STAR WARS™ Jedi Knight II - Jedi Outcast™ - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Brendan Caldwell)

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Imagine a world without electricity. Horrible. What would we use to blend our smoothies? How would we know when uncle Derek hits the metal bit again in the Sunday game of Operation? Electricity has roughly one dozen uses, and yet it is in the realm of videogames when we see its most fantastical and offensive capabilities brought screaming to life. To celebrate the important role of sassy electrons in your otherwise mundane life of neutrons and – ugh – protons, here are the 8 most shocking uses of electricity in games.

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Half-Life 2 - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Katharine Castle)

There’s an old saying in gaming monitor circles that once you’ve gone ultrawide, there’s no going back. Indeed, having had the vast Samsung CRG9 hogging my desk for a bit last month, I’m inclined to agree. But what do games actually look like on a screen this wide? It’s one thing looking at lovely wallpapers, but another thing entirely to have a game occupy your entire field of vision.

To find out, and more importantly show you>, I’ve rounded up all the very best ultrawide PC games, complete with pictures of what they actually look like in the flesh, plus oodles of lovely GIFs so you can see how it works in action. If you thought playing Red Dead Redemption 2 in 5120×1440 was impressive, you ain’t seen nothing yet.

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Assassin’s Creed® III - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Katharine Castle)

HDR on PC hasn’t improved much in 2019. Despite there being more HDR gaming monitors than ever before, the very [cms-block]s for HDR continue to be quite expensive compared to non-HDR monitors, and the situation around Windows 10 support for it is still a bit of a mess. However, provided you’re willing to fight through all that, then the next step on your path to high dynamic range glory is to get an HDR compatible graphics card.

Below, you’ll find a complete list of all the Nvidia and AMD graphics cards that have built-in support for HDR, as well as everything you need to know about getting one that also supports Nvidia and AMD’s own HDR standards, G-Sync Ultimate and FreeSync 2. I’ve also put together a list of all the PC games that support HDR as well, so you know exactly which PC games you can start playing in high dynamic range.

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HITMAN™ - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Emily Gera)

Thanks to a peppering of weird bugs over the years, Hitman has seen a few iterations of the killer briefcase come and go. Hitman 2‘s briefcase bug, often heralded in the form of long GIFs, turns your standard hitman briefcase into a homing missile that spins like a throwing star and bends gently around corners as it follows its prey.

Now, developer IO Interactive have brought back the bug as an unlockable weapon, leading to what is – I think – my favourite ever version of Killer Briefcase weaponry: Absurdly slow and tediously steady. Take a look after the jump.

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HITMAN™ - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Natalie Clayton)

He’s murdered in Miami. Punched lights out in Paris. Slashed throats in Sapienza. It’s hard to imagine what chrome-dome killer Agent 47 does on holiday, what with all the globe-trotting he does as part of his nine-to-five. Does he have a nice wee sit in front of the telly, sipping a cuppa, watching Columbo? I like to think so.

His handlers might be planning another season of work for the killer, but 47 could do with a little relief. With word of a secret new game at IO Interactive, Hitman might soon find a partner to share the load of holding up the studio.

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Crusader Kings II - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (RPS)

This is the shipping forecast; the synopsis at 5pm. Solid Snake just west of cloak room, expected to move towards Sam Fisher on dance floor before midnight. Wrecking Ball from Overwatch, mild at 1am, becoming rabid with lust at 3am. Agent 47 from Hitman: confused, occasional peeping, becoming horny later. Red Prince: cyclonic, mainly drinking alone, peering at Steve from Minecraft with questionable motives, occasionally licking lips.

(Yes. We did a podcast about romantically matchmaking game characters.)

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HITMAN™ - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Katharine Castle)

HDR on PC continues to be a bit of a mess these days, but provided you haven’t been put off by the astronomical prices of the [cms-block]s for HDR or, indeed, the ongoing debacle surrounding Windows 10 support for it, then the next step on your path to high dynamic range glory is to get an HDR compatible graphics card.

Below, you’ll find a complete list of all the Nvidia and AMD graphics cards that have built-in support for HDR, as well as everything you need to know about getting one that also supports Nvidia and AMD’s own HDR standards, G-Sync HDR and FreeSync 2. I’ve also put together a list of all the PC games that support HDR as well. There aren’t many of them, all told, but I’ll be updating this list with more titles as and when they come out so it’s always up to date.

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HITMAN™

In some ways, the Hitman games are more like Rube Goldberg machines than pure science. Taking out targets becomes an experiment in making a target move to the right point, and then manipulating an object to crush, electrocute, or blow them away. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a bit of humanities studies going on too.  At this year’s Game Developers Conference, IO Interactive level designer Mette Podenphant Andersen explained how the studio used some sneaky social science to make some of the series’ most standout levels feel like the perfect murder playgrounds.

“When we looked at reviews for Sapienza, few of them had anything to do with the mission,” Andersen said. “It was all about walking around this beautiful village full of characters and places to visit. Instead of how do you make an awesome level, I wanted to find how do you design everyday life?”

Like most artists, Andersen admits she’s only taken about one semester of social anthropology, but the class gave her the chance to think more critically about how Hitman levels flow, how they affect players’ mental states, and how believable it is that people would live in a place soon to be filled with corpses and piles of clothing.

