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PC Gamer

WHY I LOVE

In Why I Love, PC Gamer writers pick an aspect of PC gaming that they love and write about why it's brilliant. Today, stealthing around ships. We don't know why all the best stealth levels are set on boats, but they are.

Due to the popularity of military shooters, the ship level has become clich . It's the genre's lava level. Inevitably, it has a TV Tropes page.

I don't care. I love them. Specifically, I love them in stealth games, where they act as a setting, rather than a set piece. That bit where you're running through a semi-cinematic disaster movie, an invisible trigger sending the next wave of flooding water crashing through a door? I'm not a fan, thanks Tomb Raider. Scripting robs the setting of that sense of separation from the outside world; the idea of a small, confined, claustrophobic space with no escape and no backup. Not just for me, but for them—the guards.

Deus Ex: Human Revolution's Missing Link DLC opens on a ship, and it's one my favourite sections of the game. There is a very functional design philosophy to a big floating boat that sits at odds with the game's stylised futurism. In the open cities and sprawling office complexes, Deus Ex could lace its environments with high-tech design. The ship is just a ship. The scale is different—narrower, more linear. It's filled with plain, metallic walls. The doors are bulky slabs of mass. It feels solid. Real. 

See also: the original Deus Ex, or Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory. These levels stand apart as standalone vignettes contained with the overall flow of their respective campaigns.

It's pure coincidence that I'm writing this on the week of Alien: Isolation's release, but it's fitting. That is, to all intents and purposes, a stealth game set on a ship. But it occupies a different mental space than what I'm talking about here. In many ways it's the opposite. The film Alien is about a crew trapped in an inescapable place with a unstoppable killer. It is a film about being hunted. But take the opening Tanker chapter of Metal Gear Solid 2—it flips the concept. Your enemies are the ones trapped in an inescapable space, and you are the unstoppable killer.

I was about 17 when the Metal Gear Solid 2 demo came out. It was around the same time I was discovering horror films. The demo—containing the first section of the Tanker prologue—felt like a powerful, cathartic inversion to the stories I was watching. It manifested as a fascination with toying with the guards. First, I'd shoot out their radio, disabling communication with the ship at large. Then, I'd move. Give them a glimpse that something is out there. Finally I'd strike.

I should probably point out that I'm not a psychopathic monster. Games can, to the outsider, be horrifying. My repeated MGS2 playthroughs probably looked like sadistic torture sessions—another young mind corrupted by violence and giant seafaring transport vehicles. That's not the case—if anything, the experience felt more like I was directing a movie. None of it was real, so what story can I tell? How about a story where the monster wins.

In Hitman: Blood Money, the monster is even more insidious. He hides in plain sight.

In Hitman: Blood Money, the monster is even more insidious. He hides in plain sight. Here, 47 is essentially the Thing—another film based on horror in a remote environment. In the Death on the Mississippi level you discover members of different social strata scattered throughout compartments of the ship including workers, revelers, and, of course, your intended victims. With care, you can move through them all, a powerful subversive presence that, if you're playing as intended, passes unseen. I always play stealth games as perfectly as possible, often reloading if the fantasy of hunting through these spaces is broken.

The ultimate example is Coloratura, the winner of last year's Interactive Fiction competition. In it, you're a literal monster—pulled from the deep and tasked with finding your way home. The monster's actions are initially obfuscated by its alien thought patterns, but eventually, as you work out what you're doing, you'll realise the effect that you're having on the ship's human inhabitants. And then you'll keep doing it anyway.

To an extent you can pull this off in any remote setting. But there's something about the sea that makes the concept so irresistible. In every direction is a vast and inhospitable ocean, and I'm the most deadly thing on it.

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alec Meer)

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game recommendations. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.>

This one’s regularly cited as a cult classic that didn’t quite get the acclaim it deserved at the time, but it bears repeating: Blood Money is io’s stealth game at the peak of its powers.

