Hitman 2 is coming in November, but eager assassins can test their skills on an entirely new level. A mode called Sniper Assassin is available to people who pre-order the game, offering a little puzzlebox of trick shots and stealth. Just like anything in Hitman, it’s often at its best when things go wrong.
In Sniper Assassin, you have 15 minutes to take down some targets and their bodyguards. Agent 47 sticks behind the scope of his sniper rifle and must scan the crowd for his targets while waiting for the perfect time to pull the trigger. There’s only one level at the moment: a spacious mansion hosting a wedding, packed with guards and secrets. You can go guns blazing and shoot targets as fast as possible, but the experience is more rewarding if you try to keep calm. Timing your shots at the right moment, such as when your target is standing near a railing, allows you to hide their bodies and avoid detection. If you’re careful, you can pick off targets one by one without anyone knowing.
I played today with Chris Person in a loose session where things didn’t go so smoothly. Sometimes, you’ll misjudge how much you need to lead your shots or fire a few seconds too late. When you do, the level erupts into chaos, transforming the experience into a reflex test similar to the arcade classic Silent Scope. But there’s fun to be had with that chaos. Scrambling to swap your ammo to wall-piercing rounds and killing someone with a trick shot feels like one hell of an achievement.
I want to pull off a perfectly executed playthrough, but I’m just as eager to find the sillier things in Sniper Assassin. One playthrough, Chris and I spotted an antsy base jumper on a mountain who was more interested in drinking beer than jumping off the cliff. The next playthrough, I decided to shoot his bottle, and instead of wasting time with booze he took the leap. Between the challenge of assassinations and these hidden stories, Sniper Assassin mode is a great way to get back into Hitman.