Review: Hitman 2 (PS4)

Developer: IO Interactive
Publisher: Warner Brothers Interactive Entertainment
Genre: Stealth, Action
Platform: PS4, Xbox One, PC
Rating: M for Mature
Price: $59.99

Back in 2016, I was still very new to writing game reviews. That was also the same year that Hitman (2016) came out in its episodic format—it was also my first episodic review. My final thoughts were that it ended up being a solid product by the end, but the episodic format made it tough to see where the story was headed. It was fun to look back on my reviews for the previous entry, because of my growth as both a person and a writer since then. Things have also changed for IO Interactive since that final episode. No longer under the umbrella of Square Enix, they now have Warner Brothers backing them for Hitman 2. This addition to the series has stepped away from that episodic format they experimented with. Agent 47 is back at it, and the world is his playground.

Content Guide

Violence: Hitman 2 puts players in the role of Agent 47, a trained assassin. Players are required to kill their targets and will be knocking out bystanders to take their clothes as disguises. A variety of weapons can be used to subdue or kill targets, such as guns, blades, and blunt weapons. Various inanimate objects can also be used to kill or knock out people. Other options include using environmental devices to kill targets, like putting someone in a wood chipper or sabotaging a device. An extreme example is a scenario in which a player can sabotage an escape door; the result is a woman being lit on fire in front of a whole crowd as she performs an illusion for a ceremony. Blood splatter is seen during these altercations as pools of blood appear under dead bodies.

It is important to know that the game encourages players to replay each map to kill and subdue targets in creative ways. Doing so will earn players a point score and unlock rewards that involve more weapons and alternate starting points.

Drug/Alcohol Use: Multiple locations in Hitman 2 include bar areas in which people are socializing with drinks in their hands. There is one thread of objectives that lead to Agent 47 getting involved in a drinking contest in order to take out his targets. On multiple occasions, you will encounter characters that are snorting lines of cocaine or smoking marijuana in joint form. One of the missions involves the assassination of drug cartel members transporting and producing what is known as “Super Cocaine”.

Language: “F**k” and “S**t” are the two swear words that are present within the dialogue.

Review

Hitman 2 opens strong as Agent 47 rides into the beach via boat toward the property of his next target. Arriving ahead of the target, he waits for her to show up. In the shoes of 47, the player is tasked with shooting out cameras and getting into the home before the target shows up and to make the kill when she does. As one of the most visually striking locations in the game, I wish the rest lived up to that introduction. Jumping in was not difficult at all, being that Hitman 2 is pretty much Hitman 2016 in almost every way.

After that first mission, Hitman 2 drops you into the training missions ripped from the first game. There has been a graphical update and some notable improvements to the engine, but this is 2016’s Hitman down to the core. Anyone who played the first game will feel right at home with the same controls and UI. For people that have not played the first, the game will recommend that you do so while asking for an extra $20 before you even start. For that price, IO Interactive has included every piece of content from the first game.

 

The improvements to the engine may not seem that stellar on paper, but they provided a significant change to my gameplay experience. The ability to hide in bushes and brush became essential to my stealth tactics in Colombia by letting me take members of the cartel militia silently without being spotted. The increased crowd sizes not only helped with hiding and blending in, but added to the immersion in some cases. Miami created a public event for me to sneak right in, the dense streets of Mumbai were fun to navigate, and the busy suburbs of Vermont let me insert myself into a neighborhood as if I was one of their own.

Hitman 2‘s locations bring back a bigger playground for destruction but offer many story paths that can take you right to the target. It quickly became a trope in each mission, but my favorite story paths had me hiding in plain sight and interacting with the target face to face. Whether you disguise yourself as a local Shaman or a realtor, the opportunity is put in your hands to deal with the targets however you please. The multiple paths are a good way to start each location to get a feel for them; completing them unlocks new weapons and more for you to try later.

Hitman 2016 was all about replayability, and so is Hitman 2. Players are encouraged to play these maps multiple times to unlock weapons, entry points, stash spots and more. This game was not released in episodic fashion, but the format is still treated as such—so much that each location downloads separately during installation. It seems as though the developers decided to—or were told—to release it all at once in the 11th hour. That isn’t a negative though; the five to six hours it took for me to finish the story was a nice change of pace. I got everything I wanted out of it right away instead of having to revisit it for eight months out of a year.

The story isn’t meant to be the highlight of this reboot series, but I enjoyed it. Hitman 2 begins with Agent 47 hunting the shadow client from the first game. Again the story is told within cutscenes before and after a mission; we get another look into 47’s backstory and see a more human side of the silent assassin. However, the story suffers from what were once animated cutscenes being turned into storytelling through still images. I legitimately feel bad for laughing at one of these scenes because it was meant to be a serious moment. Even with that glaring backstep, I still enjoyed this story and would love to see it adapted into a Hitman movie if they decide to make more of those.

Beyond the main story, Hitman 2 offers a few alternate gameplay modes that bring new life to these locations. The “Contracts” mode is back, which I’ve always described as the Mario Maker of Hitman. Elusive Targets also make a comeback for those who want a challenge, with Sean Bean recently featured as the first of these. Ghost mode is a new feature that is still in beta and features online multiplayer; two players compete to earn a set amount of points and be the first to take down a particular target. So, if “competitive Hitman” was never a thing, it has a better chance of happening now.

My favorite new mode to Hitman 2 is Sniper Assassin. This mode includes the same kind of gameplay from the Sniper Challenge mode that came around during the release of Hitman: Absolution. The concept is to snipe the targets and their bodyguards in any creative ways you can think of to get a high score. For example, shooting targets into bushes or bodies of water grant bonus points because the bodies won’t be found. You can also team up with a friend for cooperative play, offering twice the creativity. There is only one map at the moment, and no info has been given on whether there will be more.

What plagues this game is many of the weird decisions that were made, from the dialed back cutscenes to the installation process still having each location as separate downloads. Let’s not forget that IO Interactive was without a publisher for a short time, so there were likely some compromises and sacrifices that needed to be made there. Thankfully, Warner Brother’s picked up the ball and we were able to see it to completion.

I may not be one of the people that will milk every single hour, but it was still a very memorable experience, especially my first outing in Miami when I took out the first target with a fire ax and crashed the vehicle of the other. The entire premise of the series is still dark, but this sequel embraces some of the silliness that players discovered in the first game. Hitman 2 largely feels like more Hitman, but that doesn’t make it a bad product. This is probably the most definitive package a fan could ask for.

 

 

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The Bottom Line

 

 

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L.J. Lowery

Born in southern California, but currently residing in Lafayette, Louisiana. Loves Hip Hop music, comics, and video games. Events/Media Coordinator, Podcast Producer, and Public Relations.

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