… [visit site to read more]

PC Gamer
steam sale day five


The Steam Summer Sale is off to a good start this week. After good deals on The Wolf Among Us, Tomb Raider, and Skyrim over the weekend, a few more of our favorite PC games go on sale today.

Don t forget to check out GOG s summer deals, too.
Reminder: if a game isn't a daily deal or a flash sale, it could pop up later in the sale for an even lower price. If you want to be safe, wait until June 30 to pick up a sale-long deal.

5 - Surgeon Simulator 2013
75% off: $2.49 / 1.74 - Steam store page
To enjoy Surgeon Simulator, you have to like that the impossibly finicky controls and unpredictable physics game-breaking flaws anywhere else are by design, and that you ll occasionally stab your patient in the eye with a scalpel when you meant to pick up a saw. The jokes that endear us to Surgeon Simulator that QWOP-like surgery is hard, that throwing a heart into an open chest cavity qualifies as a transplant are used up pretty quickly, but there is some joy to mastering all the operations, especially when taking turns and laughing at the failures of your friends.
4 - Risk of Rain
75% off: $2.49 / 1.74 Steam store page Flash sale: Buy it before 8 p.m. EST
Where most roguelikes are slow and methodical, Risk of Rain is fast and frenetic. A constantly ticking clock increases the game difficulty every few minutes, until dozens of weak enemies turn into massive piles of bosses. Risk of Rain is a tough game, but it also strikes a great balance between skill and luck there are 9 playable characters, each with unique attacks and special abilities, and there are dozens of power-ups to memorize. Hunting for that perfect combination for a successful run is what a good roguelike is all about. Bonus: Risk of Rain's devs recently updated their blog to announce that they're moving the game to a new engine, which will fix some of the game's technical issues.
3 - Dark Souls: Prepare to Die Edition
75% off: $4.99 / 4.99 - Steam store page
Dark Souls often gets discounted to $5, but if you haven't picked it up already, you're missing out on one of the best action RPGs of the past five years. It's brutally difficult but rewards the determined with a deeply interconnected world to explore, precise combat to master, and so, so many secrets to find. Dark Souls almost never tells you where to go or what to do, which is so uncommon these days that it's initially daunting. Dig in, and you'll realize how refreshing it is to discover and defeat everything yourself. Just remember to install DSfix, the mod that fixes Dark Souls' terrible locked resolution and other issues.
2 - Arma 3
50% off: $29.99 / 17.99 - Steam store page
The sandboxy war simulator has never dropped below $35, so this is the cheapest Arma 3 has ever been. Bohemia has done some good work augmenting Arma 3 with the free Zeus DLC recently, and over 7,700 mods and custom mission content await in Steam Workshop. Make sure you re close to the recommended spec, but this is absolutely one of the highest-fidelity, open-ended, moddable, and malleable PC games you can own.
1 - Hitman Collection
80% off: $8.99 / 5.99 - Steam store page Flash sale: Buy it before 8 p.m. EST
Hitman: Absolution wasn't exactly our thing, but this collection includes the game that made us disappointed in IO Interactive's latest stab at the series: Blood Money. Blood Money, released in 2007, is where it all came together: the elaborate maps, complex AI, arsenal of deadly weapons, and the incredible varied ways all those pieces can come together. Take Tom Francis' word for it: "Hitman is a murder simulator, and that might be a terrible thing. I don t know. But if you re going to make one, make it as beautiful as Blood Money. Make it a dark and complex work of interactive art, a working model of the mathematics of lies. Six years later, people like me will still be too enthralled with playing it to care." Unfortunately this collection omits 2004's Hitman: Contracts (it's also on sale separately for $1.99 / 0.99) but it does include the first two games, which are a fun nostalgia trip that show how far the series has evolved.

Other great deals today
Remember that games not categorized as Daily Deals or Flash Sales may be reduced further later in the sale.

