Hitman 2 Review
He stalks his prey silently as he moves effortlessly through the crowd using the world around him as his playground. Agent 47 is back in Hitman 2 but this time rather than it being like Hitman in 2016, IO Interactive have decided to launch the game in full and not episodic. It’s not like previous Hitman titles like Silent Assassin or Absolution as it still has the same structure of an episodic title.
When you start up Hitman 2, you will noticed the usual Featured screen that shows everything from the Story mode and new Ghost Mode to the Contracts and the current Elusive Target. In Hitman 2 you can when you start the Campaign, it lets you choose how you want to start. For those of you who have the Legacy Pack installed you can start the story from the very beginning, meaning starting right from the Epilogue in the first Hitman (2016) game. The added bonus with the Legacy Pack, is that you get the previous missions and locations, but have been remastered and enhanced, which adds more content for you to play about in.
What you will notice upon entering the Campaign screens is that all the missions/levels and cutscenes are all laid out in front of you, but of course it’s best to play them in order to get the full experience and story of the game. Since the Hitman games are all about freedom and attempting those challenges that are in each level, there is so much to uncover and do in this latest game thanks to what IO Interactive has added.
Starting your first mission, whether you want to start from the beginning of Hitman’s story (2016) or continuing it from the start of Hitman 2, you get the usual commentary voiceover from your ICA handler Diana Burnwood. She overviews the missions and gives you valuable intel on what needs to be done in order to complete your current mission. While during a mission, she will also point out key information about your targets and even drop in a hint or two if you listen to her carefully. As you progress through the game, you get to learn more about her past and more about her involvement within the ICA, as well as finding out more about Agent 47 and his past. While their two stories are adding more context to the overall lore of the franchise, I found it will do little to hold your attention regarding playing the game and how you want to play it.
Hitman 2s locations you visit during the Campaign, do offer up some breath-taking views and backdrops and the level of quality in terms of their structure is far better than the previous title. Places like Mumbai with it’s bustling streets and market stalls to the unfinished tower that overlooks the city, where one of your targets is based trying to pass themselves off as a movie director. There are so many alleyways and off side streets to find more disguises and weapons of choice to complete your mission. Then there is sunny Miami where you get to visit a race track which the Global Innovation Race is taking place and is the backdrop to the mission that you need to complete. There is also an expo happening where one of your targets Robert Knox is showing a demonstration of some of his new military grade toys for a special guest!
Each location offers up plenty of places and buildings to explore and new starting locations to find as well as those all-important vantage points to overlook and map out your plan of attack. It’s best to take your time and uncover what each location has to offer you. Once you have your plan set in motion, it’s time to seek out your target(s) and find the best way to eliminate them, whether it’s by sheer brute force or by killing them stealthily by many of the hazardous equipment and everyday items around them. The ingenious ways that IO Interactive have put into each level is remarkable and it has been this way in previous titles as well. In Hitman 2 you get almost the entire world to use as your weapon and nothing is left unchecked. Almost most objects in some form or another can be used to help you remove your targets. From shooting signs to kill a target to placing some lethal poison into their eye drops. There are so many options that you will want to go back again and again to try out all the gruesome and funny ways to eliminate each target you come across.
To aid you in getting closer to your target, there are even more disguises to choose from and some of them are flamboyant and colourful as ever, from having a pink flamingo mascot outfit to a reality star tattooist. Each one will have their advantages and help you into certain areas that are otherwise inaccessible in your current guise.
The gameplay itself, is very much like that of the first, in that the areas all seem to have the same “feel” to them, but this is more about consistency than anything else. The formula is the same as the previous Hitman with some subtle changes to improve the games mechanics. For example, Agent 47 can blend into the background as before, but this time he can now blend into crowds and even find cover in bushes, overgrown grass and other vegetation. You also get a faded white circle that appears to show that you are hidden, much in the same vain as other stealth titles as Assassin’s Creed. Throughout the game you will hear Diana dropping information to you as you progress through your current mission and you will be treated with a pop-up screen that shows important clips of intel that can aid you in completing your mission. This little screen also shows you when a body is discovered or if a security camera picks you up in their feed, which of course you will want to find and remove all traces of your existence.
To aid Agent 47 in the game to complete these missions are some new equipment like the concussion grenades. which come in handy when you want to knock someone out without directly contacting them. Then there are the usual suspects, like Agent 47s ICA19 silenced pistol, the signature fibre wire that is always on hand for those close quarter kills and the Jaeger 7 MKII sniper rifle for those long-range shots for keeping out of arms reach. To add to the standard weapons, you can also pick up weapons that are scattered about each of the locations you visit or use something else more inventive. For example, in the Chasing the Ghost mission, you can use a measuring tape, a razor blade or even a train. This brings home what IO Interactive mean by the world is your best weapon.
