Like Hitman GO before it, Hitman: Sniper performs that tremendous feat of taking aspects which are synonymous with the core franchise and then integrating them masterfully into a title that plays to the strength of mobile platforms. Even better yet, the fruits of Square Enix Montreal‘s labour are such that you won’t ever have to trawl the gutter of the App Store or Google Play in search of a decent mobile sniper game ever again.
Played from the distant vantage point of a high-rise perch overlooking a flamboyantly opulant building in Montenegro, Hitman: Sniper swaps the intimate turn-based strategy beats of Hitman: GO for the visceral, twitch-based thrills of Agent 47 peering down the scope of a high-powered sniper rifle as his handler Diana picks and chooses targets for him to eliminate. Where developer Square-Enix Montreal have prevented Hitman: Sniper from just ending up as one of many the sniper themed titles that are available on mobile platforms though, is in how the game cleverly adheres to the design DNA of its infamous parent.
Rather than just a straight forward turkey-shoot, Hitman: Sniper encourages players to be smart with how they dispatch their foes. Despite your removal from the action up close, stealth and non-detection are still the orders of the day here (much as it is in Sniper‘s parent titles) and so while the player is able to excerise many of the freedoms that we’re used to Agent 47 enjoying in previous games, here, it’s all executed from the business end of a high-caliber sniper rifle.
While enemy and civilian alike can detect bodies, hear noises and then start raising alarms, these mechanics can actually be leveraged to complete objectives too. Need to take out an arms dealer but he’s too close to his group? Simple. You just fire a hollowpoint into the nearest car, let the alarm sound for all to hear and then as this lures him, pop a second round into the base of his noggin for a stylish kill. Continuing this trend of murderous freedom, Sniper also deftly adopts the core series penchant for staged kills by enabling the player to pull off some truly neat executions. Need to knock off a guy in such a way that he tumbles face first into the nearest jacuzzi? You can! And not only that, but it also has a purpose beyond the theatrical as well, since concealing bodies in the fashion keeps everyone else in the mission blissfully unawares of the death that you’re dealing in other areas of it.
Hitman: Sniper‘s many sorties are generously stuffed with opportunities to engineer this sort of subterfuge and building upon this fact, the game cleverly wraps mission objectives around them that helps to keep proceedings both varied and entertaining. This in turn, feeds into a set of online leaderboards that allows you to compare your long-range, assassination prowess against snipers from all over the world. Such comparisons occur at a granular level too, as at the conclusion of each contract an itemised performance list is provided showing everything from alerts raised and kills made through to the amount of times lures were used and the number of times breaths were held to steady your aim. In short, there is a substantial amount of latitude for fine-tuning your marksmanship and as well as the usual high-score bragging rights that online leaderboards enable, Hitman: Sniper also includes progressional elements as well.
You see, every sniper rifle that Agent 47 uses can be upgraded, which not only improves a number of base characteristics such as accuracy and stability but also introduces a range of cool-down based abilities such as increased damage or the ability to hold your breath longer to allow for a more accurate killshot. Elsewhere, taking out specific targets can result in the chance of special components being obtained which when accrued in a great enough amount, allows you to unlock new rifles to take with you on your contracts. By attaching a somewhat grindy (though not overly so) mechanic to these dropped items, Hitman: Sniper‘s longevity, which is already substantial on the account of online leaderboards, finds itself meaningfully extended even further.
Just like Hitman GO, Sniper is absolutely polished to the gills. With the fixed perspective allowing the artists to concern themselves with a narrower set of assets, Hitman: Sniper does a great job of channeling the sheen of the most recent release, Hitman: Absolution, onto mobile screens with lavishly detailed environments and smoothly animated character models. A cost to these impressive visuals though, is that a pretty beefy tablet or phone is required to play the game, so ensure that you double check your specs first before getting stuck in.
If there is any real compliant about Hitman: Sniper it’s that a little more variety in locale and potential targets wouldn’t have gone a miss. Certainly, the very notion of blasting folks at range over and over regardless of the amount of novel twists that the developer has introduced to the formula will still become repetitive for some, but really, if you’re interested in a game that has ‘Sniper’ as a subtitle, you should pretty much know what you’re letting yourself in for and Hitman: Sniper does it best work when enjoyed in short bursts anyway.
With the release of Hitman: Sniper, Square Enix Montreal have arguably crafted the finest sniper experience on mobile platforms. Polished, accessible and with the sort of hidden depths that belie its singular remit, Hitman: Sniper reminds us that the Canadian developer is unerringly on target with their grasp of the series, as they have again fashioned a superlative effort that effortlessly distills the essence of the franchise onto mobile platforms, creating an irresistiably compelling and entertaining title in the process.
A copy of the game was kindly supplied by the developer Square-Enix for the purposes of this review.
The Android version of Hitman: Sniper was tested on a Samsung Galaxy Note 4.
Hitman: Sniper is available on Android devices here.
Hitman: Sniper is also available on iOS devices here