Castle Crashers (90% off) $1.49 / 0.99
Dungeon Defenders (75% off) $3.74 / 2.49
Saints Row 4 (75% off) $9.99 / 7.49
Rogue Legacy (75% off) $3.74 /
FTL: Advanced Edition (60% off) $3.99 / 2.79
Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alice O'Connor)

An entire building of murder.

After the disappointment of Hitman: Absolution, developers IO Interactive came to the Internet with their collective hat in their collective hands. Without quite admitting that Absolution’s small levels, linear missions, wonky AI, more personal story, and bottomless pockets didn’t pan out, they did write an open letter mentioning that they plan to do away with all those things for the next Hitman game. Reminding people that it’s still being made and they really did mean all that, IO have shown off a little concept art including a building which, they say, “on its own is larger than any location in Hitman: Absolution.”

… [visit site to read more]

PC Gamer
pixelboost-hitman-teaser


Twice a month Wes guides you through the hacks, tricks, and mods you'll need to run a classic PC game on Windows 7/8. Each Pixel Boost guide comes with a free side of 4K screenshots from the LPC celebrating the graphics of PC gaming's past. This week: our favorite bald assassin's first outing in Hitman: Codename 47.

2012's Hitman: Absolution brought Agent 47 back into the assassination business, though not in the way we hoped. Gone were the sprawling levels that made up Blood Money's brilliantly intricate murder simulator. Six years before IO Interactive perfected the Hitman formula, though, it tapped into that first spark of brilliance with Hitman: Codename 47. The first Hitman introduced the series staples that its sequels would build on: disguises, hiding bodies, observing guard patterns. Codename 47 doesn't love modern Windows, but with a few simple setting changes (thanks OpenGL!) it runs like a champ, even at 4K.



Install it

Hitman: Codename 47 is available on GOG for $6 and on Steam for $7. If you want to own the entire catalog of Agent 47's assassination career, the Hitman Collection on Steam is $45. Later games in the series are more polished and more sophisticated, so consider grabbing them after our Hitman 1 history lesson.

Codename 47 shouldn't require any special patches or downloads to run on Windows 7 or Windows 8. Simply install the game, then try running it once to ensure it populates its .ini file. The game tries to run in Direct3D by default. Most likely, it's not going to work for you. Let's switch to OpenGL.

Run it in high resolution

Once Hitman: Codename 47 is installed, navigate to its installation directory and open up Setup.exe. This is a small launcher utility for changing a few game settings--resolution, renderer, and so on. We only need to make a couple changes. First, untick the fullscreen option. We want to run Hitman: Codename 47 in windowed mode, because it tends to crash on launch in fullscreen. We'll set the resolution in a moment, so you can actually run the game at your full monitor resolution, even with fullscreen disabled.

Also in the launcher, change the renderer from Direct3D to OpenGL. Then close the setup utility--we'll set the resolution in Hitman's .ini file. There's a great forum thread on GOG that lays out these tips, which allow the game to be run without messing around with Compatibility mode.

In Hitman's install directory, open up Hitman.ini in Notepad. It's a small file. You should see the following settings.



If you already used the setup utility, DrawDll renderopengl.dll should be the only DrawDll line that doesn't have // in front of it. // means the other renderer options are commented out.
The Window line indicates that the game will run in windowed mode.
Now, change the numbers beside Resolution to the resolution of your display.
f you're running the game on a multi-monitor setup, you may need to add another line to the .ini file to make sure the window appears in the right place. Simply add StartUpperPos 0,0 on a new line.
Save and close the file.

That's it! Time to play Hitman. If you have issues with the game running at unusual speed, check the forum thread linked above. It has a fix.
Mod it
Unfortunately, there are no noteworthy mods for Hitman: Codename 47. If you find yourself itching for a fresh (or better) Hitman experience, play Blood Money.

Hitman: Codename 47 at 4320x2560 on the LPC

These screenshots were captured by running Hitman across three portrait-oriented monitors on the Large Pixel Collider. For more guides to running classic games on modern Windows and more classic game screenshots, check out Pixel Boost every other week.




































