Square Enix may have dropped the Danish studio IO Interactive and Hitman from their stable after the episodic reboot of 2016, but it was all for the better. Hitman is in great shape under Warner Bros and our favorite stone cold killer is back on the hunt, still wearing his iconic signature suit and tie while getting rid of rich and powerful people who doesn’t deserve to draw another breath. One by one. A bald chameleon in any environment. A silent assassin.
IO Interactive ditched the episodic route that many fans loudly protested against back when the reboot came out–and I fully agree with this decision. Waiting several months for new content didn’t agree with the DNA of the game franchise we’ve known since late in 2000. And yet, somehow Hitman 2 still feels like it was planned to be season 2 of 2016’s Hitman reboot instead of a full blown sequel. It’s very familiar in almost every aspect of the game. From the menus and user interface to the gadgets you have in your disposal. IO is sticking to the formula their known for. With that comes the predictable AI and quirks that we’ve come accustomed to.
It’s not a giant leap from its predecessor, but it’s refinements of what I already love about the Hitman games. IO listened to fan feedback and improved on things like the ability to blend in with the crowds, a useful skill for a barcode tattooed animal on the prowl. Another addition is that Agent 47’s briefcase is back, for all your weapon smuggling desires (the suitcase can only store one weapon though, so no piñata filled with items here).
The suitcase is not new to the series as it was available in the excellent Hitman: Blood Money from 2006. But for unknown (and unforgivable) reasons IO didn’t include this is Hitman: Absolution or Hitman (2016). Luckily they didn’t adapt everything that was wrong with Absolution; like the completely broken disguise system, or the linear, small levels that were broken into sections. Back is the opened up sandbox game where your options are generous, creative and often funny. The disguise system works as intended and encourages you to try out different approaches to killing your target(s). Maybe you want to be the neighborhood’s friendly postman and deliver a package to lure out your target from his home? Or maybe masquerade as a reality-TV celebrity/tattoo artist who tattoo the columbian drug-lords in their luxury mansions?
Every level got “mission stories” in Hitman 2. Some are even time sensitive and needs to be performed before certain events unfold. These mission stories explores more of the story within each level and the developers encourage you to experiment as one playthrough will not tell you the complete story. This adds to a lot of replayability to the game itself. Also, who wouldn’t like to be an assassin with a Halloween fetish? It’s up to you how to get rid of the targets. You could always go with your silenced Ballers or just choke the target with your trusty fiberwire. Nothing wrong with going with the classics.
Hitman 2 is a visually sharp looking game with 6 different missions/levels available in the story mode — all completely different as the targets are scattered all over the globe, from a typical white picket fenced suburbia in Vermont to the secretive fort at Isle of Sgàil in the North Atlantic where the whole crowd seems suspicious.
Then there’s sunny Miami, the stormy beach of Hawke’s Bay in New Zealand and as mentioned earlier, Columbia. Known for its ruthless drug lords and coca fields. Fun fact, you can knock out enemies with bricks of coke in this level, $120.000 well spent. As a matter of fact, the world of Hitman got a wealthy amount of different objects that can be used as letal/non-lethal weapons or as means to manipulate the environment around you. There’s knives, hammers, axes, cans, crowbars, muffins (!) and so on. I could go on forever. This is not even the tip of the iceberg.
Hitman 2 got additional modes also. My favorite is the Sniper Assassin mode. Here, you’re not free-roaming like you traditionally do in Hitman; instead, you’re located in a sniper nest, scoping out a huge mansion located in Austria. The objective is to assassinate three main targets who’s attending a very crowded wedding. Secondary objective is to kill all fifteen guards. If anyone sees you kill a target, cover is blown and you can kiss that leaderboard high-score goodbye as the targets will attempt to escape. It’s a sniper puzzle game, and it’s very addictive. You can play this in co-op, but unfortunately they have not added matchmaking options for this mode. So I haven’t tried co-op on this yet as it requires friends playing it online.
And for the first time, there’s a free-roaming multiplayer mode. You compete with another player on taking down randomized targets first without getting caught within certain amount of seconds. To each other you’ll be like visible ghosts. You can see your opponent but you can’t normally interfere with his gameplay. So it’s more of a race to get to the targets first. A fun mode for shorter sessions, yet not something I think I’ll play a lot myself. Then there’s the Elusive Target mode brought back from 2016’s Hitman. These are timed events where you have only one attempt to get it right. A proper hardcore mode.
Next up for killing is actor Sean Bean, but unfortunately this event has not started. Then there’s Contracts mode where you can create challenges for others players by setting the rules for specific assassinations. It’s all about the leader-board bragging rights. The world of Hitman 2 is very detailed, but is not “Red Dead Redemption 2” type of stunning visually. It’s more stiff in animations and it still got that distinct style style. That “clean” look. Nor is it anywhere near being able to deliver a story that you will remember for the rest of your life. But that doesn’t really matter.
Hitman 2 delivers on what it does best, creating a world where you can be the Hitman. Where you can plan the hits by observing, waiting and striking at the right time — where the game rewards you for being patient — all while living out the Dark Passenger fantasy where you cleanse the world from really bad people. One rotten apple at the time… Agent 47 is back! 4/5 Bibles.