A few days ago, Square revealed an interesting pre-order bonus for Hitman: Absolution. Anyone who pre-orders the game at GameStop walks out with Hitman: Sniper Challenge. We've had a chance to actually play said challenge, and though our expectations were low (since the last game to do anything like this was the laughably-bad Fable Pub Games), we ended up seeing the bar raised in terms of pre-order bonuses in general.

Instead of getting early access to a demo (of a game you've already decided to buy) or some in-game items (for a game you don't own yet), Hitman: Absolution's Sniper Challenge gives you something in between. It's a single, fifteen-minute-long Hitman experience that's not actually going to be a part of the final game. In this stand-alone level, Agent 47 starts perched on a rooftop across from a building where there's party is going on. A few seconds in, a helicopter lands on an adjacent helipad and his target steps out, leaving to join the crowd.

47 needs to take down the target and his 20 bodyguards in order to send a message. Each hit grants points depending on a bunch of different factors (running, hiding, unaware, etc), and modifiers are tacked on for completing different objectives, like taking out everyone with headshots or killing some random pigeons flying around. It's simple, but because of the number of different challenges and the near-infinite number of possible ways to handle the mission it has endless replay value.

Our first attempt had us taking out the target and scrambling to snipe a few bodyguards before they had all escaped, but after a few attempts we were memorizing guard patterns and dropping half a dozen guards before we even thought about looking at the target.

But that's just a small part - the real bonus comes in what those points actually do. Beyond bragging rights through leaderboards, the points unlock different traits and items that will carry over to Hitman: Absolution when it comes out later this year. In just a few runs, we earned an extended clip, a new sniper rifle, and increased breath-holding ability - all for playing a small, free game. When we looked at the complete list - consisting of over a dozen unlockables - we immediately decided to go in for more.

As a stand-alone product, Hitman: Sniper Challenge really wouldn't be worth all that much - but as a pre-order bonus with the ability to unlock items in the finished game, it's a definite success, and one that's set a new standard for the rewards of buying new. We were absolutely impressed with Sniper Challenge, and desperately hope others blatantly rip this concept off in the future.

Seriously, people, get plagiarizing - we promise we won't complain about more things like this.


  • wicko - May 11, 2012 6:21 a.m.

    Except it's exclusive to Gamestop, so that part was done wrong. Everything else seems pretty cool though.
  • patbateman17 - May 11, 2012 6:24 a.m.

    My only problem is having to pre-order from Gamestop, where they are going to sell me an opened game anyway and call it new. Screw you Gamestop, I want to tear the shrinkwrap off, how can you take that away from me??
  • rob619 - May 11, 2012 6:41 a.m.

    What ever they might say, this will be released a year or even a few months after the game is out. Not point in ordering, when sales die out they release content such as this to generate more. Ill give it a miss and enjoy the game.
  • jackthemenace - May 11, 2012 7:29 a.m.

    Availability outside of the US? I saw the reveal yesterday on GR, and I thought it looked like it had potential, so it's nice to see that the game does meet expectations- which is unusual in this modern games industry, really.
  • chad-munn - May 11, 2012 8:41 a.m.

    Hey- I like Fable 2's Pub Games- punk! They were fun for what they were- little distractions like cards or dice... and money that worked in the final game... and prized like armor or weapons or potions... What was wrong with that??? PS- this looks cool too. I may go put some money down just to get this- then see if I want the game later.
  • Blaastoid - May 11, 2012 9:44 a.m.

    Now I gotta pre-order Hitman! I love sniping missions in any games and this about takes the lead.

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