The long-running Hitman franchise, published by Square Enix and Eidos Interactive, has always maintained a core formula of not only taking out assigned targets, but taking them out in creative ways. Sure, you could just rush in brandishing your signature Silver Baller pistols and down every enemy that gets in your way, but to earn the coveted title of “Silent Assassin”, discretion must be carefully balanced with opportunity; tasking the player with figuring out innovative ways through which they can eliminate their target and escape undetected. This formula transfers over well into the latest entry in the series, Hitman: Absolution, and its unique take on multiplayer: Contracts Mode.
In Absolution’s Contracts Mode, players can plan out, design, and share their own custom contracts.In Absolution’s Contracts Mode, players can plan out, design, and share their own custom “contracts” with other players worldwide and can also play through contracts created by others. These contracts are set up within the framework of the game’s single-player levels but they are not bound by the same restrictions.
When creating a contract, players are free to pick up to three different targets in a given level, eliminate them as they see fit, and then escape through one of the level’s many pre-designated exits. Other players who choose to play through the same contract must emulate the creator’s actions; eliminating the targets using the same method and/or disguise as the creator did. Certain optional bonus conditions the creator met while making the contract (hiding all the bodies, not getting caught, never switching disguises, etc.) can be met by other players for a bonus to their score, but they aren’t required to complete the contract.
Cash earned from completed contracts can be used to purchase new guns and disguises (both of which can also be unlocked in the single-player campaign) which, in turn, can expand the number of creative options available when designing contracts. The guns are a mostly optional tool however, as the real fun comes from finding different environmental hazards through which to “accidently” send your target to their doom.
The more creatively-inclined among us will no doubt relish the opportunity to insert their own bit of backstoryAnother entirely optional element of creating contracts is the ability to give a customized title and description to the contract once the creator is finished making it. While this may not seem like such a big deal to many players, the more creatively-inclined among us will no doubt relish the opportunity to insert their own bit of backstory into why exactly their tasking other players with eliminating these targets.
One example of my own creation involved having the player dress up as a chef, sneak into a large house from one of the game’s early levels, and eliminate another chef as retribution for having murdered the player-chef’s teacher (I was naturally inspired by old kung fu and Samurai movies). Even though the whole “chef’s revenge” subplot was nothing more than text on a screen, it helped lend satisfaction to what was an otherwise easy contract to create (the chef in question is very close to the level’s beginning and isn’t too heavily guarded) and I knew the title I gave to the contract; “Top Chef”, would no-doubt attract other would-be players.
My example is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the sort of creativity that can be injected into potential contracts. Other examples include a contract I played in which the creator tasked me with killing a target named “Bill” with a katana (they even wrote out their own reworking of the “Kill Bill” storyline and cleverly titled the contract as “The Bride’s Blade”), another, titled “There Aint No Heaven” had me eliminating a group of female mercenaries dressed as nuns while I sported a priest disguise.
It’s no surprise that such contracts have quickly risen into the “Featured Contracts” category of the game’s Contract’s Mode screen, a place where only the most-played and highly-rated contracts find themselves. Going in, picking a bunch of guys at random, and shooting them with any old gun is one thing, taking the time to carefully pick out your targets, eliminate them in clever ways, and then adding your own bit of backstory to help give creative context to your work, that in my opinion is what separates the amateur killers from the silent assassins.
If you have a penchant for creative writing, a flair for the dramatic (or the comedic), and you don’t mind getting your hands dirty, I’d highly recommend Hitman: Absolution’s Contracts Mode. It can keep you engrossed long after you finish the single-player campaign and promises hours of entertainment for those who like a little creativity with their assasinations.