Title: Hitman Episode 2: Italy
Version Tested On: Xbox One
Available On: PC, PS4, Xbox One
How To Buy:
- Intro Pack (Prologue and Paris) $15
- Following Locations $10 Each
- Upgrade Pack $50
- Full Experience $60
You can read the review for Hitman Episode 1: Prologue and Paris here.
Agent 47 is back for another mission and this time he has traded in his infamous suit for a more casual, summer attire as we travel to Italy for the second episode of the rebooted Hitman franchise. Following in the footsteps of the enjoyable and deeply rewarding Paris Fashion Week, we journey to the seaside resort of Sapienza and it is one of the prettiest locales we’ve ever visited.
As you start by booting up Hitman and downloading this installment, you feel like an actual agent. When the series was announced as an episodic adventure, I found myself on the skeptic side of the fence but now I am completely converted. As the second outing begins and you are issued with Intel on the targets, locations and obstacles; you feel as though you have been chosen for this operation. Much like Ethan Hunt from the Mission Impossible movies, you are a freelance assassin who can be depended on, given the essentials, and unleashed to achieve the objective. Sadly this sequence did not finish by self-destructing, but I think my Xbox was grateful for that.
In Paris, although the grounds of the mansion were huge, we never truly left the confides of the estate. Episode two, however, incorporates an entire small town into the proceedings. Villas, apartments, florists, salons, beaches and even an underground bunker populate this seaside haven. The most contrasting element from the pretentious setting of the Paris Fashion Show is the color pallet. Pastel yellows, reds, greens, and blues brighten the landscape from the nearby buildings; the blinding sun reflects of off the sea and the clear, blue sky welcomes you to this paradise.
Aside from the chirping birds, Sapienza does not sound particularly Italian though. There is an impressive array of accents to be heard which is understandable for a tourist town yet sadly, I do not remember hearing an Italian one. Not even a mock Italian inflection I attempt when doing an impression of Mario. The concept of hired goons being recruited outside of Italy was understandable yet when a priest in a nearby catholic church had an American accent, that seemed less than plausible.
Once you brush aside this minor inconsistency, I really enjoyed my time in this quaint, seaside town. As the gameplay area is larger than before, although a similar number of NPC’s remain, they are more spread around the village. One of my biggest complaints from the first episode was their lack of awareness of surrounding events and that seems rectified here. As I explored the town dressed as a chef, a suited gentleman shouted at me, “hey, what’s cooking?”. It was cheesy but coincided with the charm of the Italian village.
Although there is an urgency to accomplish your mission, you are allotted time to explore and seek out information. Conversations occur just as you are within earshot and this allows Hitman to feel organic. The result of this finds Agent 47 never missing important opportunities whilst still giving the impression that you arrived there just in time. Overhearing a discussion about a mysterious poltergeist can be amusing but also informative. Walk pass a salon and you can overhear two beauty therapists gossiping about a private investigator being in town. Inside a nearby Gelato store, as tourists decide their favorite ice cream flavor, I overheard a phone call who happened to be a psychiatrist working for one of my targets. When information is gathered, a James Bond-Esq score plays as an empowering prize.
As the locale is incredibly varied, the more ambitious destination brings with it more creative assassinations. Once more we have two targets to assassinate, Silvio Caruso and Francesca De Santis; however we have an additional objective of destroying a DNA virus. Hitman Episode Two starts with Agent 47 stylishly reading a newspaper on an adjacent bench to a villa, incognito. If you desire, you can select an opportunity from the menu which will kindly guide you towards a scripted encounter. Included are scenarios such as a crashed flower fan or an adulterous date with a golf coach. There is a number to choose from, all play out very differently and all, equally enjoyable. Once again, I appreciate the gentle nudge this system gives you. Simply stating that I needed a kitchen worker outfit allowed me to remain creative. I distracted an employee by causing a flood from a nearby sink and ringing his doorbell, hiding behind a nearby wall. Once this worked successfully and I had gained entry to his apartment, I noticed a damaged balcony which could have been another method of achieving the desired results.
If you choose for a more DIY approach, you have plenty of scope for that too and completing this episode in multiple ways allows you to customize the mission. New starting positions and new weapons allow you to chance upon opportunities which were unobtainable on the first attempt. Usually, episodic games are narrative-driven pieces and the story is segregated into smaller chapters whereas Hitman uses this tool to achieve something much different. It gifts you a versatile playground with dozens of objectives and challenges. Alternative targets, specific methods of butchery; these can be defined by you, other players or the developers. The longevity of this episode and the future ones will rest upon this lust for countless assassinations.
Similar issues such as the dependence on disguises and the poor, embodiment of emotions which were apparent in the first chapter still remain in this episode, however, this time they are less apparent. Even though an update installs alongside this chapter citing performance enhancements, the loading times remain bothersome and long. One worrying issue I do have is the over-arching plot. We saw a brief cut scene at the conclusion of the first chapter and episode two follows suit. The episodic nature allows the missions to feel independent from one another but if the story is heading towards a climatic finish, the momentum may not be established to make the finale feel justified.
Hitman Episode Two build upon the solid foundations laid by the previous outing. The destination of sunny Italy is gorgeous, diverse and enjoyable. I would have liked to have been fully engrossed by the setting and I nearly was, except for the lack of any Italian residents. The opportunities are enjoyable and varied. If others take the time to create exciting contract missions, I will be returning to this seaside town a few more times over the next month.
- Gameplay: Disguises, Espionage, and Assassinations
- Graphics: Exotic Destination
- Sound: Intriguing and Useful Conversations
- Presentation: Minimalist HUD Allows Freedom and Discovery
- Exotic Location
- Exciting Objectives
- Varied Opportunities
- Fun Playground
- Lack Of Italian Residents
- Loose Over-Arching Narrative