Released as a pre-order bonus for the forthcoming Hitman 2, Hitman Sniper Assassin takes the world’s best assassin, Agent 47, to Austria to crash a wedding party. Perched atop cliffside, he observes the luxury mansion, its garden and wedding guests through the scope of his silenced sniper rifle, biding the time until squeezing the trigger to take out the three targets the contract covers. Cause too much ruckus, and the targets escape the premises, giving only a narrow window of opportunity to notch them. Eyewitnesses must be avoided unless they’re one of the fifteen bodyguards who are included in the contract as bonuses, as killing civilians isn’t desirable. The name of the game is being undetected, efficient and creative.
Hitman Sniper Assassin is a self-contained minigame and has a single campaign for a solo or co-op play, viewed from a stationary third-person view behind 47’s barcoded neck and mostly through the sniper scope. There’s an infinite supply of body-piercing ammo but wall-piercing and shockwave ammunition are limited to one clip each by default. These are tools of the trade but as they say, it isn’t a gun that kills but a hand wielding it. And whose aim could be deadlier than Agent 47’s? Well, I doubt the players are natural-born killers (and custom-built from DNA for the job) so there’s a learning period to undergo to get the hang of how the sniper rifle handles. Even though the gameplay is pretty obvious and arcadey, such things as recoil and aiming in advance to take out moving targets must be accounted for.
It doesn’t take long before you’ve eliminated all the targets and fulfilled the contract (15 minutes is the time limit). So, that’s it? Thank you and see you in Hitman 2? Not necessarily. There’s a ton of replay value in improving the overall score. While you can opt for straight up approach and just shoot the targets, there’s much more flair in taking the situation and environment into account. After all, you can’t settle with the 368th place in the worldwide scoreboard after your first successful go (and probably the most basic performance) at the mission. There are several challenges with score multipliers to make most out of the contract. For example, challenges like causing an explosion to take out all three targets together or sniping seven people during the bridal waltz, give better score multipliers. There are also smaller feats to add to the score, such as shooting the wedding bouquet out of bride’s hands or disabling the lights in all visible rooms of the mansion. Killing civilians, either by purpose or by collateral damage, is deducted from the overall score. The successful runs of the mission also unlock sniper rifle and clip upgrades, with up to 20 mastery levels.
It sounds awful to say but there’s a certain primal satisfaction when things go according to your plan, with an evil smile stretched on your face and maybe a spontaneous laughter bursting out too. Sniper rifle is a cruel tool of death so thankfully the game isn’t overly graphic in its depiction of violence. Victims somersault backwards in a comic fashion when hit instead of blowing up into pieces in a spray of blood. Making the morale also less dubious are the targets who all are members of a notorious criminal gang. The narrative through Agent 47’s handler Diana’s voice-over gives frames to the party and its participants. You don’t have to feel sorry for these people.
Online co-op play has two new recruits, Knight and Stone, taking the same mission as Agent 47. While it’s a letdown that the multiplayer is for online friends only, it must have been reasoned so for being easier to communicate with someone you know than with a possibly misbehaving random player. There’s no need to feel too broken-hearted if you’re solitary assassin, though, as it’s the same campaign with the exact same conditions, challenges, feats and score multipliers. It’s still fun to take control of either Knight or Stone, as the two has some banter between them, recounting the events they see through their sniper scopes as opposed to silent and solemn 47. I hope the duo will make appearance in Hitman 2.
The visuals are neat and clean, detailing the mansion and the party it houses in a disciplined and crisp manner. It can only be described as Nordic cool as can be expected from the Danish developer IO Interactive. A subtly thumping electronic soundtrack adds to the suspense. Hitman Sniper Assassin doesn’t feast with its grim subject matter but approaches it with detachment and clinic professionalism, befitting the illustrious Agent 47. The game is a way cooler pre-order bonus than some DLC rags or weapon packs could ever be. It’s a nice little addition to Agent 47’s resume and a handsome way of killing time with and honing your killer instincts while waiting for Hitman 2.
Video game nerd & artist. I've been playing computer and video games since the early 80's so I dare say I have some perspective to them. When I'm not playing, I'm usually at my art board.