Hitman 2: Silent Assassin – interview

Hitman 2: Silent Assassin – interview

Original Hitman was a really controversial game – some players enjoyed the game´s story and gameplay, some weren´t intresting with these things. The upcoming sequel will be basically equivalent to the first game. Beyond it will fetch along new features, innovations and dramatic story. We have spoken with Peter Fleckenstein, the game´s graphic designer. Will Hitman 2 really be so superior? Simple question, the answer can be found in our interview!

Doupe: Could you please tell our readers who you are and how long have you been working at IO Interactive?
Peter Fleckenstein: Well, my name is Peter Fleckenstein, and I`ve been working at IO Interactive as Graphic Designer since 1999, when we only were about 15 people. Today we are 75 and my job is primary level design and background graphics.

Doupe: Right now you`re working on the upcoming sequel to Hitman: Codename 47. What new features will Hitman 2: Silent Assassin offer? Where and when came into existence the idea of making a sequel?
P.F.: There will be a lot of new features in Hitman 2, though the elementary game play still remains the same. First of all is the engine totally rewritten, so you`ll see much more detailed graphics and characters. That was necessary when we decided to make console versions. Our entire AI system also contains many new features, e.g.. enemies try to find cover in a gunfight, enemies are able to undiscovered disguises if Hitman acts weird and all in one they act cleverer.

In Hitman 2 we have about 30+ weapons or should I say, lethal devices. You are able to pick up a golf club or a Japanese sword, or kill with the new crossbow. We have 4-5 different sniper riffles. NPC`s can be anaesthetized and stripped.

Our new ranking system describes how the player play the game, and we give them a characteristic as a player. The highest rank you can achieve is of course Silent `Assassin`, but sometimes it`s also fun to be a Psychopath, Ninja Extraordinaire or Ghost! It all depends on alerts, people killed, innocent harmed etc. etc.



Doupe: How many copies of the original Hitman were sold? And how many copies of Hitman 2 do you expect to be sold?
P.F.: Hitman 1 did actually sell more than 600.000 copies, and that was on PC only, so of course we expect to sell more on PS2, Xbox and PC. There are pre-ordered more than 1.000.000 million copies, which we are very happy about. Knowing that people actually like our games, gives us the possibility to keep on making games - and that`s what we love to do.

Doupe: What is the new story about?
P.F.: After the final showdown with his creator, and in some way his father, in Hitman 1 our main character ends up in Sicily at a monastery, where he seeks peace, love and understanding :-) Hitman isn`t religious but finds a mentor and friend in Father Vittorio at the monastery. But a merciless Russian gangster wants Hitman back in business to do some killing for him, and he let Father Vittorio be kidnapped by a local, Sicilian mafia. Hitman calls his former employer (ICA - an international contract killer agency) to get some information about the mafia, but to receive the information he has to do some other jobs. Hitman finds out that the only thing he`s really good at is ... killing. The story continues at the search for Father Vittorio and Hitman finds himself mixed up in a worldwide intrigues plan with betrayal and double-dealing.

Doupe: What kind of character is the Hitman alias Tobias Rieper? Could you please introduce this man a little?
P.F.: It`s true that Hitman some times used a cover name, Tobias Rieper, in the first game, but his most used name or calling is `Codename 47` - in short `47`. `47` refers to his creation number as a clone. He is genetic manipulated and developed by 5 men, which wanted to create the perfect killer. And I can`t guarantee that he`s the only living clone around.

He was quite confused after the end in Hitman 1 where he actually killed many of his look a like `brothers` and his father of creation. That was tough for even a professional assassin, and that`s why he ends up at the monastery, where no one needs to know about his past. In the confession booth he can talk to Father Vittorio without being confronted or dodged. And normally he doesn`t show emotions and if people get to close to him he will either kill them or leave them behind. I think he could be described as `an asocial, callous and cool guy` that we all want to play for a couple of hours.



Doupe: I have played a preview version of the game and I think the sequel is more action-oriented than the original Hitman. Is it only my own feeling or a bare fact?
P.F.: When we designed Hitman 2 we wanted to take the best from the first one and combine it with new features and advanced game play. But we have designed all the 21 levels to be solved both as an action based shooter and a stealthy, thinking shooter and variations in between. We let the players decide how they will play each level - sometimes we need to get deep in a game and concentrate, and other times we just need to pick up the game pad and go crazy. But no - it`s not more action-oriented than the first one ... but you might be :-)

Doupe: A lot of players called for quick save function. Will it be in the game? Do you think that this function is inevitable?
P.F.: Oh yes, you will be able to quick save on all 3 platforms - at any time during the missions! But we put in a limited number of saves depending on what difficulty level you play the game, and sometimes you`re awarded some extra saves during the mission. We don`t want the player to save just before he turns every corner - and by putting in save game we changed our motto (and excuse) for Hitman 1 "There isn`t save game in the real world" :-)

And yes, I think it`s inevitable - because missing save game feature could result in, that the player can`t complete a level - and that would really be a shame, now that we have build so many great locations!

