In case you missed it with the barrage of E3 news and leaks, Hitman 2 was announced this week. And while even the hint of a new Hitman game set off the inner Agent 47 fanboy in me, the announcement of a free Hitman sniper experience for those who pre-ordered the game left me stunned. Hitman: Sniper Assassin is that little gem. Developer IO Interactive chose to pack-in the hand-crafted experience with each digital pre-order of Hitman 2. While it is much smaller than the previous Hitman game, Sniper Assassin still delivers a succinct mercenary experience that will draw from the best episodes of its predecessor.
Let’s hit the backdrop first. Publisher Warner Bros. Games released a piece of teaser footage for a new game announcement on Twitter earlier this week.
Let the countdown begin//72:00:00
— WB Games (@wbgames) June 4, 2018
Of course, this paired up with a very similar message from the official Hitman Twitter account.
Good afternoon, 47. The profiles have been uploaded. Your next target is… pic.twitter.com/0l1Tyu4gho
— HITMAN (@Hitman) June 4, 2018
The WB Games post on Twitter (as seen above) has some footage which showed a pit crew working on a car and a racer zipping up his suit. While this was meant to hide the true reveal for Hitman 2, the simultaneous message from the Hitman account had a couple of us certain these were showing a new Hitman game. And yes, this was before the unofficial Hitman 2 leak that hit the internet shortly after.
What I initially imagined was we would see a clip of Agent 47 sabotaging his target’s race car and then watching in awe as it fell apart while accelerating beyond 200 mph. The thought was something I had mentioned in a previous story. I mentally prepped myself for a long wait to play this new content — assuming it wasn’t just a cinematic trailer. One thing I wasn’t expecting? A sniper-based mission available that week.
Hitman: Sniper Assassin starts strong out the gate. This stems from the fact that it carries over the user interface from the previous Hitman title. The music and background of the title screen were pretty much the same as before. In fact, so was preparing for your mission and checking out your global rankings and challenges sheet.
Even though the UI was still solid, I was not looking forward to atrocious loading screens as seen from the previous Hitman on my standard PS4. When Hitman first released in 2016, it was easily the most frustrating element for me from the entire series. Thankfully, each update seemed to cut down on that time — but there was never a catch-all solution.
Luckily, Hitman: Sniper Assassin does not follow this same recipe. By that, I mean that you won’t die of old age waiting for the next stage to render. Load times are short in this experience, especially when you complete the level or reach a fail state. This is easily one of the best quality of life enhancements in terms of offering a solid gameplay loop. Thanks to shorter load times, I was allowed to continue my sniping in succession without being drawn out of the experience to play on my phone or glance at some social media fluff in between. Let’s hope IO Interactive continues this trend for Hitman 2 when it releases.
The game begins with Agent 47 and a scoped rifle in hand. You do not move him around like in other Hitman games, but rather, you use his special tools of vision to find your targets shining in yellow and red and then dispatch them at your own pace.
It’s almost too easy to make foolish decisions in this sniping experience. Every target is easy to kill, but your bullets sometimes do more damage than intended. Capping a target that is surrounded by other wedding guests will often give you a loss in points because the variety of ammunition can either puncture more than one person or even destroy whole crowds at once. Killing a target can gain you a minimum of 500 points, but killing a civilian takes away a few thousand. Without a doubt, being patient with your shots truly pays off.
There are three different types of ammunition available to the players: Body-Piercing, Wall-Piercing, and Shockwave rounds. Pressing right or left on the control pad allows you to change between the different types and leveling up by scoring points each round gives you additional rounds in each cartridge down the road. The Body-Piercing rounds cannot go through walls, but they can go through several human meat-shields if they are all lined up correctly.
The Wall-Piercing rounds can also cut through piles of flesh, but include the ability to cut through different solid objects. Everyone who tries Hitman: Sniper Assassin for more than a few matches will get the opportunity to try and clean up their mess when they botch-up a shot or two. The enemy guards and even random civilians who witness the crime will notify others and then your main targets will try and escape in the frenzy. The Wall-Piercing rounds come in handy during these times when targets flee into rooms of the mansion or even try and escape by hiding behind the limousine or helicopter.
Shockwave rounds are the last of the three and can be a dodgy ingredient in the world of Hitman: Sniper Assassin. The round explodes on contact and has a decent radius of attack, ventilating every nearby civilian into walls of swiss cheese, including the target you shot. Just because the exploding round can get you into trouble doesn’t mean they’re not fun. Some of the best moment with Hitman: Sniper Assassin includes gaining an additional two rounds for my cartridge after achieving level 7 (because of how few you start with at level 1).
I would often miss my opportunity to knock a guy over a ledge to hide his body, but the Shockwave ammo would sometimes launch the ragdoll corpses over high walls that the other types were unable to do (because hiding bodies gives you lots of points). Much like the Rubber Ducky Explosive or any other variety of boom-booms from previous Hitman games, the Shockwave Ammo is both a very useful tool and sinister laugh-machine, depending on the player.
There are multiple ways Agent 47 can kill without applying puncture wounds to his targets. Explosive propane cans can be ignited, chandelier chains can be broken, suspended speaker boxes fall on people when you shoot them, and you can execute through electrocution by sabotaging sidewalk lights and sprinkler systems. These different modes of killing give bonus points, just like headshots or multi-kills. Every form of destruction you unleash on your opponents is also paired with multiplier bonuses, including the coveted Silent Assassin award which doubles your total score when finished.
Hitman: Sniper Assassin is very easy to pick up and play. Without a doubt, newcomers and veterans alike can find a lot of replay value and challenge when stepping into the shoes of Agent 47 in this short, but deep action-fueled riot.
Hitman 2 will release on November 13 for PC, PS4, and Xbox One; pre-ordering the game will land you a copy of Hitman 2: Sniper Assassin.