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Hannibal Preview
game: Hannibal
posted by: Aaron Stanton
date posted: 09:10 AM Thu Jun 5th, 2003
last revision: 07:08 AM Fri Sep 23rd, 2005

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Most of us are only familiar with the film version of Hannibal. Try asking people if they\'ve ever read the text version of the Thomas Harris novel, and you\'ll witness what it\'s like for grown-ups to relive high school, ad-libbing a book report based on their last movie rental. \"Sure,\" they stumble, looking forlorn. \"The sequel to Silence of the Lambs. He cuts off his own hand at the end, right?\" Buzzzzzzzz. Incorrect. The movie and the book agree on a common ending about as well as Stephen Limbaugh Sr. and I agree in our opinions of \"Resident of Evil Creek\".

In a word or two: lots and lots of difference.

Yet if you\'re like me, inclined to be outside this summer adding color to my fantastically pale skin, you need not fear. Those of us who aren\'t planning on reading while it\'s sunny out (such short, sweet hours), be it because we are illiterate or simply realize that true happiness can be found in the depths of our superficial exterior image (I find that sunbathing with a book on hand often lends an appearance of intellectualism to my bountiful muscles and chiseled features), needn\'t worry about not knowing the actual ending of Hannibal. Coming this November, when chill and overcast drive all but the most dedicated amongst us indoors, Arxel Tribe intends to come to our rescue, scaring the bejeebus out of us with the release of Hannibal: The Game.

Drawing inspiration from a variety of sources, Hannibal is a first person shooter with what promises to be an incredible mix of story, action, and creep factor. Containing scenes and extrapolations from the movie, the book, and the other titles in the series, Hannibal allows the player to experience the life of Clarice Starling first hand.

\"If you read the book,\" says Elise Gomez of Arxel Tribe, directing me to a screen showing a rather unpleasant dream sequence depicting slaughtered lambs hanging from meat hooks, \"it\'s pretty evident that it ends differently than the movie.\" How differently? Let\'s just say that those who are only familiar with Agent Starling from the movie might be surprised to discover how bad she can be. Not suggesting that those of us versed in the literature have no surprises to look forward to; Hannibal has four distinctly different endings, depending on the actions of the player as they make their way through the game.

\"As an FBI agent, you can show them your badge and arrest them,\" says the fellow kind enough to show me an alpha of the game. \"Or you can ignore the FBI rules, and just shoot them. Doing that will increase your stress.\" As your stress levels increase, odd effects begin to happen, including shaking hands, and hallucinations similar to the GameCube\'s Eternal Darkness.

As important as the interesting story of the book, the disturbing visual styles of the movie that make an appearance in the game add to the deep-seated sense of unease one gets watching the gameplay. Based on the No One Lives Forever 2 engine, Hannibal allows the game designers a wide range of freedom to create levels and imagery that fits well with the visual images made popular in the movie, and the story elements presented by the book. From the initial cut scenes and demonstrated gameplay, Hannibal appears to be well on its way to matching the suspenseful style of the movies. In many ways, the game looks to be as skillfully directed as the film version. That will make Hannibal a game that one either should (or should not) play alone, at night, with your back to the open window.

While I was able to see only the action-oriented elements of the game, including the raid of the drug lab that opens the movie, the development team promises to inject a heavy dose of adventure elements into the gameplay. If they manage to pull it off, it\'s very possible that the final product may make as engaging a story as its source, allowing us fans to re-experience familiar images, and experience for the first times extrapolations that were never fully explained in either the movie or the book (what ever did happen to Dr. Chilton, for example? I mean, really?).

In choosing to develop Hannibal as First Person Shooter, it may seem that Arxel Tribe has decided to orient the game towards a more heavily action driven storyline. While this may be true, anyone who has ever played Alien Doom can tell you that FPS can be one of the most engaging and immersive styles there is. There\'s nothing like a surround sound system as you\'re stocked, staring through the eyes of the victim, or breathing through the nose of the hunter. As one of the most intimidating and complex of all villains, Hannibal deserves a chance to disembowel the average person, and Hannibal: The Game looks to offer just that chance.

So while we sunbath this summer, and I show off my impressive physical features, don\'t grow too comfortable. Soon the cold will come, the days will grow short and numbered, and one of the most deadly minded players in the business will be watching you, waiting for you, and in the end, he may eat you.

P.S. For a more accurate description of this writer\'s actual body type, not to mention personality traits, you can read the Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel preview.