HITMAN 2 from IO Interactive is the seventh installment of the highly lauded series, released 13 November, 2018. It serves as a direct sequel to 2016’s HITMAN, and subsequently follows fairly similar mechanics. What is HITMAN to the uninitiated? At its very core, you are an assassin (Agent 47), a mysterious, angry-looking bald man with a bar code on the back of his head. You and your handler, Diana, work for the ICA; a firm which dispatches highly skilled assassins to deal with high profile targets upon receiving a contract.
Now, you are on the hunt for the “Shadow Client” which used the ICA to target and eliminate members of a powerful rival organization named Providence. Without providing spoilers – this game answers many questions opened in the 2016 HITMAN installment, but leaves tasty teasers hinting at a third sequel.
What distinguishes HITMAN 2 is the flexibility of play styles. Although some objectives are written in stone, the player has a great deal of leeway in how to accomplish their mission. This adds significant replay value, and allows for varied play styles (“rambo” style vs “cold, calculating strategy”). Each target may be eliminated in a variety of ways. For instance, Alma, the first target, could simply be killed as soon as you see her. Yet, a patient player can wait and listen to dialogue between her and her new apparent lover. I personally threw a knife into her head when she was brushing her teeth, and strangled her partner in the shower, while they were bantering about their relationship and her personal life.
Players can disguise themselves as a specific character or role, for the purpose of ambushing the mark alone; or discretely poisoning their drink. Monitor their patterns…creativity is rewarded.
Like previous games, the player can unlock certain equipment/costumes/starting locations by completing various challenges and trying new strategies. There are also one off special missions which fail – permanently, should you complete only some of the objectives. The first one allowed the player to murder Sean Bean. 😉
This installment returns the briefcase. Have a large sniper rifle, but can’t carry it without alarming everyone? Dismantle it and put it in the briefcase! I missed this in the prequel, and remember many a game session where I just shot and incapacitated everyone on my way to the mark. This adds more options for stealth and bullet kills. Hey – want to be risque? Put on a cool outfit, get your cool gun and kill some fools.
Hide in the bushes, and wait for the perfect opportunity to disable your enemy. Then merely drag him out of view – perhaps to a garbage bin or a closet. The possibilities are endless, but if the body is found…expect trouble. Especially if he’s alive, and can describe you.
This version also introduces a new, but toggle-able video-in-video feature. When hostiles discover evidence pertaining to your existence (such as a body, or a naked but unconscious comrade), you’ll be shown the scene in real time so you know what to expect. This can be turned off, for more challenge and suspense – or you can use it to your advantage to determine where enemies will be coming from, and what they know. After all, if it’s a corpse they only know someone is there. If it’s a living person, they can identify you to their guards.
Each map takes place in a different country and biome such as an urban area or a rainforest. This adds diversity, a change of scenery and very beautiful vistas. PLUS, you can go back as many times as you want.
What’s better? This is the first installment to contain co-op play. Now you can play with your friends…working together to infiltrate and kill a target, or perhaps race to see who can get to them first. Have fun 😉
What I Love: Being able to eavesdrop on conversations, the very large variety of options for killing/trapping/distracting NPCs, the immersion of the world and the deep story. This game is well developed, and the story is very well written.
What I Don’t Love: The primary negative feedback I have about this game is it’s essentially an expansion pack to HITMAN. It’s a fantastic game, and I wholly support developers charging for their effort and continuing the story. That’s not the issue – but the “Season 1” format of HITMAN made me feel like there’d be a somewhat lower priced expansion DLC to give the continuation of the story – not an entirely new game. Yes, in HITMAN 2 you can actually get the option to go back and play missions from the prequel, but I would have liked to see more accessibility for owners of the first game. However, the new features, story writing and missions are wholly worth it.
I fully recommend this game to those who love tactical shooters, assassination games, and high quality 3D experiences.