Square Enix and IO Interactive today released the latest Hitman: Absolution trailer. This one highlights the non-player characters (NPCs) found in the game, and how they can help Agent 47 eliminate his targets.
One of the most difficult things for any game to do is provide believable characters who react to player actions. It’s difficult because it’s not possible for video game characters to pass the turing test – at some point, players are going to hear repeated dialogue, see them take stupid actions, or see NPCs get themselves and others killed. This is the main reason escort quests are a scourge upon the gaming landscape.
Bethesda did a fairly good job with believability in Skyrim, but the “arrow to the knee” meme makes it clear how far there still is to go. Rockstar’s Grand Theft Auto games always provide extra entertainment from the way characters react to ultraviolence, and it’s a given that the upcoming Grand Theft Auto V will feature much better AI than was found in GTA IV.
Judging from today’s trailer, it appears Hitman: Absolution has taken a heavily-scripted route to controlling NPCs. The dialogue is obviously written to make them seem like real people with concerns outside of pacing back and forth along a set route. It’s a nice touch, and hopefully it will be believable enough to make aspiring Agent 47’s think twice about simply murdering everyone in each level.