Announced during Gamescom in a rather luxurious cinema in the heart of Cologne, Hitman: Absolution‘s Contracts mode adds a completely new layer to the game – competition. After having a little bit of a hands on time with Contracts – and a lovely bit of help from Contracts game designer Torben Ellert – I can safely say that any Hitman fan will fall in love with it, and if you’ve never played Hitman before then you’ll be loving everything that Contracts mode brings in.
Seeing as the last Hitman that graced my hands was Hitman 2 on the Gamecube, Hitman: Absolution naturally feels like a world apart from anything else the series has offered, to me. However, as the standard Absolution game sees you moving through levels and hitting objectives in pursuit of the story, Contracts takes that completely out of the picture and instead asks you to do what an assassin does best: assassinate people.
Although in the final build you’ll be able to create your own contracts to send out to others, for the hands on session I couldn’t do this, but IO Interactive had created two contracts for me to carry out. One was deemed as the ‘easy’ contract and the other the ‘hard’ contract – needless to say I failed the hard and caused a bit of a bloodbath in the process. I did however flawlessly execute the easy contract, because I’m just that kinda guy.
The first contract sees you having to take down two targets and then move towards the exit. I could have decided to go in guns blazing, taking down both my targets in plain sight before tackling the waves of cops that would have been called in for backup – but that’s just not what a professional assassin would do; so as I assumed the role of the bald Agent 47 I thought as he thought, and went for the silent and deadly approach. Moving in on my first target, which was an unsuspecting cop, I slunk up behind him while he went about his secluded patrol route and shot him silently in the back; however I could have choked him and snapped his neck, or just killed him on the spot with a well placed headshot. My second target lay in the thick of a busy Chinatown market, and so I hid within the crowds to stalk him as he made his foolish journey down to the dark underbelly of the city to check on his drug exchange. It was there I pounced and dispatched my target with ease before strutting off unsuspectingly towards the level exit where two policemen stood on patrol. Luckily for me, as I didn’t cause a ruckus they’re none the wiser and I pass by them and claim my reward.
I’d love to say my second contract went as smoothly, but quite honestly it didn’t. I dispatched the fist target – the same police officer as before – yet this time the hit required me to hide all the bodies, something I managed with only a little bit of trouble. After changing into the police officers uniform, I then had to lure my second target out of a crowd and to a secluded location. This time though my second target was another police officer. Using my disguise I made him suspicious before leading him away and pretending to surrender before going in for a swift kill. However, I hadn’t been as tactful as I thought as he’d called for backup before coming to arrest me, meaning I was left with a dead body, policemen’s clothes, and an unbelievable amount of cops all bearing down on me. My next move was a foolish one, I tried to shoot my way out – which is entirely possible if you don’t decide to take cover behind a parked car, a car that’s parked infront of explosive barrels.
Each contract you undertake has different requirements that you can choose to meet, however if you wish to best your friend’s or creators score, then you’ll need to hit all those tasks. You also gain more points and money if you wrap up the contract quickly, as a ticking timer counts down the longer you take, meaning your prize money diminishes rather quickly. You can also change the loadout you go into a contract with, along with the outfit you’re wearing, meaning that you can swiftly deal with some situations – or if you fancy, take everyone out with a sniper rifle.
What initially may have seen like a small addition to Absolution is easily the biggest deal that the franchise has ever seen. Not only does it extend the longevity of Hitman: Absolution beyond anything anyone could have expected, it’s also potentially the purest way you could play the game. Torben Ellert assured me that IO would be supporting the game with weekly contracts so you don’t have to rely on other people if it turns out nobody can create enjoyable contracts. There’s also a little bit of uncertainty about how the team will regulate levels in contracts – meaning you’re locked to levels you’ve completed in single player; however – and Ellert said nothing of the sort – IO could potentially release future DLC that could mean more contract specific levels could open up.
As you can tell, I was totally enamoured by the brilliance of Contracts and it’s near limitless offering and potential. Paired with the Hitman: Sniper Challenge offering that IO Interactive offered up to pre-orders, it definitely seems that the studio are on top of everything Hitman related, and probably have a few more surprises hidden up their sleeves for us. for now though I can’t wait for Hitman: Absolution to arrive.