The evolution of the modern shooter that also qualifies as a AAA game title today has come to include a robust and interactive online mode with a focus upon Player-vs.- Player content, a development that can be easily illustrated with modern war-based shooters like the Medal of Honor and Call of Duty games, which have seen their online multi-player modes quite literally take over the games as their most popular features to the point that the traditional single-player story modes (campaign modes) in those games have largely been supplanted by the online modes!
When the developers for the Hitman Series contemplated that evolutionary process occurring in their game it was not, it should be recognized, with even a little enthusiasm that the notion was viewed. To put a find point upon it, the Hitman games have always been about the stories, and to do anything in the games for that series that would in any way detract from those stories would be both a disservice to the players and a betrayal to the games. Any serious fan of the series would agree with that.
On the other hand, not adding some type of online mode to the game was not really an option – the players deserved something, but it had to be a mode that would not hijack the game. Hitman Contracts Mode was the answer that they eventually arrived at; an online mode that allows the players to compete with each other, but in a manner that does not bring them directly in opposition, on the same screen as it were.
The focus of Contracts is the creation of player-created levels that offer the challenge of fulfilling all of the requirements that the creating player built into the level – by playing through it to create it! This approach is a bit monkey-see, monkey-do in the sense that when one player takes up the challenge of a Contract level that was created by another, their ultimate goal is to complete the level with exactly the same precision and steps with which it was made, in order to obtain a perfect score and so rake in the maximum amount of Contract Dollars that the level can pay.
Playing a random Contract created by a stranger
In many respects this was a brilliant move on the part of IO – though granted it was not the full-blown multi-player online play that many in the Hitman community were hoping for – the fact that this online challenge mode called Contracts is fully integrated into the single-player campaign is nothing short of brilliant!
To obtain all of the weapons, disguises, and techniques that the player will require in order to complete the lion's share of the Contracts that are available, they must work their way through the single-player side of the game, collecting all of the guns and disguises, as well as play upgrades, in order to be fully competitive and to have access to all of the prerequisite items that may be required for a Contract. In that respect, as we say, this approach is nothing short of brilliant.
That the player can also use their Contract Dollars to purchase a weapon, or an upgrade that they may require in order to play through a specific Contract expands the playability of the online mode, in that it does not force the player to complete the campaign before they can begin to explore Contracts.
Contracts Mode in Hitman: Absolution begins with a tutorial that walks the player through the different aspects of play and a tutorial that shows the player how to create their own Contracts. The essential point to Contracts is to play and complete as many challenges created by other gamers as you can, earning yourself as much in the way of Contract Dollars as you can, so that you can upgrade weapons and unlock additional weapons that are not part of the collection you unlock in the single-player campaign mode.
Considering that the average cost of a weapon is around $1m Contract Dollars or more, your work is cut out for you!