Hitman 2 Review
Released last week, Hitman 2 continues the legacy of the infamous Agent 47. Developed by IO Interactive and published by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, Hitman 2 is the sixth game in the franchise, not counting the games made for iOS and Android, and the second game in the latest reboot of the series. The Hitman franchise has been riddled with criticism at times for being too stagnant and repetitive while at others for losing sight of the original vision of the games. Many questions have been brought up about how this latest title will respond to issues from its predecessors. Let’s find out!
From the opening cinematic alone, it is clear to see that Hitman 2 boasts the most polished and crisp graphics of the series. One thing that may catch some people’s eye (it certainly caught mine) is that the characters’ mouths do not move while they are speaking in cutscenes, which I found very odd. It is unclear if this was a conscious decision from the get-go, as many games are plagued with out-of-sync lip movements in cinematics, or if it was a last minute change or oversight.
Not letting the supposed telepathic cutscene characters distract me too much, I am immediately brought into a very familiar mission setting from my previous experiences with Agent 47. While moving around, however, I notice one change very quickly. The animations feel incredible. I cannot stress enough how well integrated the movements and actions feel with the game. From opening doors to vaulting fences to dumping bodies, each movement feels fluid and calculated, as one would expect from a personality such as our beloved Hitman.
After your first mission is complete (don’t worry, no spoilers here!) you are brought to a training facility to test your basic skills as an operative. Seems slightly backwards to me, having a mission followed by a tutorial, but at the end of the day there is a tutorial, and a very easily-accessible controls display to remind you of your button mappings.
You are then brought to the main menu and reminded that if you own 2016’s Hitman, you will receive the Legacy Pack Upgrade for free. The Legacy Pack, while seemingly not available just yet, is meant to help fill in the story from the last title in the series. Hitman 2 also brings back many of the positive aspects of Hitman. Six large and open sandbox-type levels are available, each with many Mission Stories, Challenges and Mastery Levels to complete.
For those who are not familiar with the previous game, Mission Stories and Challenges are unique ways to complete the levels. Mission Stories offer a specific group of tasks that must be completed in order and will provide an advantage or easy kill set-up. These are guided parts to the level that can be of great help to less experienced players. Challenges are various tasks that, if completed, will provide additional experience for that level, experience that goes towards Mastery Level. These tasks vary from the simple, “kill x with y” to some very unique and wild challenges that I will not spoil here. Mastery Level gauges your experience with a particular environment and offers substantial rewards. Each mission story or challenge completed increases your Mastery Level, unlocking additional equipment, spawn points, starting outfits and more.
Sean Bean is Hitman 2’s first Elusive Target
Also returning from Hitman is the Elusive Target missions. These missions feature a high-profile target that you only have a single opportunity to take down, so planning is essential. If you die during the mission, or your target escapes, you lose your chance to kill them forever. It appears that, for the time being, the reward is given for simply attempting the mission. Successful completion is only for bragging rights. The very first Elusive Target for Hitman 2 debuted today! Featuring Sean Bean, this mission takes place in Miami (a level most players should be very familiar with) and I can say personally, having successfully completed it on my sole attempt, that it is quite exhilarating. Online contracts are also making a return. The feature which was first introduced in Hitman: Absolution allows players to create custom missions for others by setting targets and their method of assassination.
While I’m sure you have gathered by now that Hitman 2 follows closely in the footsteps of its predecessor, that is not to say there are not key differences between the two. The episodic nature of Hitman does not return in the sequel. These episodes were the focus of a fair amount of controversy, and IOI made the decision to do away with them in favour of delivering a complete product at one time.
Sniper Assassin allows you and a friend to team up to eliminate your targets from the perfect vantage point.
Hitman 2 also introduces Ghost Mode and Sniper Assassin, two brand-new game modes that offer new levels of co-op and competitive online play. In Ghost Mode, players will compete head-to-head in real time against another ‘ghost’ version of Agent 47, whose actions do not impact your own. You can, however, see them moving throughout your map. This is basically a time-trial on your assassination, with both players vying to be the first to eliminate (without being seen) the designed target. This goes for multiple rounds until a victor is crowned.
Sniper Assassin, which can be played Solo or Co-Op, is the polar opposite of Ghost Mode. You are positioned in a stationary view point above your targets and must wait for opportune moments to snipe them off, one at a time. You are given limited special ammunition which can be utilized in creative ways. It is a very casual and refreshing style for the Hitman series.
I cannot get enough of this game. While I always made it a habit to complete Hitman games to the end, I never really found replay value in them. Hitman 2 completely changes that for me. The gameplay itself is a dream come true. The graphics, animations, environments and interactions blend perfectly into the ideal Hitman game. This, combined with the variety of gameplay modes, challenges, mastery levels, mission stories and co-op/competitive online functionality makes for one game that will keep you coming back for more.
Hitman 2 is available on Xbox One, PS4 and PC. Visit https://www.hitman.com/ for all things Hitman 2!