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Hitman: Sniper Assassin Is A Substantial Pre-Order Bonus (First Impressions)
A substantial pre-order bonus
But we did not know that it is a separate game client, which in hindsight makes sense. Hitman: Sniper Assassin, the official game title, is already available if you pre-order the game, which should be live soon for PS Store Asia for those playing on PS4.
I have played the game, and suffice to say, it’s a rather substantial pre-order bonus that could be a stepping stone for the series to grow bigger and better as a separate, but complimentary, package to Hitman 2.
But first, some context. IO Interactive once release a mini-game called Hitman: Sniper Challenge to coincide the launch of Hitman Absolution. Using the same engine from Absolution, the premise is simple: you have one map, protagonist Agent 47 is stationary at a sniper nest overlooking a location and all you do is scope the place and get the required kills. Then in 2015 they made a mobile game using the same concept. Together with Square Enix Montreal, Hitman: Sniper plays similarly to Sniper Challenge, albeit with more touch control gimmicks.
The same applies to Hitman: Sniper Assassin. It’s the same premise, again, but this time it is build upon the foundations of Hitman 2016. From the menus, the UI and the controls, the presentation of its targets, it feels like playing in a Hitman 2016 map, only you can’t move.
The one map you’ll be playing in is in Austria, at a mansion where three targets are to be roaming about for a wedding reception. You have 15 minutes to execute them, plus the many bodyguards that are patrolling the map. But it’s not a rush for time, but rather a game of picking the best moments.
Similar to the other Hitman Sniper games, you are rewarded with a score for how well a kill is. A normal kill gives you points, but more points are added if it’s a headshot, and more if you nail them while they are moving, and plus more if the body is then hidden- either through the amazingly exaggerated impact from your body-piercing ammos or by shooting the body a couple of times to have fall into a pond or over a balcony.
And this being build on top of Hitman 2016 means there’s more environmental kill opportunities. Shoot a circuits out of an outdoor lamp and it will short circuit and explode. Shooting a chandelier will have it come crashing down. And there’s also opportunities in general.
Opportunities in Hitman games enable players to manipulate certain events so that 47 can access something that helps get closer to the target, or alter the target’s activity schedule so they go to more opportunistic locations. The same applies here. You can shoot certain items to trigger a change, mostly to your own benefit. Or you can shoot the ground and walls to have them out of their patrol lines and lure them closer to more advantageous places, like near a balcony or beside a window.
It’s fun experimenting with what the things you can do. For instance, there’s a flagpole near a maze garden where you can shoot it to raise a flag, triggering an event where two of the targets meet at the center of the garden opening a 2-for-1 kill chance. A nice sound queue will trigger when you find these hidden opportunities.
There are not just for fun, as doing as many of the opportunities and challenges which includes finding and shooting three hidden rubber ducks and 47 (hah!) pots scattered around the map. The more you do the more score you’ll gain. If you managed to take out all the targets and do it without being spotted, you’ll get the Silent Assassin multiplier that will double your score.
You can also play it in co-op. With two players, you’ll be playing the duo of Knight and Stone. The map remains the same but with two snipers you can coordinate and do simultaneous kills. Now you can kill both a target and an escorting guard in one go, should both shots hit, of course. It’s a long-range sniper rifle where bullet drop and travel are factors to consider when you take aim.
While playing solo as 47 gives you access to all the different special ammo types and an additional zoom, playing as Knight and Stone will split the ammo types between the two, which should force you and your friend to co-operate closely.
And that’s strictly you and your friend. At the moment, co-op is branded as in beta and you can only play with your friends who pre-order the game and have access to Sniper Assassin. It is also using peer-to-peer networking, I received a warning about my NAT type as I enter the co-op menu which does not bode well if your internet is spotty or has the dreaded NAT issues.
All in all, as a pre-order bonus, Hitman: Sniper Assassin is certainly a strong showing. It is limited to one map, however, and replayability, like Hitman 2016 was and Hitman 2 will be, entirely relies on you having the drive of doing a better run or wanting to explore and experiment with new ways to murder. There’s potential here- if the mode gets updated with more maps it will be a fun diversion.
Sniper Assassin is a nice appetiser for Hitman 2, which, judging from how this mode feels right now, should be a new and refined Hitman 2016 without the episodic release.
Hitman 2 will be out on November 13th for the PS4, PC and Xbox One. Access to Hitman: Sniper Assassin is available now by pre-ordering Hitman 2.
Impressions based on the PS4 version, played on a base PS4. Review copy provided by the publisher