Review: Hitman 2 (Computer)

Reviewed by Prans Dunn, posted Dec 1, 2018, last updated Dec 2, 2018
Dec 1, 2018
  • Release Date (NA): November 13, 2018
  • Release Date (EU): November 13, 2018
  • Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
  • Developer: IO Interactive
  • Genres: Stealth, Action
  • PEGI Rating: Eighteen years and older
  • Also For: PlayStation 4, Xbox One
  • Single player
    Local Multiplayer
    Online Multiplayer
    Co-operative
Agent 47 is back to hit men harder across the globe from Mumbai to Colombia in Hitman 2! Does it live up to its predecessor, the 2016 Hitman?
Prans Dunn

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Before indulging in Hitman 2, it is highly recommended to play the 2016 Hitman reboot of sorts in order to grasp the plot and make sense of the world. This is because Hitman 2 follows shortly after the events of its prequel, where Diana Burnwood and Agent 47 collaborate with Providence to eliminate the Shadow Client and other high-profile targets with the promise of learning more about 47’s past.

If you haven’t played the 2016 game, then you are in luck as Hitman 2 offers the Legacy Pack at an additional cost. It brings all of the original 6 locations (Paris, Sapienza, Marrakesh, Bangkok, Colorado and Hokkaido) as DLCs in an enhanced and remastered version of Hitman with new features from Hitman 2 like improved AI, new difficulty levels, new gameplay items (briefcase, dart gun, flash grenades), the new picture‐in-picture mode, among others. Moreover, owners of the previous Hitman game will have access to the Hitman Legacy Pack at no additional cost and can experience the game again with the new features.

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In the same vein as Hitman, the sequel pits Agent 47 in seemingly impossible - borderline ludicrous - situations in vast and varied locations like dismantling a drug cartel in Colombia, eliminating a pro race driver while she's in a tournament and identifying a faceless mafia in Mumbai’s human and concrete jungle all on Agent 47’s own. However, as the blank slate that he is, Agent 47 can blend in almost any situation by disguising himself as anyone who can be granted access to move forward in otherwise restricted areas. Flamingo mascot? Barber? Artist? Local thug? Agent 47 can be anyone and everyone, no questions asked and will even appear to be quite the connoisseur in whatever role he is taking by sharing well informed conversations with his targets and NPCs. Such instances where the game pokes fun at itself lightens the mood in the otherwise grim gun for hire line of work.

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They told me I could become anyone when I grow up, so I became Agent 47

To come to 47's aid, there are numerous on-site items that can be procured from seemingly innocent screwdrivers to menacing guns to poisons. Important tidbits can be found by reading littering snippets and by eavesdropping (my favorite). While many of the items recur in the other levels, your modus operandi can feel repetitive if you don’t attempt different assassination methods but the game does provide enough incentive to experiment if you take the time to explore the levels. Above all, the method that players choose to complete a mission is left to them. They can follow ‘Mission Stories’ or discover other routes by themselves and complete all challenges that a mission has to offer. In so doing, they will earn completion points that will unlock new starting points and items. Missions are actually meant to be played more than once to better understand the plot but also to spice things up by starting up at different locations and eliminating targets in different ways.

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Agent 47 is always outmanned and outgunned but never outsmarted and it’s up to you to figure out how. Bear in mind that going rogue will get you nowhere while stealth and disguise are your greatest assets. Poke around, observe and don’t rush, and you’ll be bound to discover a hint. For example, when tasked to assassinate a crooked movie producer in Mumbai, I was surprised to find another sniper assassin tasked to take out the same person while I was exploring an apartment block. As such, I just had to help get the target in his line of sight so that he could do the dirty work. Such subtle and unexpected ways to progress really makes Hitman 2 shine as a stealth game and as a huge fan of the genre, I couldn't be anymore enticed.

If the gameplay so far sounded familiar, this is because Hitman 2’s took a lot from its prequel. That's mostly because IO Interactive adhered to the adage “don't fix what's not broken” and indeed Hitman's gameplay is far from broken. However, they did include some new additions like the new picture‐in‐picture feature which provides instant feedback in a small, separate popup window like when you’ve been caught on camera or when a body has been discovered so that you can plan your moves accordingly. There is also an improved environment-blending mechanic where Agent 47 just has to approach crowds or crouch in foliage to render him quasi-invisible to foes on the lookout for him. This feature feels seamless and can be of great aid if a crime has been discovered or if someone is feeling suspicious of 47. This came in handy particularly in Mumbai where local mobs were on the lookout for anyone suspicious and 47's chrome dome was safer navigating incognito among the crowd than elsewhere. These new features have also been added to the Legacy Pack and having played it myself, I can attest that they do make the prequel feel more fluid.

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To amp up the challenge, Hitman 2 offers three different levels of difficulty settings which alters features like the AI behavior, combats and the number of saves in a mission. You can also toggle the guidance features to your liking during story missions which points you as to where to look for clues.

One of the highlights of the game is the free weekly contents like the Elusive Targets, Escalations, Challenge Packs & Contracts, all of which greatly add replay value to the title as a whole. The Elusive Targets are available as a single mission that are available during a limited timeframe and can only be played once. If the player fails, the mission is forever lost. This gives a sense of urgency, forcing the player to take a more meticulous approach to ensure the successful completion of the mission. The first Elusive Target featured Sean Bean as Mark Faba because Sean Bean’s characters don’t simply survive.

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One thing that I do deplore in this title is that the cutscenes are just voiced stills. It would have made for a seamless, more impressive, more cinematic experience should the cutscenes be animated with the gorgeous aesthetics found throughout the game.

Additionally, the story mode features only six levels, and even if they have great replay value, they are still the same levels. Only time will tell how long the free weekly content will continue to bring a fresh coat of paint to the game.

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Hitman 2 also packs two online modes, complete with leaderboards. The first one being Sniper Assassin, an online co-op where up to two players collaborate online to eliminate targets with - you’ve guessed it - snipers. There is also the 1-Versus-1 Ghost Mode pitting two players online to determine who can take down the most targets in a match. Rather than being game changers, these modes feel more like “nice to haves” to me, and will appeal to the more competitive among you.

HITMAN 2 – Gameplay Launch Trailer

Verdict
Pros
+ Freedom of playstyle
+ Replay missions from different angles
+ Free weekly content
+ Improved gameplay
Cons
- Still cutscenes
- Only 6 levels in the story campaign
- Recurring items in levels
8 Presentation
Vibrant, varied and beautiful landscapes are what defines Hitman 2's levels but the omission of animated cutscenes is too flagrant.
9 Gameplay
Rather than feeling more of the same, Hitman 2 greatly improves on its predecessor’s mechanics to make for a more fluid and seamless gameplay favoring stealth and a strategic approach.
9 Lasting Appeal
The game is far from over even if you have completed the story mode. With its competitive online modes and free weekly content, you will have more than one reason to come back to the game, unless if you don’t want to play the same levels in different angles.
9
out of 10
Overall (not an average)
Stealth gaming done right.


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