Agent 47 is nearly back in his first fully fledged outing since Blood Money, but if you want to get a small taste of 47 action now you can play Sniper Challenge, the innovative pre-order bonus for Hitman: Absolution. I’ve been playing around with the sniper mini-game, and I am quite impressed with the ideas behind it.
The choice of Sniper Challenge as the pre-order bonus is a much more attractive proposition than the recent trend of retailer exclusive missions or bonus multiplayer maps. Not only do you get to have a play around in the shoes of 47 once more (although in a limited arena), but your success in Sniper Challenge unlocks items for Absolution. As a pre-order bonus, it is probably the best one out there, and I wouldn’t mind seeing more pre-order bonuses follow the lead of Sniper Challenge. I would much rather get something I can play now when I pre-order than a bonus level for the final game, something which will often end up being released for free later on in a Game of the Year edition.
Of course, it would be even better if Sniper Challenge had been released as a pure demo, but if you cancel your pre-order you still get to play the challenge, which is really quite an enjoyable experience.
You take the shoes of Agent 47 with the task of eliminating your target and as many of his bodyguards as possible as they wander around a party in the building across from 47′s location. There is a fifteen minute time limit on the mission, and while you will be successful if you kill your main target, to get the most points from the mission you will want to take out as many of his bodyguards as possible, in the most silent way possible.
This might involve shooting a guard walking on the edge of the building to make him fall off the building, or shooting an elevators control panel to open the door and then shooting a guard who might fall down the elevator shaft. While there may be worry amongst fans that the trailers for Absolution are showing off too much action and not enough stealth, the possibilities for stealthy kills in this one mission should calm some fears.
Beyond completing the hit, you will want to go back time and again to complete various challenges (shoot the pigeon anyone?) which provide a permanent score bonus to aid you in climbing the leaderboards. Or, better than that, you will want to steadily increase your total score to unlock new sniper rifle tools which will also be unlocked in Absolution.
Sniper Challenge might only be a pre-order bonus, but it is a very good experience by itself, and you can unlock bonuses for Absolution. This is an example of what can be done with pre-order bonuses, and hopefully one that others will follow in due course.