In what has been widely viewed as an unusual but very welcome strategy by IO and Square Enix, in the months leading up to the release year for the next major title in the vaunted Hitman series of stealth-action games, the studio took the unheard of approach of creating a mini-game that was sympathetic to the upcoming title, offering gamers a slice of just one narrow element of game play in the Hitman: Sniper Challenge.
Initially the mini-game was released with a very limited audience in mind – specifically only those gamers who had the presence of mind to pre-order a copy of the game from their retailer of preference who also happened to be set up to participate in this sort of promotional effort. So, for instance, if you regularly order your games from Joe's DVD Rental and Game Shop chances are you would not be receiving a code to access and download the Challenge no matter what platform you played on. On the other hand, if your source for gaming goodness is EB, GameStop, and the like, why then chances were excellent that you would in fact be receiving your code to activate and download this splendiferous mini-game!
For that reason it is still possible to obtain codes for this game from retailers who received them as bulk lists instead of as part of the online computer-based distribution, so if you are a true Hitman fan and you are willing to put out the effort, you may actually still be able to find a code or three if you call around and you are good at social engineering. I am just saying...
Obtaining an Access Code for Sniper Challenge
To point you in the right direction if that is your plan, you may find it helpful to know that the following video game retailers participated in the code distribution scheme last year, by region:
- Australia: EB Games / JB Hi-Fi.
- Austria: Almost every legitimate video game retailer that actually stocked the Hitman games.
- Czech Republic: Game.
- Belgium: Game Mania / Consoles-Fan / Fnac / Smartoys / Playerone / Mediamarkt / Saturn.
- Denmark: Blockbuster / CDON / Coolshop / Elgiganten / FONA / GameStop.
- France: Micromania.
- Finland: CDON / DiscShop / GameStop / Gigantti.
- Germany: Really hard to find, you are better off looking in the Netherlands or France.
- Greece: Cosmote / Dixons / Mediamarkt / Multirama-Public / Plaisio / Seven.
- Netherlands: Bart Smit / Free Record Shop / Game Mania / Mediamarkt / Saturn.
- Hungary: 576 (Comgame).
- Italy: Euronics / Fnac / GameStop / Gamepeople / Mediaworld / Opengames / Saturn.
- India: Games The Shop / Landmark / Planet M.
- Ireland: GameStop / Xtravision.
- New Zealand: EB Games / JB Hi-Fi / Mighty Ape.
- Norway: CDON / Elkjöp / Game / GameStop / GameZone / Komplett / Platekompaniet.
- Poland: Empik / Media Markt.
- Portugal: FNAC / Game / Mediamarkt / Wortens.
- Republic of Ireland: GameStop / Xtravision.
- Russia: 1C-Interes / Beliy Veter / Game Park / Game Republic / Hit-Zona / Vremya Igrat.
- Spain: Carrefour / El Corte Inglés / FNAC / Game / GameStop / MediaMarkt / Wortens.
- South Africa: Animeworx / BT Games / Incredible Connection.
- Sweden: CDOn / Discshop / Elgiganten / Game / GameStop / Webhallen.
- Switzerland: Really hard to find; you are better off looking at a nearby country.
- UK: Blockbuster / Game / GameStation / HMV / Zavvi.
- USA: GameStop
How the process is works is simple – after you pre-order Hitman: Absolution OR after you obtain one of the codes from an alternate source (you can try asking IO, you never know, they might give you one!) you take that code to www.hitmansniper.com and enter it, choose your platform, and then are given a code that will actually work ON that platform, using THAT platform's digital distribution network, which allows you to download and install the game on your selected platform, easy-peasey! In case you are wondering (and are about to ask) No, you cannot buy a copy of Sniper Challenge anywhere – it was intended to be a free game and so it was a free game.
Unlockable Aspects of Hitman: Sniper Challenge
The mini-game has a number of unlockables in it, but they are not the usual sorts you may have gotten used to seeing in games on your platform. For example, in the Xbox 360 there are no Achievements for you to unlock, and on PlayStation 3 there are no Trophies. On the other hand the game has a select list of in-game challenges (we cover those next) that you CAN unlock, so hey, go you!
