NEW YORK - Square Enix continues its push into the mobile gaming market, having seen massive success porting time-treasured favorites from the Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest series to touch devices. However, the company has also been making inroads creating original mobile titles from established franchises, such as Hitman.
The company's latest title, Hitman Sniper, takes one aspect from the famed Hitman series and boils it down to its essence. The free mobile title (Android, iOS), set to release sometime in Fall 2014, places players back in Agent 47's blood-stained shoes. As the lethal contract killer, your job is to take out a target along with his or her's close associates, all while sniping from a nearby building.
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My demo of Hitman Sniper begins with a view of a palatial penthouse apartment. I use my finger to swipe around and get a better feel for the lay of the land through the scope of my sniper rifle. The intended target has a red beacon over his head, showing of his V.I,P. status while associates are highlighted in purple.
The place is crawling with guards walking along a predetermined path. I take a few minutes to memorize the paths of a couple of guards. After picking my first victim, I pinch-zoom to get a closer look through my scope.
I use my finger to guide the crosshairs over his head and with a confident tap, send a bullet through his cranium and scoring several thousand points in the process. After he collapses, I fire another shot into glass wall the body's slumped against, sending it careering over the send, thereby getting rid of the evidence and netting me another couple thousand points.
The touch controls are fast and accurate. Maneuvering the scope around was seamless, allowing me to set up shots with ease, and tapping to shoot was an intuitive experience. I did experience a little trouble on the swipe-to-reload mini-game. However, I'm going to chalk that up to beginner's nerves.
To add a competitive side to the killing, Square Enix Montreal has incorporated a points system. The points are pulling double duty, showing your skill on the community leaderboard while also helping you acquire in-game cash to purchase more powerful guns.
Although there are a variety of guns in the game, it pays to stick to a trusted piece. Guns level up during use in Hitman: Sniper, unlocking useful abilities that can augment your sniping style.
The gun I used during the demo had several different skills that could be triggered. One of the skills eliminated the pause between shots, allowing for a rapid fire scenario that bags the player a ton of points. Another skill enabled my bullet to bore through just about anything for a lethal kill shot.
As I finish up my demo, I can see that my target's on edge. I can see the sweat running down his tree trunk neck, damping the color of his white dress shirt. He's pacing around, barking orders at what's left of his security detail. He knows I'm close, as I left a bullet-shaped calling card in his laptop display. Finally, after what seems like an eternity, he makes a break for his white sports car. I line up the shot, hold my breath and swipe.
My bullet misses its mark and my target catapults himself into his car and speeds off -- I've failed my first Hitman: Sniper mission. Still, I managed to rack up a huge score, thanks to kill chains and a few other stylish dispatchments. It's not a total bust, but I'm looking forward to getting some payback when the game launches.