by Sean Martin
reviewed on PC
KILLING IN THE NAME OF
So for the sake of transparency, I’m going to begin this review by stating that I am a long-time lover of Hitman. I wasn’t so much of a big fan of Absolution, which I feel was a bit of a failed attempt at implementing more of a story into a Hitman game. I am however a huge fan of the reboot which began with the episodic release of Hitman in 2016. Hitman 2 instead launches as a full game, which while not as interesting in the narrative sense, might please fans who don’t wish to pay piecemeal for each level of the game. Once again, we step into the shoes of the somewhat ageless, bar-coded assassin, Agent 47, as he travels across the world, killing a variety of unreachable criminals and big shots, in ever more elaborate and absurd ways.
ROUTES OF APPROACH
Similar to the previous game, Hitman 2 focuses on allowing players very specific routes of approach, giving each level layers of re-playability. This manifests itself as a choice — you can either play things your own way, improvising as you go, or choose very specific routes to assassinate a target. You have a variety of weapons and equipment, which will increase as you complete more challenges. Your location mastery will also increase, allowing you new starting points with disguises, as well as new places to have equipment left for you.
This is all very similar to the first game. But Hitman 2 basically takes the concept of multi-layered levels and cranks it up to 11 — some of the maps are absolutely astonishing in terms of size and number of NPCs. Mumbai especially, blew me away, a sprawling rendition of the city, both vertical as you move between skyscrapers and the sewers beneath the streets, and horizontal, as you traverse between busy markets and out-skirted railyards. This was especially powerful, after what I considered to be a very poor rendering of Marrakech in the first game. Also in a rather joyous turn of events, NPCs finally have appropriate accents and they aren’t all just British and American.
A WORLD OF ASSASSINATION
I personally consider Hitman: Contracts to be the most successful Hitman game in a narrative sense — in-between each level we get flashes as a narrative gradually establishes itself and during the levels we receive clues about the state of the world and the overall context. While I don’t think there will ever be another with as strong a narrative, Hitman 2 does a decent job continuing where the first left off even though the story does seem to drop off a bit at the end. It also scatters clues throughout the world, in news reports, conversations and in missions briefings from Diana, referencing the first game, teasing the next targets and establishing the world’s context.
Hitman 2 also continues the successful ‘elusive targets’ community events, where players have a limited time — both in game and in the real world — and a single attempt to kill a target. The first of these was the brilliant Mark Faber, a death-faking ex-MI5 agent who was lent his voice and likeness by Sean Bean. He was used in the marketing to great effect, being hash-tagged 'the undying', playing on that meme that Sean Bean has died in almost every film he’s been in. Hitman 2 also introduces Ghost Mode, an online competitive mode of 1v1, where players must hurry to eliminate a series of targets, racing and gaining points by killing them unnoticed before the other player. The targets are also randomly selected each time, adding a fairness to proceedings.
Hitman 2 builds upon what made the first installment of this revamp so successful — a sleek and beautiful interface, as well as an intense focus on re-playability, whether through contracts, elusive targets, or varying assassination methods. Though nothing to write home about, the story being based more in Agent 47’s origin does a good job of keeping you hooked, and is more interesting than the first installment’s by far. But to be honest, Hitman is an eternal, few game franchises have ever used the same set of mechanics as successfully, and the focus on improving them has led them to this revamp, which makes assassination newer and fresher than ever. If you like Hitman, you will love this.
Builds upon the first game, detailed levels, re-playability, new multiplayer and sniping modes
Not the most incredible story, bit a lame-duck ending.