Hitman: Absolution is certain to be an anticipated item this year. Square Enix is taking the series elsewhere, away from the coveted shadows and into a brighter spot. Before that day is here, where we can judge whether Agent 47 can brawl his way into the top assassin list, the publisher released a pre-game-preorder bonus…game. It’s the first in its kind to really offer an actual, sizable portion of gameplay, instead of some social media tie-in or quick demo experience. Hitman: Sniper Challenge is a small game in its own merit, with its own list of challenges and incentives.
Its premise is simple: Agent 47 is perched upon a rooftop overlooking a penthouse complex and it’s his job to take out the designated target covertly, along with any of the other challenges. It’s one mission, one position. Still, in its simplicity it already offers everything known from the franchise and that with expert detail. The level design is versatile and opens up multiple approaches and that even without the ability to move. As guards approach the ledge of the complex, a swift shot through the back of head will send them careening over the edge and onto a distant pavement; effectively hiding their body from sight. More so, the apartment where the target’s party is in full effect is filled with little individual aspects and most bear an importance to the challenges. The fun part here is that it offers a myriad of things beyond its primary objective. Just exploring the environment for hidden secrets is half the fun already.
The second half of the entertainment comes from doing the job and doing it well. The better and more silent the kill, the more points get added to the bragging post on the leaderboards. Headshots and moving targets chalk up more respect and making sure the bodies are never seen again add additional kudos. More so, completing challenges such as pigeon or rubber duck assassination unlock new snippets of content that add to the replay value and to a multiplier. This steadily builds up the envy to continue and find yet another way to murder an entire party of bodyguards and dignitaries.
It’s not as simple as simply aiming and shooting though, because this game scatters ways to mess up across the entire map. If anyone sees a shot fired, a body or something else goes amiss, then hell breaks loose and that’s not good for the agency and that in turn detracts from the score. This also is true for shooting civilians. However fun it can be to release the inner psychopath; the game does an expert job of keeping players interested in the task at hand only. Additionally, should some targets elope or get obstructed by scenery; Agent 47 can call upon his intuition to mark where the targets are currently placed.
In all, a mission round only takes up a few minutes, but those minutes are filled with suspense. One wrong move, just one tiny slip means a drastically lowered score. Getting this precious high score is the reason to keep the adrenaline flowing and the palms sweaty. Still, fooling around and just being ridiculous is entertaining as well, as the level design paired with the challenges offer something for all tastes. What is certain however is that this miniature game is gripping and has a certain addictive taste to it.
If Hitman: Sniper Challenge is an omen of things to come, then we’re going to be blessed with Hitman: Absolution, because this thing is killer (pun intended). A clear-cut presentation, precise gameplay and great replay value make this first foray into the pregame genre a roaring success for Square Enix. Now let’s hope this trend does not run out of hand and everyone can at least match the high standard shown here.