Hitman: Sniper Challenge Review

Pre-order incentives are all the rage these days, and with Hitman: Absolution around the corner, Square Enix are offering Hitman: Sniper Challenge as their pre-order incentive. Sniper Challenge is a downloadable game available on PSN, Xbox LIVE or Steam and certainly makes you want Hitman: Absolution now rather than later. So what exactly is it?

Well initially it wasn’t supposed to be anything more than a fun game that was played within the development office. However, it was played so much that they thought it had to be included in some way, and so it was, Sniper Challenge was chosen as your pre-order incentive.

As the title suggests, it’s all about sniping, which if you’re a fan of the Hitman series, will know that sniping is just one of the skills Agent 47 has acquired over the years. It won’t take long before you’re thrown straight into the action and with no tutorials you really just need to wing it for the first few attempts, until you understand exactly what is happening and what you require to do.

Your brief is simple yet detailed. You have 15 minutes to kill the target, who is a highly ranked weapons dealer, and as many of his bodyguards as possible. To make it more exciting the game is points based, so ‘style’ kills are the best way to top the leaderboards, for example: you can shoot chains holding barrels of tequila and if timed to perfection, they can land on a bodyguard below giving you a ‘barrel’ load of points. There are also a shed-load of challenges within the game to help you boost your multiplier total, ranging from shooting five pigeons to shooting three ducks that have been strategically placed around the level. This points structure provides as much replay value as possible and works really well in this type of game format.

In true Hitman style everything is in great detail. Shooting power boxes next to lifts give you further options when deciding how to kill your targets and it really puts the power into the hands of the player. Despite the majority of the bodyguards having their set routines, you can literally affect the game with every shot. Leaving a body in the open will trigger suspicion from other guards, which means you’ll need to dispose of them too, otherwise the full alarm will be triggered and everybody will flea.

The graphics are also extremely good… from what you can see. Bare in mind you’re sitting on the rooftop and are never face to face with your targets. Most of your time will be viewing through the scope of your sniper rifle, yet the individual detail put into the game’s surroundings is impressive.

Now for the down side. There’s only one level to play. The concept of the game is great, and it leaves you itching for more of the same, but sadly there’s nothing but the choice to replay the same level over and over again. Yes the points based scoring and online leaderboards with your friends help prolong the life of that one level, but it won’t keep you playing for too long. I know the game is free with everyone who pre-orders, but I don’t think many people would disagree with the idea of four or five levels being available and turn it into an Xbox LIVE Arcade game for 400MS Points. That’s just my view, but one I think could have worked really well for this game.

With that said, I suppose the title did what it was supposed to do. It put me in the mood for some more Hitman and it makes me want it right now. The Sniper Challenge isn’t part of Hitman: Absolution so it’s definitely worth pre-ordering if you’re a fan of the series. Asides from the fact there’s only one level, the game is fun and addictive and it’s not a bad incentive to pre-order Hitman: Absolution. Better than some extra guns anyway, that’s for sure.

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