Doupe: The music in Hitman 2 appears to be really smashing. Who is working on this part of the game? How many songs will the full version offer?
P.F.: As in Hitman 1 Jesper Kyd, a Danish guy in New York that we know from way back, produces our music. He`s really a genius when it comes to game and movie music. But this time he didn`t need to make all the sound digitally because the Budapest Symphony Orchestra plays all our themes. We even had a 60 people choir to sing our main theme, and all in all it gives Hitman 2 exactly the grandeur that we want to give the player.

Doupe: Hitman`s work and life are really interesting themes especially for a movie. Do you think in future we will have a chance to watch a movie or a TV serial based on Hitman games?
P.F.: In our research and design of Hitman 2 we watched thousands of films and we have been joking about who could play Hitman in a movie. We are quite many balled guys at IO Interactive - but not so many as athletic as Hitman. Maybe if I grew about 3 inches and changed my weight into muscles we could do a home video movie!!! But I`m sorry, I can`t tell you more about future ideas...



Doupe: A few weeks ago the gaming site ToTheGame.com brought a new advertising poster of Hitman 2: Silent Assassin, which originally comes from one of the European branch offices of Eidos. This poster looks pretty controversial. In my opinion it isn`t a good form of advertising. What do you think about it? Do you truly plan to use this poster?
P.F.: Sometimes you just need attention from your marketing, and not advertising for the product it self. When we release you`ll see many different adds from all over the world, because the market isn`t uniform. And there is also a big difference in what media it will be shown at, from web based banners, printed adds and moving pictures. But I won`t tell you which adds I love the best or which I... hum, don`t like the best.

Doupe: One of the disadvantages of the original Hitman was absence of multiplayer. Is the sequel going to set this right?
P.F.: Well, I disagree with you on this one. To me it`s not an obviously multiplayer game as the form is right now. So we decided not to force in a multiplayer feature in Hitman 2. It would be a totally different game, and we couldn`t possible make that as well with this one. But we have many ideas for things like that - let`s see what the future brings.

Doupe: What about NPCs? Will player cooperate with friendly characters? What is in your opinion the most interesting NPC character of your game?
P.F.: A big part of the game is to use disguises, and friendly NPS`s (civilians) are a great place to get them from. Contrary to the first game you`re not forced to kill them, because you are able to anesthetize them, But after a while they wake up and will of course try to babble about you to a guard near by. So changing outfits several times is a good idea.

My favourite NPC is a real person named Tue - and he`s used several places in the game. It`s actually a Danish guy that won a contest of being in a computer game, and the first time you meet him is as a delivery boy at Sicily. So watch out for Tue

Doupe: A lot of players demanded a game editor for the original Hitman. Do you plan to release it with Hitman 2?
P.F.: Our graphic engine was totally rewritten to deal with PS2 and the growing demands for advanced graphics, and our editor was during the entire process in development - and it still is. So that`s why we unfortunately can`t release a game editor.

Doupe: Graphic engine of the original Hitman was really great. Did you receive any licensing requests from other game developers?
P.F.: Yes, and we would love to see other games being developed on our in-house engine Glacier. But as I just said, it`s still in development process.



Doupe: Right now, do you have any idea of system requirements of Hitman 2?
P.F.: Buy a PS2 or an Xbox and you`re home safe. Talking of PC it`s always a combination of a fast processor and a nice graphic card - and you can`t get it fast enough :-) Our minimum specs are around PIII 450 MHz with minimum a 16mb TNT graphic card. But to get the best performance we recommend a faster machine with a 32 MB G-Force-something.

Doupe: Hitman 2: Silent Assassin has been delayed several times. At what development phase is your game right now? And when will be Hitman 2 ready for public release?
P.F.: We are having a release party on the 4th of October - the same day as Hitman 2, Silent Assassin is on the shelves in every shop.

It`s true that our first release date was March 2002 - but only for the PC version. But we decided to release the game on all 3 platforms at the same time. Our release date for PS2 and Xbox was mid-September but some legal stuff delayed it with 3 weeks.

Doupe: There are a lot of amazing games in development. Why do you think that your game will be successful? What is the greatest innovation of Hitman 2 compared with other games of this genre?
P.F.: Of course I hope that Hitman 2 will be a success, so we can continue making games. Hitman 2 is in many ways different from other games in the same sort of genre. The very wide way of playing the game gives an enormous replay value. And I also think that we succeeded to make a game that is equal in fun and controls on 3 different platforms.

Doupe: Maybe it`s too early to ask you about IO Interactive and Hitman`s future. But after all, what other games are you working on right now? Do you have any plans to make another sequel of the Hitman series?
P.F.: Another team at IO is at this moment developing a game called "Freedom - the Battle for Liberty Island". It`s an action-strategic shooter based on the fantasy, that Russia won the cold war and the US is the last free spot on earth. Our publisher EA has much more about it on their homepage.

Doupe: Is there anything else you would like to tell our readers?
P.F.: I want to thank the readers for reading all the way to this point - and thanks to my mother and father for believing in me, thanks to my mentor and spiritual advisor Niels Erik and thanks ........... bla bla

Doupe: Thank you for your time.

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