Platforms: Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC
Release Date: November 13th, 2018
Reviewed On: Xbox One X
Developer: IO Interactive
Publisher: Warner Bros Interactive Entertainment
The first Hitman game launched almost 18 years ago with Hitman: Codename 47. Hitman 2 is a true testament in how far this series has come, and with the release of the episodic Hitman: Season One in 2016, it’s truly brought the series back to its roots after a more streamlined experience with Hitman: Absolution. Hitman 2 continues to build on the solid base of Hitman: Season One. You can check out my unboxing of the collector’s edition here. As a long-time fan of the series, let’s dive into this review and take a look at Hitman 2.
In previous Hitman titles, the story was never a huge part of the game. You were a contract killer completing assignments as you go through each level, with a small bit of story in-between. Hitman: Season One started with a whole new story, initially diving into the start of 47’s career in the prologue and then fast-forwarding to modern times where you are an ICA hired contract agent. You spend much of your time in Hitman: Season One chasing “The Shadow Client” who constantly setup your contracts to eliminate agents or members of a secret society called “Providence”.
In Hitman 2 you continue your chase of the Shadow Client, which leads you through many exotic locations. Unlike in previous Hitman titles I was really drawn into how the story was told, and I found myself being excited for the ending of each mission as to find out how my assassination affected the story. One of the great aspects of the story was how they managed to tie in characters you killed or met in the previous game into the story of Hitman 2. One of the best examples of this was in the Miami level, where you can overhear a guard talking about having to go under therapy and take time off after the “Hokkaido Incident,” which is in reference to the final mission of Hitman: Season One, and ties the whole world together.
There are many conversations between NPCs talking about previous missions and “incidents” it really does wonders for the story building and makes the immersion spot on. In a note that’s not necessarily a negative, how the cutscenes were done in Hitman 2 were done differently than in the previous game. Instead of having fully animated cutscenes, the scenes are done over changing still frames of the events that are transpiring. It works incredibly well for the overall tone of the game, some people may not be a fan of it over traditional CGI cutscenes.
While we did not see a huge graphical upgrade as we have seen between previous Hitman installments, it cannot be understated on how beautiful of a game this is. This game features some of the largest scaled maps that we have ever seen in the franchise. Despite the size of the locations and sheer large volumes of NPCs, I never experienced any performance based issues. The game has beautiful scenery which if you are playing on PS4 Pro or Xbox One X, you are in for a treat. Whether its the colorful Miami level which was shown off at E3 or the vast Mumbai level which truly pushed the boundaries of what we have seen in a Hitman game. It cannot be truly overstated just how pretty this game is, with the sheer beauty and scale in some of these levels leaving a lasting impression.
The Hitman franchise’s defining aspect has always been its unique gameplay aspects and Hitman 2 is no exception to this. The most important aspect of any sequel is: what did it improve on from the previous game? Hitman 2, while not also just increasing the sheer size of the locations, has also made some great additions in regards to gameplay and realism. One specific aspect of this is, in previous games, security cameras would record you and you would have to destroy the evidence if you wanted to get a “Silent Assassin” rating. However, now not only if you are spotted by a camera, but if you are trespassing or not wearing the appropriate disguise, a guard will be alerted to your location and dispatched. Another aspect that seems so small but changes how you play the game was the addition of reflections. A classic maneuver any Hitman fan will always fall back on is catching someone off guard in a bathroom to steal their disguise. Now, you need to be careful, if they are looking up from the sink that you may have overflowed to get their attention, the NPC could spin and turn around facing you before you get the chance to subdue them. This forces players to change how they approach certain situations and forces experienced players to change their style of play.
Many classic Hitman aspects remain intact, with guided “mission stories” that will walk you through amazing and sometimes absolutely insane assassination attempts. These missions are also great learning tools for new players, to teach them different ways to tackle targets. Which is great for both new and old players, especially with the difficulty scaling of the levels. The game continuously challenges you in new ways, with each new level the game throws more guards, security and disguise challenges. Till the end level, which scales into one of the toughest, and best Hitman levels we have seen in 18 years of the franchise.
The sheer volume of challenges that you can complete in all these different levels. With some levels hosting upwards of 100 different challenges, from disguises, assassinations and easter eggs to complete. You can play through the game once, and get the full experience, but IO Interactive made sure that there are enough options for hardcore fans to get over 80 hours chasing all these different challenges.
The sound design for Hitman 2 is solid, with dramatic music queuing as you assassinate targets. The guns when and if you use them sound significantly better then previous titles. A high point of this game is the voice acting, in cutscenes, the voice actors really sell the story that has been woven by IO Interactive. It was a high point and fixed what was very average or lackluster in previous titles. Environmental audio was solid, this was insanely noticeable in the final level of the game. As you were on a lone island castle, where no matter where you were you could hear the waves pounding on the rocks and background audio of the crowd in the party talking consistently. The attention to detail was superb and this was very important to the immersion of this game.
Hitman 2 improves on every aspect of the previous title, packing in hours of Hitman fun. With hundreds of challenges to complete, if you are a hardcore Hitman fan or just getting started with the game. Hitman 2 is a perfect place to jump in and is one of the best iterations of Hitman since Hitman: Bloody Money.