2016’s HITMAN saw a return to form for Agent 47’s stealth-killing adventures following the ill received Hitman Absolution, with the vast open environments and focus on player freedom really giving gamers the opportunity to tackle each mission exactly how they pleased. Fans were on board with the game’s episodic structure too, whilst the additional drip feeding of free content from developer IO Interactive ensured that there always seemed to be something to return to the game for long after an episode’s release.
HITMAN 2 continues that trend, with IO Interactive offering larger locations to explore, even more ways to kill your targets, and both co-operative and competitive multiplayer as the cherry on top. It has also ditched the episodic format, allowing gamers to see through the entirety of Agent 47’s latest escapade without having to wait months in-between for each big mission.
Following on from the previous game, HITMAN 2 sees Agent 47 once again travelling across the world as he works to take down the enigmatic Shadow Client. Naturally, this means killing a lot of targets as a means to uncover more details about his mysterious foe – fortunately, it’s something Agent 47 excels at.
Players will get to explore a wide variety of locations in HITMAN 2, including a beach house in New Zealand, a motorsport race in Miami, a remote village in Colombia, and even the streets of Mumbai in India – that’s just naming a few, with other locations to explore throughout the game’s fairly lengthy campaign.
Each location is vast in size and full of different areas to explore, so it’ll really take some time to find your bearings in the game’s world and figure out the best spots to work. The levels are actually bigger than in the last game too, though that means there are naturally more places to hide and, of course, more ways to kill your targets. Those unfamiliar with the series may be intimidated at first though, especially given that each location is so huge and that there’s so much going on. Once you start to figure each level out though, everything begins to click into place – each assassination is essentially a puzzle after all (albeit one with multiple solutions), and it won’t take long before you uncover the most creative and sneaky ways to kill your target. Of course, making it look like an accident is the best approach, but you really do have the freedom to be whatever kind of killer you want to be.
Whilst each location has its objectives to complete, there are also side missions to uncover known as ‘Mission Stories’. You can find them by listening to people around you or simply speaking to the right person, with each one giving you a different scenario to complete that adds an extra notch of depth to each location’s narrative. They’re fun ways to get to grips with the game and are often a lot more straight forward than the main mission – most importantly though, they show you new ways to approach kills and even show you potential routes through a level, which in turn gives the player an easier time when taking down their main target. They’re all good fun and they’re definitely worth completing.
As expected from the series, HITMAN 2 offers plenty of creative ways to dispose of your target (and anyone who gets in the way). This might involve wearing a costume (a flamingo one particularly stood out and made Agent 47 look extra dashing), sneakily setting traps in the environment, or even using a good old fashioned bullet to the head. There’s so much variety in how you can approach a kill and it ensures there’s a reason to come back to each mission. You get scored based upon your performance too, with things like how often you were caught, your creativity, if it looks like an accident, and the time it took taken into consideration when dishing out points.
Of course, there’s no right or wrong way to complete a mission, so it’s up to you what you do. What I found most satisfying though was seeing a plan play out perfectly – there’s nothing quite like stealing an outfit, sneaking your way into the target’s vicinity, and then setting up the perfect trap to make their death look like a complete accident. Of course, there might be a few security guards and civilians who get in your way, but there are plenty of ways to knock them out and hide their unconscious body along the way. I mean, you don’t want to kill everyone, right?
You don’t have to be sneaky if you don’t want to though, even if the game does reward it. You can shoot enemies without a care in the world, though it will make life harder for you – especially if you’re caught doing so. I went on more than a few killing sprees when a mission went wayward, and the influx of guards and police that came my way often gave my target the chance to escape my grasp. Plus, the shooting mechanics of HITMAN 2 aren’t always the best, so it’s not the most enjoyable way to experience the game. Given that the game offers so many different ways to use your wit and surroundings to succeed, heading into shootouts just felt wrong – it’s possible to complete a mission that way, but it’s so much less satisfying.
If you do decide to focus on being sneaky, the game does plenty of things to make sure you don’t have too difficult a time. It’s made clear to you who’s suspicious of you, whilst patrolling guards are always made obvious too. If a guard does get suspicious, it’s easy to get them off your trail too – HITMAN 2’s locations don’t only offer plenty of hiding spots, but also allow you to blend in with the crowd in order to hide. Or you can just lure the security guard into an empty area and kill them, whatever.
One nice new feature that’s been added to the game is the small picture-in-picture video that plays out when a guard discovers a body you’ve hidden or witnesses one of your nefarious actions. Not only does it make life that little bit easier for the player by letting them know when guards are suspicious, but it’s also a good indicator of where exactly they are. It gives players a little bit of help all without holding their hand, which helps make it feel like an addition that genuinely offers an improvement over the last game.
Another fresh addition to HITMAN 2 is the multiplayer component, though it’s a little bared boned at the moment.
‘Sniper Assassin’ allows players to take part in co-operative missions as they take down targets from afar, but there’s only one map to tackle so far. It’s a neat game mode and one that I personally get a lot of satisfaction from given my love for any games that involving sniping, but the one map means you’ll be done with it quite quickly.
‘Ghost Mode’ on the other hand offers competitive action, where you take on another player in a one-on-one battle as you work to see who can kill the most targets. It’s a fun addition to the series and one that actually embraces the core mechanics of the game without cheapening the experience, so it’s definitely worth checking out. It’s limited to just one location at the moment though, but more are due in the future. Either way, I can definitely see it being a mode I’ll really stick some hours into when it becomes more fleshed out.
Of course, keeping up with the trend from the last game, HITMAN 2 is also going to offer timed ‘Elusive Contracts’ which give players more free content on a regular basis. These contracts give players one attempt at killing a target (who just so happens to be Sean Bean for the first contract, which feels like a piece of genius marketing) and if it goes wrong, that’s it: no second attempt. Having this sort of thing offers a great incentive for players to return to the game time and time again, which just adds to the replayability of HITMAN 2 in the long term.
Developer: IO Interactive
Publisher: Warner Bros Interactive Entertainment
Platform(s): Xbox One (Reviewed), PlayStation 4, PC