Hitman 2 fun factor for me comes from exploring each destination at your own pace, discovering new ways to eliminate your targets and being as creative as possible! Whether you are on the trail of the current Elusive Target or taking on a new Contract, there are so many ways to be inventive and it shows from each of the locations having their own unique design. You also can choose to have the game tailored to your playstyle from how difficult you want to turn the guidance on or off, you could take the very forgiving Casual difficulty or be a pro and take on the Master Assassin difficulty and even turn off the HUD to further challenge your inner 47! There are various extra challenges that can be pursued on each mission too that adds to the creative ways to kill your target.
When you complete the Campaign or want to try something different, Hitman 2 offers up some new game modes for you to sink your teeth into, Ghost Mode and Sniper Assassin. While Sniper Assassin has been apart of Hitman before, it was more of a pre-order incentive than an actual full on game mode. This time we get a proper game mode which lets you play on your own or co-operatively. Sniper Assassin takes you to a cliffside view point which overlooks a large mansion, which is hosting a wedding party. Here Agent 47 must take out three targets and their bodyguards in 15 minutes to complete his mission. While the premise is straight-forward and not too difficult, it’s how you decide to remove each target that makes this mode such fun. Not only do you have to contend with removing your targets, but you need to make sure it’s done quietly and hidden as there are guests everywhere on the mansion grounds.
This mode is about patience and how well you can plan your kills. Do you rush and kill all three targets and pick off their bodyguards afterwards as they run about figuring out what has just happened, or do you go for a more creative route? There are so many ways to eliminate the targets and change how they react to what is happening around them. My favourite way to eliminate my targets is to have them gather under a large chandelier and when the moment is right, shoot the cable wiring and drop the chandelier on all three targets simultaneously to make it look like an accident. While waiting for the three of them to get into position, you are free to look about the mansion grounds to see if there is anything else that may need “cleaning”. In Sniper Assassin, there are a few challenges that can be completed which opens some upgrades for you, like a better scope for your sniper rifle and more ammo to an increased fire rate and a higher multiply XP bonus.
Sniper Assassin also lets you join a friend/fellow assassin to take on this contract. When playing co-operatively, you get to choose from two new assassins, Knight and Stone. Each assassin has their own unique ammo type. Stone uses the concussive Shockwave rounds while Knight sports Wall-Piercing ammo for when a target or bodyguard is evading or constantly moving between walls and closed off rooms. Communication is key when playing together as you can perform soon cool simultaneous kills which, allows you to take out multiple enemies without the alarm being raised and looks badass too. The downside to this is, that you if one of you gets some sloppy kills, it can result in a poor score or the mission being a failure.
While this mode is still in a BETA, it has a lot of potential and I hope that IO Interactive improve on it further with more locations and targets for us to kill and hopefully even in more inventive ways.
Ghost Mode is the competitive side of Hitman 2 and sees you and another player try to take out the same target. This mode shows the two of you on the same map/location as you both move about the map. Scattered about the map are Ghost crates and these hold useable items or disguises for you to use. The catch with these crates is, that if you get to it first your opponent can’t retrieve the same item as you. Also, these items are the only way that you can impact on your opponents’ mission and try to make things more difficult for them. An example would be that if you were to throw a coin it would grab a NPCs attention in both your opponents’ game and your own. While it’s nothing major, it can disrupt your opponent and give you a slight advantage when you want to reach the target first.
I feel that Ghost mode should only be played when you have tackled the Campaign first. The reason for this is that you would have had familiarised yourself with each of the locations and there’s the bonus of knowing your surroundings that can help you be successful.
Hitman 2 is has seen a lot of improvements from its predecessor and you can tell by how the game plays and the overall aesthetic look and feel of the game. I played Hitman 2 on the Xbox One X and some of the levels are beautifully imagined by IO Interactive. From the quiet and lonely feeling of Hawkes Bay as you walk along the beach to your first mission, to the hustle and bustle of Mumbai with its winding streets, market stalls and slums. Each location has its own unique charm to it and offers up so much richness and detail to the game that it’s one of the best-looking game in the series to date.
From how well the game looks and plays as you move about each location, I do find it odd that the cutscenes in the game are not as fleshed out. Each one tells the story in a manner you are accustomed to, but they are just mere static images and no animated scenes at all. It’s as though they were added afterwards as an afterthought and only there just to throw together the missions like poorly used sticky tape. They never felt like they were really part of the overall narrative of the game and would easily be forgotten when compared to the game itself. It is a bit of a shame that this is the feeling I got from Hitman 2, as it’s probably the only negative spin I would take away from it as everything else in the game works so well together.
Hitman 2 has improved on what I loved about Hitman(2016), from dropping the episodic format and getting a full released to the improvements of the locations and ingenious ways we can eliminate each target. While Ghost mode and Sniper Assassin are welcomed additions, I do hope they will be improved upon as each mode as huge potential to keep gamers playing until the next title in the series drops our way.
Agent 47 takes care of business in the best way he knows how and in Hitman 2, we get to once again don the famous suit. While there is nothing ground-breaking achieved in the latest instalment, die-hard fans of the franchise will have more than enough to keep them busy. The new added game modes will inject some longevity to the game, thought the question is, can IO Interactive improve on the Sniper Assassin and Ghost modes to keep the casual gamers interested? Only time will tell.
GoG Rating: 8.5/10