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Agent 47’s story continues in HITMAN 2, IO’s latest dive into the world of assassination and stealth. It’s very similar to the previous game, but considering how solid the original was, that’s not exactly a bad thing. Players must lead Agent 46 through a variety of fun and evocative locations, hunting down key targets using a slew of killing methods. It’s both serious and self-aware, creating a nice blend of fun antics and hardcore stealth. It’s more accessible than previous HITMAN titles, which also opens the door for new fans to dig in. If you liked the previous HITMAN title, HITMAN 2 will scratch that same itch in the most satisfying way. It might even win over some players who aren’t huge fans of stealth gameplay, too.
The Past of 47
The story picks up where the first HITMAN left off; Agent 47’s mysterious past is in question, and his handler Diane Burnwood battles a shadowy organization along the way. As Agent 47 travels around the globe, assassinating targets per request, Burnwood discovers that some secrets are better left uncovered.
In terms of story telling, HITMAN 2 tells a lot of its plot via missions and character dialogue in levels. Cutscenes still pop up between completed levels, but they’re less animated than in the first game. Instead of fully animated cutscenes, HITMAN 2‘s cutscenes are comprised of still images will slight animation. The plot itself is still interesting, but the lack of motion in cutscenes gives things a low-budget feel. That said, the plot itself is significantly stronger than the original game.
Tools of the Kill
Although gameplay mechanics remain mostly unchanged from the first game, some small new adjustments make the experience smoother. Mission stories (previously known as Opportunities) are shown on your map, allowing quicker and more direct access to the fun scenarios. The map also displays different points of interest, showing you locations that might be beneficial to explore. This is a great way of figuring out what the central areas of a map are without scouring the entire thing.
Various quality of life adjustments make moment-to-moment gameplay smoother, with controls feeling more polished than the first title. HITMAN 2 gives us some cool new locations and targets to assassinate, but it doesn’t change much about the actual way you’ll explore and kill.
Spoils of Assassination
However, HITMAN 2 didn’t really need to change anything to stay entertaining. It’s still a load of fun to take down targets as Agent 47. Sneaking past guards, donning new disguises, and using unique weapons is still exciting and suspenseful. The main missions are varied and fun, offering a good mix between classic kill methods and more wacky options.
There are countless ways to dispatch your enemies, and HITMAN 2 rewards you in almost every way. As you complete levels you are awarded mastery points. As you earn a higher mastery on each different destination, you’ll unlock new weapons, starting locations, and disguises. Like in the first game, the mastery system and multiple kill opportunities give each level plenty of replayability. Once you’ve completed the 6 or 7 mission stories on a destination, there is a huge list of challenges and discovery feats to accomplish. Generally speaking, each destination in HITMAN 2 provides at least a dozen hours of stealth/action gameplay.
HITMAN 2 takes Agent 47 to six new locations, ranging from the USA to India. The starting level in New Zealand is notably short, but nearly every other level is jam-packed with content. Level design is smartly used across the board, and no space feels wasted. The open maps range in size, but all of them are dense with weapons to find, stories to uncover, and unique characters to disguise yourself as. The Miami map takes place during a high-tech racecar competition, which is incredibly bright and colorful. The Colombia map provides a nice dash of nature, with thick jungles and abundant fields to navigate. The Mumbai map in India is the polar opposite; winding alleys and huge buildings in a densely populated city. You can spend hours investigating every tiny nook and cranny, discovering small shops, hidden alcoves, and tons of hidden easter eggs.
I greatly enjoyed the compact Whittleton Creek map, which takes place in a picturesque United States suburb. Watching Agent 47 socialize his way through a neighborhood barbecue and attempt to sell a house as a real estate agent were absolute highlights. The final destination, a remote island in the North Atlantic sea, gives us a high security castle full of masked socialites. It’s a greatly varied set of levels, and while some of them can be a bit underwhelming (or overwhelming), they’re all fun and impressive in their own right.
Should You Play HITMAN 2?
HITMAN 2 will definitely please fans of the previous HITMAN game. It keeps things familiar and doesn’t shake up the formula, but improves upon gameplay with a variety of small fixes. The user interface and map have been expanded upon, offering the player more information and more rewards. The levels are smartly designed and the environments are varied, with each new destination feeling distinct in both look and style. While not every map is a hit, most of them are pure stealth bliss. It’s disappointing to see the drop in quality on the cutscenes, but the story is surprisingly interesting despite it. Coming fresh off of HITMAN, I thought I might have been burned out on stealth gameplay. However, booting up HITMAN 2 proved that great gameplay and smart level design never grow old, and a cool attitude and a self-aware tone keeps things entertaining. If you’re new to the series, I still recommend you start out with the first HITMAN game. However, those looking for a content-heavy stealth game with a splash of dark humor will absolutely love HITMAN 2.
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