Stealth is a genre that is getting increasingly difficult to adapt correctly by the developers. As the visuals are improving, so is the immersion factor and with advances being made in the field of AI, it is challenging to design a game in an open environment. Hitman 2 isn’t exactly an open world game, but it does offer plenty of expanded and vast sections and they are open for the players to experiment around, as they try sneaking closer to their target.
While I enjoyed the original Hitman, the episodic nature of the release model was my biggest hurdle in appreciating it as a linear Stealth game. I am usually one and done type of person when it comes to games, so the periodic release never worked for it. It works for story-based games, but Hitman was never presented as such, so it never felt like a clever idea. In the case of Hitman 2, the first improvement that is easy to see is that there is no episodic model this time, so you get the full game as intended right from the beginning. Presentation, however, follows the scattered level layout which was available in the first game, but you can now pick out and play through the story in full.
For most people, Hitman 2 might not offer much of an upgrade over its predecessor, and it is true. IO Interactive has employed the rational approach when it comes to the sequel, and considering the circumstances that they had to face, I can understand why they took this decision. It always felt like Hitman had all the elements of a great Stealth game, but it lacked some polish and expertly crafted levels to complement it. This is the approach taken for the sequel, and it works pretty well for it as a result.
Before heading further into discussing the game, I should mention that Hitman 2 was always designed from the ground up to act as games as a service release. This was the case with the first game, and it has continued on with the sequel. The contracts are there for you to take, elusive targets are already being marketed with Sean Bean making the cut for being the first one to get assassinated by people all over the world. It keeps the user engaged in the game, and the gameplay of Hitman is actually well suited for this nature of continuous support.
For the multiplayer part, a new mode is present this time appropriately labeled as the Ghost mode. In this mode, you can play together with a partner online and have to work separately to take down various Assassination targets. You have to stay hidden and avoid getting caught since it doesn’t register the kill, and the person who ends up making the kill count is the winner of the round. It is a fun mode to waste some time around, but I do feel it can get a bit monotonous because it uses the same maps as the main game. The name Ghost made is there for a reason because here the other player gets labeled as the Ghost while you control Agent 47. The situation is the exact opposite on the other side. You can’t interact with each other but have to take down targets within the allocated time.
The story in Hitman 2 continues with the events from the first game. You are controlling Agent 47 who is on a mission to hunt down the “Shadow Client” militia. There are six locations available for you to explore which begins with the prologue set in New Zealand and leads to a globetrotting adventure across Asia, Europe, and America. Each site is not solely for the main story objective but offers plenty of other challenges, and completing them can reward bonus experience points. Once you finish a story level, the game offers a set of experience points and shows how many of the challenges were successfully completed. This ties with the online rank that levels up and can lead to new items, disguises, and rewards additional tasks.
Each location offers its own unique personality and charm. There are tons of NPC that walk around, secrets hidden around corners, and the map is complex enough that it will take you some time to manage everything. This places an extra layer of replay value that encourages you to return to a scene again and experience it in creative thrilling ways. Of course, Hitman is not the same without the ability to impersonate diverse roles and equip all types of crazy to weird outfits, and with such expanded space available for you to explore; there are always multiple possibilities in how you try to approach each Assassination target.
Some of the new gameplay additions this time are the return of the suitcase. As a Stealth game, you should avoid getting seen carrying around weapons in public so, with that in mind; the suitcase helps you hide them and safely transport to a place where you can make short work of your target. Even though Hitman offers a limitless number of possibilities, the suitcase is determinant in some of the difficult Assassination targets. It also lets you use the Sniper Rifle to target them from a distance in this way reducing the risk of getting caught in public, or having to devise a way to approach your victim while avoiding the security.
Lastly, there is the Sniper Assassination mode which works in co-op while also offering single-player. It feels limited currently because of the lack of maps. There is only one map to test out where you primarily use a sniper rifle to take out targets with the clock ticking down every second. Agent 47 joins together with some secondary characters if you attempt it in co-op.
Hitman 2 Review (Xbox One)
Game Reviewed on: Xbox One
Game description: Hitman 2 is a stealth video game developed by IO Interactive and published by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. It is the seventh entry in the Hitman video game series and is the sequel to the 2016 game Hitman. The game was released on 13 November 2018.
Final Score - 8.5/10
Hitman 2 is engrossing from the beginning to the end. It is a masterwork in stealth, and visually sublime with a gorgeous implementation of HDR. IO Interactive has iterated on what made the original Hitman fun, and the result is that the sequel hits new highs leading to one of the finest Stealth games released this generation.