Game

Review: Hitman 2 Lets Anyone Become a Super Assassin Without Making It Easy

Screenshot: Hitman 2

Hitman 2 is a stealth video game developed by IO Interactive. A sequel to 2016’s Hitman, Hitman 2 follows Agent 47 as he assassinates targets, including one referred to as the “Shadow Client” given to him by a group called Providence, which has influence across the world. 47 gradually learns more about both the Shadow Client and Providence, and uncovers a worldwide conspiracy. The story in Hitman 2 isn’t groundbreaking by any means, but Hitman has never really struck me as a series you play for the deep, thrilling story; it’s a game you play to role-play as a super assassin and kill people.

Screenshot: Hitman 2

The Hitman series is known for the freedom that it gives players in how they approach a target. Poison their drink? Why not. Pick them off  from afar with a sniper rifle you snuck past security in a briefcase? Go for it! Put a remote explosive in their office and blow it up when they go in–you can even go in guns blazing if you wanted to be predictable (though in my opinion, stealth has always been the most fun and effective way to play any of the games in the series). The series seemed to have lost its way for a while with Hitman: Absolution, which had smaller and more linear levels, and more action-oriented gameplay, but with the release of 2016’s Hitman, the series returned to its roots, and Hitman 2 is more of the same, which is a very good thing.

Screenshot: Hitman 2

Gameplay in Hitman 2 is typical of the Hitman series – you knock people out, steal their clothes in order to blend in with the crowd, and when you get close enough to your target, you strike. In Hitman 2, the gameplay mechanics have been polished to perfection. You are given one or more targets in a level to assassinate, but that’s it when it comes to guidance. How you get there is up to you. Levels are massively sprawling, and the amount of ways you can complete them are astonishing. Each level also features a set of challenges to complete for extra experience. Challenges include killing targets in a specific way, completing certain actions, or completing Mission Stories–miniature storylines you can follow which usually end with you being able to assassinate a target in a unique, possibly “accidental” way. There is an option for you to activate a guide if you’re having a hard time finding where to start these Mission Stories, but I didn’t use this and was able to find and complete three different Mission Stories on my first playthrough of the Miami level with no assistance.

Screenshot: Hitman 2

One of the hallmarks of the Hitman series is the variety when it comes to settings for missions, and Hitman 2 is no different. Levels are set in areas which span the globe, including Miami, New Zealand, Columbia, and India, and they all look beautiful. Colors are bright, levels are vast, and on more than one occasion I found myself just looking at the sights the levels had to offer. NPC conversations feel organic, and NPCs react differently to 47 depending on his outfit, ranging from complements to snarky comments, which adds personality to what would otherwise be faceless characters.

Screenshot: Hitman 2

As you gain levels for an area, you gain additional areas to enter the level, additional spots for the agency to smuggle in more illegal options for completing the mission, and even additional gadgets, some of which allow you to complete challenges that you wouldn’t have been able to complete your first time through a level. New additions to Agent 47’s arsenal include concussive gadgets like stun grenades which allow you to non-lethally take down targets, as well as the return of the briefcase, which allows 47 to sneak large weapons which he can’t hide on his person, like the sniper rifle, past guards without alerting them. These additions are welcome, and add even more ways for players to tackle a mission.

Screenshot: Hitman 2

Besides the main story, you have several other modes to play. Sniper Assassin is one of two multiplayer modes, which has you competing to snipe a certain number of targets within a time limit. The second of these multiplayer modes is Ghost Mode, which has you and another player playing one of the story mode areas at the same time. To win, you’ll need to assassinate the most targets before the other player, and kills which are committed in front of witnesses do not count. In Ghost Mode, players cannot see or interact with each other, so actions taken by one player won’t affect the other player in any way. In addition to these multiplayer modes, single player Contracts Mode makes a comeback, allowing you to create your own missions by marking non-player characters in a level as targets to be assassinated. Elusive Targets, also returning from Hitman 2016, are time-sensitive missions which have you assassinating special, exclusive targets. The first elusive target for Hitman 2 is Mark Faba (portrayed by Sean Bean) which becomes available on November 20th. Completing the mission will award players with a new gadget, the Explosive Pen, which can then be used in any mission. To top it all off, all of the missions from Hitman 2016 are available as a free DLC bundle for those who purchased 2016’s Hitman, and have been updated with better graphics, high-fidelity crowds, and the ability to use all of the new gadgets from Hitman 2, like the briefcase and concussive gadgets. I think this is a great thing to offer for fans of the previous game.

Screenshot: Hitman 2

Hitman 2 is the culmination of 18 years of Hitman games, and it shows. Stealth has been fine tuned, shooting is some of the best of any console game I’ve played, and the variety of ways you can complete levels means that even after beating the main story, you’ll still have plenty of challenges to complete, Mission Stories to play through, and, if you’re brave, several different difficulty settings which will put your skills as an assassin to the test. Yes, the story might not be Shakespearean in quality, but Hitman has never been a series you played for the quality of the story–you play it because it is the only series out there that lets you murder someone with a fish trophy while dressed up as a flamingo mascot, and Hitman 2 does this like no Hitman game has done it before.

Hitman 2 is available for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC.

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