PC Gamer
Hitman 4k header 2


Every Monday, keen screen-grabber Ben Griffin brings you a sumptuous 4K resolution gallery to celebrate PC gaming's prettiest places.

We were disappointed by several aspects of Hitman Absolution, but the visuals weren't one of them. The Glacier engine could render dank apartments with obsessive detail and handle crowds of hundreds in outdoor environments. The colour palette and environments shifted dramatically as the globe-trotting adventure progressed, all of which makes it a great candidate for a 4K screenshot showcase. Absolution is a fine looking game, and Agent 47's bald head looks even shinie in super high-res, as you'll discover in the 20 massive shots that follow.



Download the full-sized image here.



Download the full-sized image here.



Download the full-sized image here.



Download the full-sized image here.





Download the full-sized image here.



Download the full-sized image here.



Download the full-sized image here.



Download the full-sized image here





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Download the full-sized image here.



Download the full-sized image here.



Download the full-sized image here.





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Download the full-sized image here.



Download the full-sized image here.



Download the full-sized image here.





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Download the full-sized image here.



Download the full-sized image here.



Download the full-sized image here.
Announcement - Valve
Save 80% on the Hitman series during this week's Midweek Madness*!

Hitman: Absolution follows the Original Assassin undertaking his most personal contract to date. Betrayed by the Agency and hunted by the police, Agent 47 finds himself pursuing redemption in a corrupt and twisted world.

*Offer ends Friday at 10AM Pacific Time

PC Gamer
Hitman


The next Hitman game was cancelled. Then it was uncancelled. Now it's being talked about in an open letter on the Hitman website. "Dear Miley," it reads. No, wait, that was the other one. "Dear Hitman fans," it begins, before outlining, in some detail, what Io's next sharply dressed bald assassin simulator will entail.

If Hitman: Absolution converted you from a Hitman fan into a lapsed Hitman fan, there's good news: you can read the letter anyway. Also: I have a feeling the missive is meant for you most of all. I'll quote the highlights, but the highlights are talk of "open, non-linear level design" and "huge, checkpoint-free, sandbox levels". Those were some of things we moaned about it in our review. I don't see any mention of "non-excruciating nun-based trailers", however, so Io may still have a way to go yet.

Io say that "the game concentrates on the core Hitman fantasy of using a wide range of tools to take out a diverse group of targets across expansive, exotic locations around the world. We are building this game on the backbone of the Glacier 2 engine, using the best parts and what we have learnt through Hitman: Absolution and drawing inspiration from past titles like Contracts and Blood Money to fulfil the core Hitman fantasy. That means we re packing in an extreme level of detail on the largest levels we have ever built for a Hitman game. We ve adopted an open, non-linear level design approach to the game, ensuring the game will play out across huge, checkpoint-free, sandbox levels. Our aim is to create living, breathing and believable levels which will allow gamers to play around with the AI to create those unique moments every fan of the Hitman franchise loves."

Promising words. Io have also "removed 47 s magic pockets" and brought Contracts mode back - which is nice. As letters go, it's certainly a lot better than the Council Tax bills and pizza coupons I generally get in the post. Now, Hitman fans - what are you going to write in reply?

Thanks to Blue's News.
Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alec Meer)

Hello there. Things have sounded a little unhappy at Hitman and Kane & Lynch devs IO Interactive for a while now, in the wake of 2012′s Hitman: Subtitle achieving neither the acclaim or the spondoolies it was hoped to. Last year, the Square Enix-owned Danish studio saw half its workforce removed from their jobs, along with claims that the remainder would get to do nothing but Hitman games. Yesterday, reports circulated that the Next Jennifer Hitman game had been quietly garotted. That claim, despite being made on a Square Enix Montreal senior game designer’s LinkedIn profile, has now been denied. (more…)

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