It‚Äôs not often a pre-order bonus is a full game in itself. Sure it‚Äôs cool to get an additional mission when the game comes out, but rarely do we get the opportunity to play a mission and challenges pack before the title comes out. Square Enix and IO Interactive have really outdone themselves this time.
I am a huge fan of the Hitman series, and my favourite mission was in Hitman 2, where you have to snipe a target from an opposite building. Sounds simple enough, but it had a twist... you had no idea which target in the room full of military generals was the one you were supposed to take out. So as you watched the meeting proceed, your contact (lovely English rose Diana Burnwood) would describe in your earpiece the various personal aspects of the target to you as she received them herself - a reference to the film Nikita.
Thankfully this sort of clever premise is exactly what's involved in Hitman Sniper Challenge. You have a target, guarded by a 14-strong team, who patrol various areas of the building rooftop. The target arrives by helicopter to his penthouse, where a dance party is being hosted.
The mission is to take out all the guards and the target without arousing any suspicion, all within 15 minutes and with a large group of witnesses dancing and mingling around the party. Any suspicion has to be dealt with swiftly to keep the situation under control.
To achieve this, Agent 47 has situated himself on a rooftop across from the party with a view of the whole building, sitting in his trademark crossed legs ‚ÄėIndian style‚Äô, and armed with his trusty silenced sniper rifle. You cannot get up and move around from this position, but instead you aim down your sights by pressing the left trigger and shoot with the right trigger. Pulling lightly on the fire button will result in a momentary slow down of time and you will gain more stability of the rifle scope. You also have the ability to use ‚ÄėInstinct‚Äô, which allows you to see targets through walls - a new feature to Hitman Absolution.
The idea is that you take out the guards while they lean over the building edges, pools or other special areas where they are hidden from view when you shoot them. For instance, if you shoot the elevator controls you can open the doors...and if a guard is in front of that elevator, you can then shoot him to make him lose his balance and fall backwards into the shaft. There's lots of these cunning ways for you to discover how to take out targets and hide the bodies.
There are also other challenges presented in this downloadable gem. For instance, smaller more difficult targets are available for you to try and hunt down in the large level area. These include rubber ducks, pigeons, garden gnomes, and stripper clothing. (Yes, you read that right.) There's also a few videogame and pop culture references hidden in the level too, for the sharp eyed.
Once you either take out all targets, or they have all fled the area when you are detected, you are scored on your performance, which is then uploaded to the leaderboards. Completing challenges will award you score multipliers, and the higher the score you get, the more ‚Äėunlocks‚Äô you receive for both Hitman: Sniper Challenge and Hitman: Absolution.
For a pre-order bonus this is by far one of the most worthwhile we‚Äôve seen so far - and one of the best looking visually. Hopefully this sort of pre-order deal becomes a trend with other franchise titles. It feels more than a ‚Äėdemo‚Äô and actually has some substance behind it; for a free downloadable title, it‚Äôs pretty impressive.
If you're craving a hit, man, this sure gets the blood pumping for what is still to come...
The Good: A classic mission, and it‚Äôs just a teaser!
The Bad: There's only so many hours in the day
The Ugly: Who do I have to kill to get more?