Hitman: Sniper Challenge First Impressions
- By: CM Boots-Faubert
- Posted 11th May 2012
Hitman: Sniper Challenge -- First Impressions
The announcement this week (Square Enix Announces Hitman: Sniper Challenge, GU 10 May 2012) that gamers who purchase Hitman:Absolution as a pre-order from game retailer GameStop would receive a code for their version to download a special related mini-game called Hitman: Sniper Challenge has been greeted with excitement by gamers, who it seems are genuinely excited about the upcoming release, but the tie-in for a pre-order offer with a mini-game like this is an exceptional event, and event the publisher is aware of that.
Hitman: Sniper Challenge sets a new industry standard for pre-order incentives, said Mona Hamilton, vice president of marketing at Square Enix. For all those Hitman fans that just cant wait to play Hitman: Absolution, they can immediately take part in an exclusive competition featuring the original assassin when they pre-order at GameStop.
Developed by IO Interactive A/S (a Square Enix studio), Hitman: sniper Challenge is not part of the main game, but a stand-alone experience that rewards fans who pre-order Hitman:Absolution. The game includes an online leaderboard that allows players to compare their sniping abilities both with their friends and with a national and global ranking, and there are monthly prizes being offered for the best score achieved, but that is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg!
Not only can gamers who pre-order the game and thus obtain a code for and play the Sniper Challenge win prizes, but they have the opportunity to unlock abilities and items within the mini-game that will directly transfer into the retail game when it is released. And in addition to that, the highest scoring Assassin in the mini-game has the chance to be selected to fly to Copenhagen, Denmark where they will meet with the Hitman development team and have their likeness incorporated into the next Hitman game. Cool that.
In the mini-game players don the suit of Agent 47 as he takes on an exclusive assassination assignment. From a balcony overlooking a rooftop gathering, players are tasked with taking out Richard Strong, Jr., CEO of Stallion Armaments, along with his entire staff of bodyguards. Skilled players will capitalize on score multipliers, hidden secrets, unlock equipment upgrades and marvel at the many creative ways one can discretely dispose of a body while they work to fulfil their contract in the most efficient way possible.
-- First Impressions --
We requested a code for the mini-game from Square Enix, a studio and publisher that is very good about working with games journos on pieces like this, and we were not surprised when we received a pair of codes (so we could experience the friendly competition side of the game). It should not surprise our readers that within moments of that email being received we were downloading the game onto Xbox 360's in the GU Bullpen.
While we wanted to be able to show you screens and videos (and we will soon) early access to the game (it does not actually start public release until May 15th) means that it has embargo rules applied, and in this case that means no screens, no videos, until the 15th. But we can tell you about the game, and our impression! In the interest of transparency and full disclosure we should point out that pretty much all of the staff here are or have been at one time, fans of the games in the series. The fact that all of us have unlocked every single Achievement in Hitman: Blood Money should make that clear, so you will appreciate that there was more than simply journalistic interest present here...
Since it was a digital title there was no unboxing, just punching the code in on our chatpads and then waiting while its almost 800MB of tasty gaming goodness moved from the secret servers at The Agency to our consoles in the Bullpen. While this was going on we did other work-related things -- really Richard, we did! Nobody just sat around exchanging favorite moments from past Hitman games, Heather did not go out and buy a case of Mexican Coke in glass bottles and then use the freezer to get them chilled faster, and as far as the broken microwave goes, it must have been the cleaning staff that comes in at night mate, it wasn't us. Work got done I tell you!
When the game finished its download and install we gathered around the TV like it was Christmas, but of course anyone who has read Animal Farm knows that some of us animals are more equal than others, so I got first play. After a fascinating CS plays out the real world resolved and found us sitting on a rooftop as, on the roof of a building across the street, a helicopter landed bearing our target. A party is going on on the other roof and there are a lot of innocent civilians present, as well as a half-dozen (or more, who can really say?) security people who work for the target.
Our orders as outlined by our Agency contact are to take out the principle target and his security people, and as any smart Assassin would do, I zoomed on with the scope on my rifle and tried to spot the feds.. Err... Security guys. Hell, they look like feds, but they are not, actually what they are to put a find point upon it are moving targets.
The main target gets off of the chopper with two of his goons -- taking them out was rather easy as, accounting for bullet drop and windage I put one round through his head that ended up going through it and then into the throat of one of his guards, so cool bonus! Two for the price of one and that unlocked one of the challenges in the game! Score!
After taking the third target out by the chopper the guests began to scatter, as did the other security guys, with some of them standing their ground and scanning the surrounding buildings for me, while others made their way towards the exits like the nancy-boys they are! To get a better score you really have to take out the ones that are running away before you start shooting the ones who are shooting blindly at the surrounding rooftops.
Here at GU we have a democratic system in place -- I get to play first, but then everyone else gets to take a turn, so I only actually got to play the game a half-dozen times before it was time to clock out for the day, but in that six-odd plays I discovered that as simple as it is, and as basic as the assignment was, it still has that patented grab-you-by-the-boys and pull you in capability that the main games have in the series.
For a brief few minutes I felt like I was Agent 47 once again, and I swear that I could smell the exhaust fumes floating up from the street, and feel the breeze on my face as I aimed down the scope of the high-powered Kazo TRG sniper rifle (which you actually get to keep and take forward with you into Hitman: Absolution when you get it!), and I knew in my heart that these were bad men, and that I was doing this virtual world a favor by ending them. And if I got a bonus score or unlocked a new ability? Well, so much the better!
In addition to the rather nifty Kazo TRG you get to import into the main game, you also get to keep any of the abilities you have unlocked, and there may be other elements that transfer in, it is not entirely clear just yet how much carries forward, but we are sure that Square will fill us in on that eventually.
The reality here is pretty simple: gamers will be able to pre-order Hitman: Absolution from May 15th and will be able to play Hitman: Sniper Challenge from May 15th through access to Xbox LIVE or PlayStation Network. PC gamers will have to be a bit more patient as the PC version will be made available through Steam from August 1st. If you are a gamer living outside of the USA the terms of the pre-order program will be set by the individual retailers in your country where Hitman: Absolution is available for pre-order, so you will need to check around to see where it is you can pre-order to score yourself a code for this awesome little game.
For the record, my best score so far is 189,560 -- which was the record in the Bullpen for something like twenty minutes... Sigh. I may have to go in over the weekend to work on... Stuff...