It’s a nice day for a red wedding.
Hitman 2 is here! Sort of. True, it doesn’t release until November but if you pre-order the game you can get your hands on Hitman 2: Sniper Assassin, a rather nifty piece of bonus content. As Agent 47, the bald, barcoded genetically enhanced assassin, you’re tasked with taking out three former armed robbers and as many of their bodyguards as possible.
But, unlike the main Hitman game, you don’t have the freedom to stalk your targets throughout a location. Instead, you’re perched on a cliff, looking down on an Austrian mansion, sniper-rifle in hand. You’ve got 15 minutes to take out your targets by gazing down the scope and either ending them with a bullet or using your firepower to arrange an “accident” or two.
IO Interactive and Square Enix engaged in a similar promotional endeavour when they launched Hitman: Absolution, giving those who pre-ordered access to Hitman: Sniper Challenge. Sniper Assassin is larger in scope than its predecessor and while there’s only one level contained in this pre-order package, there’s a ridiculous number of things to do.
While I didn’t get to try out the game’s two-player co-op mode (a split-screen option would have been appreciated), I spent several hours joyfully causing chaos amongst the guests who were attending the levels’ wedding. I resisted the urge to create my own Game of Thrones style Red Wedding, but the bride’s bouquet and and wedding cake were both on the receiving end of a high-powered bullet.
Silliness aside, there are multiple ways to dispatch your targets. The Hitman series has always been about stealth and since you can’t leave your post you have to resort to more creative means to hide the bodies of your targets. You’re provided with explosive shock ammo which is especially handy for flinging your foes corpses over a wall and out of sight.
I was a little disappointed that accidents, such as someone being crushed by a falling speaker, were enough to alert the other targets; in 2017’s Hitman, you can happily cause accidents without being rumbled. But getting away with murder (just the bad guys, mind you) was as much of a joy as ever. As was discovering the multiple easter eggs in the demo, such as the plastic ducks that are concealed around the area.
Another welcome feature of Sniper Assassin, and it’s something I hope makes it into the final game, is that you can alter a character’s routine; not merely by killing them but by interfering with something else in the level. I discovered that sniping a cage full of doves not only released the animals in question but their disappearance pushed the bride over the edge. Throwing a fit at the altar, she called the wedding off, causing her father, one of the main targets, to alter his path around the level. Which, I quickly discovered, made it easier to divorce his head from his shoulders without anyone noticing.
Is Hitman 2: Sniper Assassin fun? Definitely. Is it worth pre-ordering the game for? Maybe not, but if you’ve already pre-ordered Hitman 2 then it serves as a gleefully entertaining opportunity to return to the world of Hitman. Making a chandelier to fall and crush all three targets at once had me punching the air with joy, as did many of the other shenanigans the game let me get up to. How it’s expanded upon within the final game, if at all, remains to be seen. But if you’re finding it hard waiting ’til November then Sniper Assassin, highly replayable as it is, will help tide you over till then.