Hitman 2 is a story of perseverance. A game that doesn’t have any right to exist, but thanks to a dedicated and passionate fan base and a developer that won’t take defeat lying down, its legacy gets to live on and in spectacular fashion as well. The game is a sequel to 2016’s Hitman reboot, but due to how the game is structured, things can get a bit complicated regarding its classification. IO Interactive aimed to create a sort of hub for everything Hitman and it’s more structured as a service than a regular game. It took the episodic roots of the original reboot and translated it into the new content in such a way that you can almost consider Hitman 2 an expansion of sorts.
There is a linear story running throughout the game’s campaign mode that sets up the missions that you’ll take part in, but much like the previous game, all the focus gets placed on these individual missions and the experiences inside them. While this all may sound complicated, it really isn’t. Hitman 2 provides a solid foundation that allows you to delve into its various intricacies and scenarios with as much freedom as you choose and this ultimately creates a unique tailored experience.
Hit your mark
Hitman 2 sticks with much of its predecessor’s designs and gameplay philosophies with some slight tweaks to create a more streamlined experience. When you choose a mission, you get briefed by your handler about your targets and their intricacies, you choose your starting setup and you’re dropped right into a giant map that has so many areas and interactable objects that it’s almost overwhelming. Your targets roam around the area and it’s completely up to you how you want to dispatch them from this mortal coil. The options are nearly endless and your initial playthrough of a mission usually boils down to discovery and finding the most clever ways of taking out your targets.
You have to use your noggin and all the options available to you.
This is where the foundation I talked about comes into play. The only constant throughout all these missions is the gameplay mechanics. You can interact with a plethora of objects, use your tools to get inside areas or distract guards, find various disguises that give you access to areas and doing clever actions that help you with any goal you have in mind. These gameplay mechanics are, for the most part, extremely smooth and streamlined which helps the game feel as cohesive as possible while also showering you with as much variety as it possibly can.
Taking out a target can be as easy as whipping out your silenced pistol and shooting them in the head from a bush. But this is not how true assassins get the job done. You can orchestrate elaborate events that kill your target in a way that makes it look like an accident, you can drop a chandelier right on their head, you can rig a puddle with electricity and so much more. It genuinely surprised me how you can craft a Rube Goldberg machine of murder and how the game encourages you to do exactly that. You are more than welcome to go in guns blazing and the game even caters for that as well, but to get the true experience of Hitman 2, you have to use your noggin and all the options available to you.
Killing all around the globe
Hitman 2‘s greatest asset, and what made the original so great as well, is the variety of its missions. You start off at a beach house only killing a single target and when you look again you’re in Mumbai navigating crowded streets and taking part in Bollywood movie productions with three distinctly different targets you need to murder. Each mission is its own microworld filled with all the personality that the particular location has. Nothing is repeated and much of the excitement comes from this element of pure discovery.
Thankfully the game doesn’t leave you directionless either since all the options can initially be very overwhelming. You get “story missions” that are these structured ways to take targets out that usually involve some type of elaborate multi-step plan. This helps you to get a feel for the targets and the location in general which becomes valuable during your next phase of the experience which I’ll get to shortly. Added to that are myriad challenges that task you with all sorts of ways to kill your targets and since the descriptions are so short and vague, it’s mostly up to you to find out how to do them which leads to a fulfilling and rewarding experience.
Hitman 2 is an elaborate and bountiful package.
Each mission is meant to be replayed as much as possible and the game also encourages you to do that. You’ll soon become intimately familiar with the sprawling locations and once that familiarity settles, that’s when the real fun begins. Once you know where to go, where the important items are, what can be done and you know the best routes to not be caught, your creativity can run rampant. The end result is this infinitely replayable experience where you come up with more and more elaborate and creative ways to play the game. You also have the ability to tailor the game exactly how you want it. You can potentially turn off the entire HUD and just go through the game with just Agent 47’s suit if you’re actually crazy. There are also custom missions available that allow you to choose new targets and stipulate how they should be killed such as assassinating someone with a fish or via electrified puddle.
An important thing that needs to be addressed is that this is also an evolving experience. IO Interactive is planning a host of new content in the form of custom scenarios, extra locations, more gameplay modes and extra content. There’s a Sniper Assassin mode that allows you to take targets out from a distance and while there’s only one map available now, also with a host of unique challenges, more will be arriving in the future. There’s also something called Ghost Mode that is currently in beta at the time of writing that allows you to compete with someone to see who can take targets out the most efficiently.
Right on target
My natural response to future content is cynical because I’d prefer the content to be available from day one, but what we already have is more than enough to tide us over until the coming content. This is also a surprise for me to say, but it’s worth purchasing the Hitman Legacy Pack if you didn’t play the previous game because it gives you access to all those missions, essentially doubling the content you have available to you making this such a worthwhile package.
There are a couple of big flaws with the game, however. The load times on the PS4 Pro are extremely long which is frustrating because you’ll be using the save and load system a lot for your experimentation. There were noticeable frame drops during heavily populated sections and I’d also recommend locking the framerate for the game since it makes the experience much smoother. The story is relatively throwaway and while it was interesting to see the origins of Agent 47 and exploring the complex and seedy world of the game, the story is contained to some filler cinematics between missions that don’t offer much. This is not a dealbreaker, however, considering that the focus is on the missions themselves and the story is basically just a framing device for your future targets.
Hitman 2 is an elaborate and bountiful package that plays to its unique strengths by focusing on what makes the game special; talking out targets as creatively as possible. It’s a refinement and expansion of what they established in the game’s predecessor and the game aims to be your one-stop shop for assassination-related fun with sustainable upcoming content. If you allow Hitman 2 to get its monstrous claws into you, you’ll have a hard time breaking out considering the variety and potential entertainment you can get out of every single mission. Like Agent 47, it’s masterfully crafted, extremely polished and deadly as sin. Don’t miss out.