Square Enix’s gamescom showcase featured Hitman: Absolution as a leading highlight, given its own press conference which begins with a re-run of the infamous shower trailer, backed by Lana Delray’s Videogames. It was a standard of attraction that was maintained throughout as the development team waffled-on about their ambitions before moving straight into what we’d all ventured into the wilds of Cologne for: the reveal of the Contracts gameplay mode.
A gameplay demonstration showcasing the Xbox 360 version offers a look at a previous seen section in which Agent 47 is moving through a library avoiding the torchlight of some police officers, this time however, the designers opt to take part in an alternative contract wherein they eliminate Sergeant Meyer, a dirty cop responsible for the death of the client’s father. In order to accomplish this the player must silently close in on the target, take them down and escape unseen. Players can choose to ignore this contract and simply move through the videogame as normal, but with the offer of an alternative mission the way in which Hitman: Absolution plays is radically changed. The contract is fulfilled upon reaching the exit, and after a payment screen the videogame will continue as normal.
Contracts can be created by players in-game using the Create Mode. Using another sequence already seen by the public, the demonstration runs through areas already seen in a normal fashion but gives players the opportunity to mark targets for a contract. The way in which you eliminate your mark then becomes part of the contract, i.e. kill silently with a knife and that will become an additional bonus objective. The exit works in a similar way, though it is a fundamental requirement of completing the contract rather than an optional one. Each contract can feature a maximum of three targets, all of which are selected by the player creating the new mission.
Created contracts go live on the Hitman: Absolution servers and are available to all players. Further to this, a leaderboard is available for every contract and players can create competitions between friends. Square Enix has also promised that this system will be used to create weekly competitions to allow the Hitman: Absolution community to interact with objectives that last beyond the campaign.
Of course, contracts can be completed in any way you choose, but doing so with the prescribed weapons in a shorter time frame than the original issuer will offer the most rewards. It’s easy to argue that this is the kind of open ended gameplay that Hitman was designed for – indeed, the fans uploading their videos of earlier titles would attest to that statement – and as an added bonus will more than likely boost the longevity of the title beyond the limits of its traditionally structured campaign.