'Hitman Absolution' offers a closer look at user-created 'Contracts' mode

Hitman is bringing in player-created contract kills with its latest mode.

Hitman Absolution's "choose your own way" adage shows up through its Gamescom demo as a franchise philosophy-turned-marketing phrase, but it underlines an attempt to rid of earlier fears. Despite controversial trailers in which 47 turns up on the scene guns blazing, doing everything but the stealth cleverisms and creative assassinations that defined his franchise, the new Contracts demo shows no sign of the uncreative tendencies that made fans wary.

In fact, Contracts is an exercise in creative action, where stealth, among other tactics, is part of an overall arsenal of assassination methods that must be mastered in order to succeed. We covered the announcement of this new mode earlier in the week.

Contracts will allow users to make player-created contracts, adding a new level of replayability to the game. Creating one involves marking a target, killing the target, then exiting the level, with the particulars of how and what you killed being uploaded automatically in the form of a contract for other players to attempt.

If it bleeds, we can kill it.

As demoed today at Gamescom, Contracts took place on the previously seen King of Chinatown map, in a market town cluttered with civilians and a few armed guards. Two contracts were on offer, the first an easy difficulty contract which requires the player to kill two targets using any weapon or disguise; the second, now on hard difficulty, asks for three assassinations, and for users to only kill targets, to not miss any shots, to hide all bodies, and to kill targets in order with any weapons and disguises.

Bonus conditions for contracts can be triggered in the creation of a contract, with a long list that includes the likes of: only kill targets, do not miss any shots, do not be spotted, no disguise changes, hide all bodies, and kill targets in order. The inclusion of bonus conditions turns up the difficulty setting, as well as the pay out for the completion of the contract. Easy in this case might hand you a base pay-off of $70,000 to be used on better weapons and upgrades, but Hard offers nearly double.

Unlocked weapons, techniques, and disguises are contained in the user's Safehouse which will show what the user has accrued over his time playing this mode. While initially the user will start out with a Silver Baller gun and 47's suit, later on players can unlock and equip an agency Kazo TRG, or upgrades like a silencer, extended clip 1, extra clip, magnum ammunition, heavy slide, red dot sight, dual wielding, weighted barrel, speed chute, or skeletonized hammer. In addition disguises shown include a Chicago police officer uniform, SWAT police officer uniform, dealer, market vendor, alongside the starter kit of 47's suit.

Contracts will reward users on the length of time it takes them to re-create the kills of the previous player, on top of this. Whether this means most users will feel the urge to take the most direct route to their targeted kills is still to be seen; however the amount of unlockable items available will allow for a level of creativity and improvisation to take place.

Hitman: Absolution releases November 20th on PC, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3.

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