December 30, 2018

Hitman 2 - Review

When IO Interactive was dropped by Square Enix, part of me worried that the Hitman games would be over, as Hitman 2016 was a great game. Thankfully, not only did the studio retain the licence, they expanded upon it a lot and with Hitman 2, it seems that everything is truly deadly.

The game picks up right after the end of the 2016 release, Agent 47 and Diana are aware of the Providence, the shadowy group that they were essentially trailing in the first game, only now we know a little more about them. It turns out that the mysterious man, who popped up at the end of each of the missions, knows who Agent 47 is and whilst he does not want to confront him, he does want to meet him. So, with a quick recap, you are spirited off to New Zealand, for the intro mission and some more plot to help shape up the story, it is here that you learn of a defector in the ranks of Providence and are tasked with taking them out, so now it's onto Miami.

This is where the game begins to try and be different from the previous, giving you the freedom to complete the mission and all follow up ones, however you deem, thanks to the openness of your items of death. I played through the mission 3 times, 4 if you count at E3 and each time, I was able to achieve the objectives slightly differently, complete with my getting hunted down and killed for walking into a secure area. As the world is far more interactive than in previous games, there is a lot for you to do, no more are you limited to just choke holds and silenced pistols, you have a range of items and skills that you can use to take down your enemy. Given the amount of choice available to you, one might be inclined to think that the game can be aimless, but it does a good job of keeping you on track with your mission, but the main targets are not the only missions in each location.

As you play through, depending on how you move around the world, you will encounter other characters, these can be as silly or deadly people, but they have their own agendas for what they are doing. Interacting with these characters is optional, but if you do, not only will you gain more insight into the world and your targets, but you will be given clues on a new method on how to complete the mission. Of course, as your targets are not easily accessible, sometimes talking to these people, or even just listening in, is enough to give you a clue and you can then choose to ignore the rest of what they are wanting, the choice is yours. A staple of the series, from the get go really, has been Agent 47's almost chameleon like appearance, letting him don the outfit of a race car mechanic to a security guard, then a celebrity tattoo artist and more and the system shows up here as well. One thing I wish they had done, was changed up the canvas bag that Agent 47 leaves his old outfit in, nothing wrong with putting clothes in a bag, but if you change multiple times in a mission, which is possible, you will have to walk back to where your desired costume is, only to see a giant canvas bag just sitting on the ground, which is not strange to security at all.

One part that the game does a lot better than last time, is that the worlds feel more alive, thanks to the larger, more varied and more detailed people that inhabit them. The Miami mission has dozens upon dozens of people all over the place, with a lot of them having conversations about topics that relate to the event. Heading to Santa Fortuna has a lot less people, but significantly more jungle to enjoy, which in turn, results in plenty more hiding spots, should you need them. The overall improvement to the gameplay, does not reinvent the series, just delivers on what the 2016 game promised, a world of assassination, where everything you do is up to you. As the story is fixed, your method of completing the missions matters not, so don't feel like you have to follow a standard path, you can get creative, the issue is though, that you don't get any form of reward if you manage to take the target out with a new or creative way.

If there was a single part that did not really change, from game to game, it is the presentation, which is a shame, as there are a few things that could have been fixed. The look of 47, Diana and the various other characters is exactly the same as the previous game, which is fine, but the locations, menus and everything else should have been given a new look. As I have both games on the one console, when I saw the menu, my first thought was that I had opened up the wrong Hitman game, only to realise that it was the right one, just a duplicated menu. This also extends to the in-game menus, which is a real pain as I was never a fan of how the first game let you explore your inventory, mid mission. From a sound design perspective, things sound about the same, I honestly could not find to much different, though Mumbai was loud and vibrant, exactly the way I expected that city to be.

Hitman 2 is a great refinement on the reboot from 2016, but that is it, whilst I would have loved to have seen them take a few bolder choices, refining an already solid formula is also welcome. Those coming in for the first time, might feel a little overwhelmed at times, but a little patience and you will find some really fantastic gameplay. Given the almost limitless replayability of the game, this single one could see you going for a year, even without the updates they are dropping, so make the world deadly and get Hitman 2.

Review copy provided by Warner Bros Games

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