HITMAN 2 has Agent 47, the bio-engineered, super assassin with retrograde amnesia on a warpath yet again, and he’s got Diana Burnwood for company. Mr. Barcode Head has come across some serious revelations that could possibly uncover his mysterious past. The game is IO Interactive’s first one after separating from Square Enix, but with one key change. All missions have been released already unlike the previous HITMAN title where the levels were to be released in an episodic fashion.
HITMAN 2 is the same as HITMAN but with slightly improved graphics and a new game mode. Everything else about the game has remained the same. The moment you experience the UI you might consider HITMAN 2 to be a DLC of HITMAN, and this perception continues to remain throughout the game. The movement restrictions which have become characteristic of the title is still present. What IO Interactive has added are newer ways of knocking off your target and that’s something you’ll have to find out by yourself as you keep exploring more ways to replay the same level. However, there are a few new features of note.
The most convenient new feature is the picture-in-picture window that pops up in a corner of the screen that shows any incident of note. Have you left a body unattended in the middle of the hallway? Someone is bound to discover it sooner or later and set off an alert. The PIP will show you the exact moment when the discovery
The other addition is more of a different take on an existing feature. The Sniper Assassin mode, which has been present since Absolution, now has a co-op mode. So you and a friend can now take out multiple targets from afar before any of the marks make an escape. The premise of the mode seems suspect because you are Agent 47, and Agent 47 works alone, so a co-op mode seems contradictory to the lore of Mr. Barcode Head.
Then there’s Ghost mode which is a competitive mode wherein you and another player go head to head at the same time. You can always see the other player and how they go about the level. Think of yourself as taking up an open contract with multiple marks on the same level. Both players get the targets in the same vicinity, so you have to get to them before the other guy triggers an escape event by leaving a body in the open. If you get your target before the other guy then you will be assigned another target and then you can go about your little massacre. Since it becomes a bit too competitive, you stop hiding bodies and soon enough, there are way too many alert guards roaming about. So the level difficulty keeps on going up the longer you’ve been playing in that level.
The elusive targets are back and it’s the same as before. A new character appears on one of the existing levels and you have to take them out. The first elusive target in HITMAN 2 is a character named Mark Faba that has been voiced by Sean Bean. IOI has done a pretty decent job at getting the actor to do the voice acting part. Going so far as to incorporate a certain running gag about Sean Bean into Mark Faba’s back story. It’s a fun run, and hopefully, later elusive targets will be equally fun to play as well.
There are only six levels in HITMAN 2. Prima facie, that’s an absolute bum deal but as you play the levels, you’ll realise that you’re definitely getting your money’s worth. The first level is about building familiarity with the game for newcomers. So it’s a pretty small and simple level wherein your focus is on ensuring stealth. However, given the direction IOI has taken with HITMAN 2 i.e. the same UI, same game mechanics and even the same two tutorial missions as HITMAN (2016), there really was no need for the first level – Hawke’s Bay – to be this simple. It should have been as intricate as the others.
With the other levels – Miami, Santa Fortuna, Mumbai, Whittleton Creek and Isle of Sgàil – you can really have a lot of fun with retries. Based on the story that you wish to unravel, a certain levels has a different set of dialogues and pathing for the characters. Your strategy has to change accordingly and some approaches have more replayability than others. Some of us ended up playing a certain level way too many times to see how each run would play out. Also, watching your mark fly across the sky is surprisingly entertaining, no matter how many times you execute them.
Some levels such as Mumbai and Santa Fortuna are quite elaborate and can take you quite a while to get through. Then again, we’ve seen speed runs wherein folks have finished such elaborate levels in 7 minutes and the smaller ones in less than 4 minutes. We ended up taking upwards of an hour to finish off Mumbai. On one hand, it was exciting to see how Mumbai had been interpreted by a foreign video game company and on the other hand, there was the fun part of discovering the easter eggs that the HITMAN series are known for. For example, in Mumbai you can find a gaming cafe with one of the PCs running Hitman 2: Silent Assassin. They even nailed down certain stereotypes that Indians are known for. Right outside Dawood Rangan’s set you’ll find a shady guy pulling a tax refund scam. If you have the patience to eavesdrop on the conversation, you’re going to be entertained. We’re not saying that HITMAN 2 is filled to the brim with such details in each level, just that, some of them have been really well done.
The downside to having massive levels in a game such as HITMAN is that the story ends up not getting the right amount of attention. Frankly speaking, no one plays HITMAN for the story, it’s about the gameplay and they’ve nailed that part pretty well. HITMAN 2 goes a “shadow client”, someone who’s been manipulating powerful people into placing contracts on his targets. Agent47 carries out the deeds and eliminates many such targets without him or Diana
Developer: IO Interactive
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows
Unfortunately, the cutscenes are where you get most of the story of the game because the playthrough barely contributes to the overall plot. We honestly feel that the game could have been a lot better had the story received a bit more attention.
Verdict – HITMAN 2
HITMAN 2 continues the same episodic format at the previous title and delves further into the HITMAN lore. The story feels lacking but the publishers seem to have their priorities straight. HITMAN has always been about the assassinations and that part, IOI
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