Murder in Sapienza.

Interestingly enough, Andersen cited two noted sociologists of the mid 20th century: Pierre Bourdieu and Erving Goffman. Among other important things, Bourdieu popularized the theory of social spaces, and how different social spaces carry different sets of rules, like “please don’t electrify this puddle of water”. Similarly, Goffman popularized the theory of “front stage vs. back stage,” which Hitman fans should definitely be familiar with. The general idea is that humans have a forward-facing personality in public, and a backstage personality we bring out in more private circumstances, such as when we’re with loved ones alone in our bedroom. Similarly, it can be applied to social groups we inhabit, like sitting in stands belonging to a sports team, or going to church.

Those principles help fuel much of Hitman’s level design, working to instruct players how to successfully navigate a Miami race track, or even a gothic castle filled with Eyes Wide Shut extras, without sacrificing a level of believability.

We're designing rules of behavior, Andersen said. We're designing something that's going to tap into your knowledge of how should I be in this place? "

“[Bourdieu’s] idea is basically that we are all in the social marketplace exchanging capital,” Andersen said, connecting the concept to Agent 47’s disguises. “If you do one thing in one social group that's going to get you in, in a way. For instance, if I buy a fur coat. In one social group, that's going to make me look so cool. In another one, they're going to hate me for it.”

The job of level designer for Hitman very much blends artistic design and overall game design, according to Andersen.

“We're designing rules of behavior,” Andersen said. “We're designing something that's going to tap into your knowledge of ‘how should I be in this place?’ It's very subtle. People walk into these spaces and they don't go 'oh, I'm in a church and now I must act like this.' They just do it without thinking. That's a very powerful thing."

Players weren't fond of the Colorado level, due to its restrictions.

Andersen proceeded to break down the different sections of each Hitman 2016 and 2018 level into six categories: Public open space, public purpose space, public rule space, private space, professional space, and personal space.

You see the public open spaces usually at the start of each level. Agent 47 is minding his own business in a city square or walking down a public suburb road. These places generally don’t have any rules or restrictions, which allows the player to chill out long enough to get their bearings.

Public purpose places are still fairly rule-free, but they often present unique gameplay opportunities, like when that idiot Rocco is about to be late for his new job at the Sapienza mansion.

Public rule locations are like Sapienza’s ice cream shop, where the owner will get mad at you for walking behind the counter. Private spaces equate to Sapienza’s mansion and ruins, while professional spaces might include the morgue, where a disguise would be necessary.

Finally, a personal space often refers to one of the locations you might track a target to, somewhere they feel safe enough to be alone. These private spaces can feel like a proper “endgame,” whereas the vast majority of levels will try to always present players with multiple routes in and out. Think the decontamination lab below the Sapienza mansion, or Sylvia Caruso’s bedroom in the same level.

Andersen presented a number of interesting overhead maps of each level, segmenting all these levels into their various spaces, many of which rely on a sort of “snail house” flow. In Sapienza, the public spaces all connect into each other (or merge into public purpose spaces), but like any real world location, there’s various off-limits areas the further off the path you go. Allowing players to keep moving through an area without trouble goes a long way towards letting them figure out how they want to tackle an infiltration, Andersen said. 

Andersen cited Hitman 2016’s Colorado as an example of these spaces fluctuating heavily in one direction. Colorado drops players immediately into the hostile territory of an anti-government terrorist compound, forcing 47 to play every move with greater care. Somewhat related, Hitman’s Colorado level also had the game’s lowest Metascore.

“It's interesting to see what happens when you take away half of our tools in making a Hitman level,” Andersen said. “We're only using half of the palette [in Colorado]. The way this looks from above is actually quite representative of how it feels to play. Everything is soldiers, this orchard they've taken over. It's hard to figure out if these soldiers are allowed here but not over there.”

When it came time to design Hitman 2, the team at IO wanted to explore more ways to keep players interested without having such huge space fluctuations between levels, where some can feel freeing and the others are overly oppressive.

“What we learned was that you can keep the player engaged without introducing trespassing,” Andersen said.

Andersen emphasized four big findings the team brought to Hitman 2, which mostly focused on the use of public spaces to free the player’s mind and get it running with possibilities. Hitman 2 players will notice that the size of public areas has increased (Mumbai and Miami stand out as great examples) and IO was careful to budget for those “backstage” areas that feature unique art assets, making the player feel like they’ve stumbled onto something meaningful.

“By using the whole ‘palette,’ it’s so much easier to create levels that feel more complex and varied,” Andersen said.

We would have to agree.

HITMAN™ - ClemensIOI

Happy Lunar New Year Sale!

You can now save up to 75% on all previous Hitman titles and 37% on HITMAN 2, so please have a look around to see if there's one you'd like to revisit or add to your collection.

The offer ends Monday 11 February 2019.

Franchise Page
Feb 4, 2019
HITMAN™ - ClemensIOI
Welcome to February in HITMAN 2 – a month full of content that will give you new challenges and new rewards. Each week, you’ll be able to play something completely fresh and new in the world of assassination.

Here’s a better look at everything that’s coming your way.



Read more here: https://www.ioi.dk/hitman-2-feb-roadmap/
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