Title: Hitman 2
Available on: Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC, Mac
Developer: IO Interactive
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Official Site: Hitman 2
Release Date: November 13th, 2018
Where to Buy: Steam, Xbox Live, PSN
Hitman 2 reminds me of the children’s story about the tortoise versus the hare. There are two ways to play through the game; slowly and thoughtfully or quickly and trigger happy. Both are entertaining, but only one leaves you with a sense of satisfaction in the end.
It is technically a sequel to the Hitman released in 2016 but feels like the content could have been included with the first game. The gameplay is no different than that from the first, but it’s Hitman’s level design that makes it stand out. The world Agent 47 explores is full of unique ways to subdue and kill your targets.
The overall plot is the lowest part of the game. It revolves around Agent 47 and how he became the silent killer he is today. The cut scenes are bland and drab. Instead of video, the developers opted for moving pictures all too dark to make out details. I never felt invested in learning more about the plot; I just wanted to get back into the action. That’s what Hitman is about. At times, the voice acting didn’t sell me on the story. Poor writing could be to blame for it as well. Each line of the dialogue felt as if the actors were trying their best to work with what they were given. For an action spy game, it felt like a B level movie. It’s full of convoluted plots and left me questioning why I was killing certain targets rather than wanting to do it. Needless to say, all the targets in the stories six missions are bad people.
In the case of the hare, you can run through the entire game and beat it in about seven hours. There are plenty of guns to choose from but the combat mechanics aren’t necessarily designed with ranged fighting in mind, aside from using a sniper rifle. When things ultimately turn bad for Agent 47, and they do so rather quickly, shooting enemies is clunky and slow. The previous game had this issue as well. If you’re not a fan of the quiet approach, you can tackle every level in the loudest way possible. After a gun battle plays out, the targets will be put on lockdown, but after a few minutes, everyone goes back to their original path. It takes away the urgency of running and gunning down everyone, knowing you can hide in a box and change into another disguise.
Speaking of disguises, they’re plenty to choose from. If you want to be a bright pink flamingo mascot on a racetrack, go for it. One of my favorite missions takes place in Miami during a formula one race. It’s perfect for blending in with the crowd and exploration, and it’s one of the brightest and most lit maps in the entire game. One disguise involves finding the flamingo mascot and luring a target to a conversation. It’s a concept that feels wacky, but at the same time works for a game as serious as Hitman. However, a few disguises don’t always work and a number of times I was caught instantly even when I did absolutely nothing to catch the attention of guards. The game is full of various disguises for Agent 47 and a multitude of ways to complete objectives. It’s where Hitman 2 shines brightest.
There are far too many gadgets and items to count in the many sandbox levels in Hitman 2. You can use classic tools like screwdrivers or wrenches to take out targets or guards. If brute force isn’t your go-to, poisoning food or drinks is an option as well. Agent 47 can even poison muffins to make people sick. Everyone likes money, and coins are once again going to be your best friend, use them to your advantage. While it doesn’t add any much in the way of new mechanics, Hitman 2’s levels are vast and there is plenty to find.
For those who want to take things a little slower and more methodical, the path of the tortoise is a good choice. Hitman works at its best when you take it one step at a time. Plotting out ways to follow and track your targets is entertaining and when completed successfully, makes you feel accomplished. Taking your time and following targets or specific objectives lead to different outcomes and it is ultimately satisfying to get an in-game cutscene of Agent 47 strangling a target with a necklace you worked tirelessly to retrieve.
I used both the hare and tortoise concepts in my playthrough. It took me about 13 total hours to complete the main story of the game, but there is plenty more to see and do in Hitman 2.
Verdict: Hitman 2 doesn’t offer anything new to the franchise, but the sandbox level designs are fantastic. Each mission is huge and full of areas to explore and various ways to take out your targets. It’s not a game built for combat, but it will happen if you slip up. It’s a series designed on stealth and misdirection. It’s a game one can replay many times over and experience something new. Take it slow like the tortoise or quickly like the hare.