I've seen a lot of people express pretty positive thoughts on IOI's Project 007 reveal – which warms my heart, seeing as their devotion to a crisp and unique sandbox gameplay experience seems to finally be fully rewarded by the industry as a whole – and a lot of people are expecting it to be basically a reskinned version of Hitman. I think that might have a shred of truth to it, but what I think will actually be the case – bearing in mind that anything anyone outside of IOI says is baseless speculation at this point – is that, yes, it will be a reskin of Hitman, but specifically, it will be a reskin of Hitman Absolution.
…oookay, maybe not a "faithful" reskin. Maybe they'll use modern Hitman's shooting and stealth mechanics. Maybe they'll add some neat twists to it in the form of cool spy gadgets. Maybe the disguise system doesn't just outright suck ass. But the important part, aside from the gameplay, is the structure. Absolution, so far, is the Hitman game that's most tailored to telling a story. It's very railroady, full of cutscenes, comprised of many "transitory" levels that take you between two locations and are heavily scripted, and not nearly as sandbox-y as modern Hitman. Does that mean there won't be any sandboxes at all? I mean, Absolution had some pretty sandbox-y levels itself – I don't think that should be a concern. But are they going to be quite as sprawling, huge and delicately detailed as modern Hitman's levels? I'd say probably not quite.
But that's fine! Because I'm of the opinion – one that's apparently shared by many after a quick skim through the subreddit search – that Absolution was a perfectly good game. It just wasn't a very good Hitman game. It sacrificed too much gameplay to get across its story, and the hallmark Hitman sandbox-style gameplay loop suffered for it.
But with 007, we have no such "hallmark style". What we have is a franchise that is ripe with really cool spy thrillers, with gadgets and sneakery, but also explosions and car rides, yachts, secret agent gunfights, and much more. If you think of Absolution, but imagine that 47 is James Bond and Victoria is… well, still a mostly generic damsel in distress, but somehow Bond-universe-related instead, it actually all works out really well! There's some stuff that's just too dumb to be explained no matter which universe you put it in – like sexy rocket launcher nuns – but the pacing of the game, in my opinion, would work immensely well for a Bond-style spy thriller.
Or maybe they're going to go all-out on huge Hitman-style sandboxes and Absolution-style transition levels. Or maybe we ditch the traditional definition of "levels" and make use of next-gen data transfer rates to blur the line between sandbox and transitional linear path. Who knows at this point? But IOI has proven that they can do Bond-style thriller action before – in the form of Hitman Absolution.
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