The Challenges in “Sniper Challenge”
Creating mini-games to release in advance of a major title release is not unheard of – it has been done before – but never on this scale and with this broad a connection to the title for which it is intended to serve as a PR vehicle. What do we mean by that?
Simply that in addition to providing gamers who have been starved for any sort of new content in the series (bearing in mind that the delay between the announcement for Hitman: Absolution and its release was inordinately longer than the average two-year gap between the previous games in the series), IO in a partnership with Square built into the mini-game a series of competitive elements, and then added a very significant prize in order to ramp-up interest in the mini-game and, naturally, in the main title.
The in-game Challenges for Hitman: Sniper Challenge consist of:
** This challenge is not available in the mini-game until ALL of the other challenges are successfully unlocked by the player.
- Bored Chipmunk (Left out of the party)
- Crack all Eggs (Kill all targets with Headshots)
- Elevated (Free elevator ride)
- Fly By Prevented (Shoot the Flying Pigeons)
- Gnome Invasion (Gnome's are invading the apartment)
- It's a Trap! (They don't need more Alcohol)
- Leap of the Ninja (Put the Ninja out of his misery)
- Long Live the Patriot (That's a knockout)
- Mr. X (Who is that Mystery Man) **
- No Pigeons were Harmed (Darn Pigeons are in the way)
- Ohh Mine God! (Activate the Mines)
- Rapid Execution (Finish the Assignment in 2:10)
- Rub the Duck (They are Always There)
- Wow! (Remove the Stripper Evidence)
The official introduction to Sniper Challenge
playing through the Sniper Challenge Mini-Game allows players to unlock items in Hitman: Absolution as part of their reward for completing the challenges that are part of the Sniper Challenge, including but not limited to the Agency Kazo TRG Sniper Rifle, and subtle added abilities that apply specifically to the Sniper Rifle and its use in Absolution, including longer breath-holding capacity, a steadier aim period, and other elements that can be thought of as inherent abilities.
Competitive Statistical Tracking:
The mini-game includes a set of leaderboards that are broken down from the closest level – your friends and the people on your friend list – to the farthest level, which would be the National top-scores on an International scale!
A Robust Monthly Prize System:
A major part element in the competitive portion of the mini-game is represented by the Monthly Prizes that are awarded by platform, being divided between Xbox 360 / Xbox LIVE, PlayStation 3 / PSN, and Windows PC, with every player being eligible to win one (1) weekly and one (1) monthly prize throughout the period of the competition, as well as a chance to win the Grand Prize, which is to have themselves enshrined in a Hitman series title as a non-playable character!
The official contest ran from 1 August 2012 through 19 October 2012, which while that means the official contest is now concluded, in no way removes the value that the game has for gamers who have yet to begin playing Absolution, since there are several elements in the mini-game that can easily be considered desirable bonus features still.
If you are curious, the prizes for Hitman: Sniper Challenge were many and varied and included the following (and don't you wish you had won?):
July / August / September / October 2012
- An iPad2 (the 16GB WiFi version because IO is not cheap!)
- Sennheiser Headphones (model MM 450-X woot!)
- A 10-inch Agent 47 Figurine
- The “Agent 47” Outfit DLC
- An awesome Hitman T-Shirt
A Role in an Upcoming Title: One (1) Grand Prize winner will have his (or her – there are chick Assassins man) likeness inserted into a future ‘Hitman’ series game title. While that prize has no monetary value – which means you also do not have to worry about paying the outrageous “Gambling Winning Tax” that both the United States, Australia, and the United Kingdom levies on the poor bastards who win something of value from contests, game shows, and the like... If you are from somewhere other than the US, the UK, or Australia, it is not to late for you to emigrate to one of those places, because why would you want to live anywhere else? I am just saying...
Any way the lucky Sniper who won this Grand Prize not only receives a “Golden Joystick” at the 2012 Golden Joysticks Awards, which took place in London on 26 October 2012, but had the unique and inestimable pleasure of traveling to IO's motion-capture and coding enclave in Europe, where they had their likeness forever captured by the high-tech kit and so will be included in an upcoming Hitman game and how cool is that?!