It’s time to don the iconic black suit, white shirt and red tie of Agent 47 as we bring Hitman: Sniper for iOS and Android squarely into our sights.
Fans of the Hitman franchise should be well versed in the experience offered up by Hitman: Sniper. As the title suggests, you serve as the titular assassin, tasked with taking out targets via sniper rifle from a fixed vantage point above the luxury real estate of Montenegro.
To help settle into your role as ‘47’, your handler from the ICA (International Contracts Agency), Diana is as ever, in your ear, feeding you information on your target and your surroundings. She not only helps add an element of narrative to the fundamental objective of ‘shoot this person,’ but she’ll help keep tabs on your surrounds too; warning you of the increased risk of triggering an alarm or startling a civilian who’ll cry for help if spooked by the discovery of a dead body or bullets whizzing past their head.
And therein lies the fundamental gameplay of Hitman Assassin. From your vantage point you can zoom in on your desired target through the scope of your rifle or interact with the environment (by shooting stuff) to distract or disarm the guards surrounding them.
The game works on a points system, scoring you not just for accuracy (naturally headshots are always the highest scoring squishy bit), but on your creativity too. You can lure a guard out from cover by setting off a car alarm or take out a fuse box causing it to short in an unsuspecting enemy’s face. Linger too long on taking out an alerted guard and he’ll call for the VIP, aka, your target to make a swift exit, at which point you’ll have a matter of seconds to track, aim and take them out before they zoom off, out of sight in what resembles a McLaren sports car (you have good taste Square Enix).
For the most part the game is immersive and engrossing. This mobile title shrugs off the stylised aesthetics of Hitman GO and opts for more realistic visuals, with detailed models, particle effects and so on.
A polished audio experience also works wonders too, with both the score ramping up the tension, the sound effects of Agent 47’s controlled breathing and Diana’s excellent voice acting all working together to place you firmly in the world of Hitman, even though you’re viewing it through the relatively tiny screen of your smartphone.
With regards to progressing through the game, each mission (there are currently 150) outlines a primary target and a set of secondary challenges; from racking up a certain score in a certain time, to disabling guards through scenery to pick an x-ray kill.
At any point killing the prime target will end the mission, which if you’re too eager means that ultimately you fail, assuming you haven’t already ticked off the other tasks on your deadly to-do list.
Between taking out your primary target and the mission actually ending there’s a point called ‘extraction’ too, where you can continue to take out enemies and score a few extra points before the screen fades to black.
As ever, points mean prizes and the money you accrue can be spent on upgrading your existing rifle’s fire rate, stability, clip size and your scope’s maximum level of zoom. As you unlock a higher level on your weapon you also unlock perks and abilities specific to that weapon; such as shots that instantaneously hit their targets when you pull the trigger or the ability to jam the guard’s radios when they try and call for help (for a short time at least).
Eventually however, you’ll max out your existing weapon’s capabilities and the only way to unlock a new rifle (there are 13 to acquire in total) is be gathering intel. By taking out speciality targets alongside the prime target during each mission you get the chance to unlock intel, which is used to accumulate gun parts. You can even gather intel from failed missions.
The more parts of a certain gun you gather the closer you get to assembling that gun and as Diana explains early on in the game, if you acquire a gun part you already own, you’ll be given its monetary value instead.
No matter what gun you’re using, at some point during each mission you’ll eventually run out of bullets and in Hitman: Sniper even reloading becomes a sort of mini-game, giving you QTEs (quick time events) that have you swipe in specific directions to reload your gun rapidly without jamming it. Essential if you’re trying to take out a moving target, infuriating if you end up missing them whilst you fumble with some fresh rounds.
There’s also a social element should you wish to square off against your friends via Facebook integration, which keeps tabs of your collective scores to decide who is the deadliest hitman and beyond that it’s simply a case of playing the game for yourself.