All the recent news about a new Hitman game has reminded me of an idea I had about nine months ago, after completing Hitman: Blood Money and Hitman: Absolution, and watching the film Collateral, all in quick succession.
In Collateral, Vincent (Tom Cruise) arrives in Los Angeles to kill five people before they can indict a local drug lord. Vincent hires taxi cab driver Max (Jamie Foxx) to unwittingly drive him between his victims, and the film is basically about Vincent murdering people, and Max trying to figure out a way to stop him. I’m not sure how a direct adaptation of this idea would work out; you’d probably play as Max trying out various ways to stop Vincent from completing his hit list. But in my idea, you don’t play as Max, in fact, he isn’t even in it.
In my idea, you play as Vincent.
At the start of the game you, as Vincent, arrive in L.A. with a smart phone with 5 people’s names on it. You have the information about where they are going to be and what they look like; that’s it. It’s up to you to track down each individual target and figure out the best method to kill them, and you have 12 real time hours to get around the whole (completely modelled) city to do it.
Imagine each of your targets is an individual contract in Hitman, except instead of all 5 of them being in different levels, they’re all in the same sandbox. How do you personally approach a scenario like that? It won’t be like in Hitman where it points out all the ways to kill your target once you get there. You have to plan it out ahead of time, and then figure out the best place to acquire the equipment that you need to complete the job.
Want to blow someone up? Figure out the best place to get explosives. Want to snipe them from the other side of the road? Find a gun shop, and then choose the best building to take the shot from and find a way to break into it. Do you sneak right up to them and take them out quietly? Have you thought of a good place to hide the body? You could even make it look like an accident, or pay or force NPC’s to distract the target for you.
See the problem that I’ve always had with Hitman, is simply the fact that its level based. How big can you make an area before it’s too big to just kill one guy? Well how about instead of that, we try having an entire city, and you have to kill more guys. Think the assassination missions in Grand Theft Auto V, but all done in one night, but with way more options of how to kill.
In the film, Vincent encounters a lot of obstacles; what if similar obstacles where incorporated into the game? He could lose his list of targets and have to go and get a replacement. Or one of his targets could be in the middle of a crowded club, surrounded by personal security and police. Things like injuries could be persistent, so he’ll have to find a way to get medical attention.
Just bear in mind that you’ve still only got those 12 hours to do all this in. If you spend too long planning a kill or get held up by an obstacle then you may not have enough time to complete your contract at all. If you’re running out of time, you could just go the quick and simple route. Simply kill everyone who gets in your way, but if you attract too much attention then you may get the police on your back, and they won’t be as forgetful of what you look like, like in other games. If they realise who your other targets are, then the later missions are going to be a lot more difficult. They may beef up security, or move them to an unknown location, and then instead you have to spend even more time trying to track them down.
If the targets are randomly generated, then each playthrough could be different. If you want more of a challenge, you could request a contract with more targets, or harder to reach targets, and they’ll be in different places each time. It’s all about providing freedom, whilst also providing a reactive and challenging gameplay experience. It’s sort of like Hitman meets Shadow of the Colossus, with the time limit elements of Majora’s Mask thrown in to make it more difficult, except it’s not that easy to find or get to your target, and you have several dozen ways of killing them.
What do you think? Have you ever watched a film and thought that some element of it would make a great game?