s something to keep an eye on.
With new traversal elements in mind, the entire action design of Hitman needs to be reworked. Agent 47 excels in picking up objects, stabbing enemies in the back, and very little else. The moment an operation goes south in Hitman 3, having the assassin face off against a horde of enemies in a firefight usually results in a clunky experience that ends with 47’s death.
That’s fine, as Hitman is designed for as sneaky and untraceable an experience as possible. Project 007 will require set pieces similar to the action-heavy sequences of an Uncharted title, and they’ll need a James Bond to rise to those occasions. The playable Bond will need to be a far more fluid character than Agent 47, and just as capable in hand-to-hand combat and gunfights as he is at garroting an enemy in a dark corner.
Bond might never need more than his Walther PPK handgun to take out a room of enemies, but that doesn’t mean that should be the case. Part of the delight of playing Hitman is discovering which items can be picked up and potentially turned into deadly weapons, or what environmental elements can be used as a distraction.
Project 007 should dial the interactivity up to 11, adding more unique elements than the Hitman games, which tend to sort their objects into one of three buckets: Something to kill with, something to distract with, something to unlock with. If the Bond game changes up the formula in terms of Hitman’s modular locations, the objects 007 utilizes should be more specific to each scenario, while still being as abundant. They should also serve multiple purposes, as the gadgets Bond brings onto a mission often do.
Those gadgets should be far more interesting than the pretty vanilla tech that Agent 47 is equipped with. Shock mines and rubber duck explosives feel like the work of Q, MI6’s purveyor of gadgets, in his early days. IO Interactive should think of some of the wilder tools in Bond’s arsenal and run with them.
Hitman 3 created the groundwork for the ultimate Bond game, but its formula will require to be shaken, not stirred, in order to achieve that aspiration. Hopefully, IO Interactive can prove to be as innovative as it is iterative.
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