Agent 47 is back, and this time he’s not an eerily bald Timothy Olyphant Angent 47 impersonator. If you’ve pre-ordered Hitman: Absolution then you’ve possibly been playing one of the most enjoyable pre-order bonuses ever made for a video-game. Character skins? Nah. OP guns? Who needs them. Headstarts? Who cares. What could be more substantially enjoyable than a replayable mission, which gradually earns you unlocks for the main game, and places you on an international leader-board? Answer: nothing!
Square-Enix and Eidos team up to give us a little sneak peak of what’s to come in the full game, sporting its own little story line complete with variable objectives that react to your actions.
Seated above a bustling sky-line, 47 must assassinate 13 guards and a main objective target, named Strom. You’ve 15 minutes to complete the mission, but don’t try to rush because little mistakes will have the guards either suspicious or out-right panicked, and you’ll lose your 200% score multiplier. Because of this, though, I found myself restarting the mission pretty much after ever missed shot which got quite tedious and tried my patience.
Taking out the guards around the edges can be done safely and easily within about 30 seconds, leaving quite a bit of waiting for shuffling around and switching positions on the main floor. There’s a lot of detail here, and it looks great. Assuming this is a visually accurate representation of the main game, Hitman: Absolution will be a clear and pretty experience on machines from low to high spec. There aren’t too many plastered after-effects you expect from games so late in this generations life-span, which makes it a nice, clean, clear change.
Hitting shift sends you into slow motion, which allows you to plan your attack much more strategically. You’re able to slow them down and shoot ahead. You don’t really need to use this, though, and it’d be nice to have another variable score multiplier for not using it. Currently, you’re given doubles and triples depending on how you manage things. Of course, head shots will earn you much more than a body shot, and a moving head shot even more still.
Watch the way in which guards patrol, because you can’t leave a body for too long – no matter how well hidden – because one of the guards might just catch a glimpse of a shoe popping out behind a trash can, or a tree, and head over there to look. If this happens, you need to take that guard down before he spots the body. At this point however you’ll have already lost your “silent assassin” multiplier, but quitting the mission doesn’t add any points with which to unlock extended magazines for the full game.
If at any time you mess up and either a body is found, or you kill someone in plain sight, your targets will hustle and either make for the elevator in the building, or evacuate back from the helicopter. There’s plenty of time to take everyone out, and as far as I can tell there’s no way of dying, but your score is basically murdered by this action. Still, it’s worth mopping up for the extra unlock scores.
This mini-game even has its own set of in-game achievements, or challenges, which you can unlock and complete and contend with friends. At the end of every round, your score is tally’d up and shown on the leaderboard in a similar way to Max Payne 3′s arcade mode. There are also global leader boards slating the best of the Agent 47′s of the world.
Hitman Absolution: Sniper Challenge is a really stellar pre-order bonus, but it’s not quite the spectacle they perhaps make out to be. The mission is fun, for certain, and you’ll do it a good 10 times or so in a row, but I can’t see myself coming back to it to unlock all the extra’s, such as extended magazines, for the full game. I’m also not hugely keen on taking much time to nail the leader boards, with guard patterns seemingly identical each time, it just seems to be a case of memorizing the patterns or even checking out a YouTube video on what to kill. There aren’t quite enough variables in the scores, either, with no way to grab a bonus for not using slow-motion. There’s also no bullet drop at all, and no way to enable it, which will make some of you who enjoyed Sniper Elite on veteran difficulty quite antsy indeed.
Remember though, there’s no other way to get this game without pre-ordering Absolution, so if you were thinking of grabbing the main game close to release anyway, it’s definitely worth picking up for the pre-order. You’ll get a chance to benchmark your system, and basically just get an idea of what to expect. Gamers will be happy to note that the game does adapt to your actions, and you don’t simply get a fail when it doesn’t quite go to plan.