Hitman 2 Review
Frequent Flyer Killer for Hire
Published on November 30, 2018
Release Date: November 13th, 2018
Platform: Windows, Playstation 4, Xbox One (Played on Windows)
Developer: IQ Interactive
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Following some of the reception for 2012's Hitman: Absolution, the minds at IQ Interactive took feedback from fans and re-evaluated what makes a satisfying Hitman experience. The fruit of their efforts was shown in the episodic HITMAN published by Square Enix in 2016. Agent 47 once again traveled the globe eliminating targets in non-linear locales in what was tagged as a “World of Assassination.” Now under publisher Warner Brothers Interactive, IQ interactive hopes to buoy off the success of the reboot title with a direct sequel.
It is important to get this out of the way; HITMAN 2 is not released in the episodic format that its predecessor took. From the very beginning, all of the game's six locations are available for play. The content can be played at one's own pace without worrying about release schedules or being wary about a season pass that may fall short of expectations.
Jumping into the first location beyond the prologue/tutorial, the sheer vastness of the locale becomes very apparent, a trend that all others continue. It is rewarding to explore the level thoroughly, uncovering infiltration pathways, gathering intel from bystander conversation or various collectibles, and scouting out possible avenues to pull off a clean kill. Areas with only one method of entry are far and few between, giving a lot of freedom to players and eliminating the sense of restrictive gameplay. For a couple of maps, the idea of vastness works against them due to marks being so separated from one another that it feels two different instances within one world locale. The various locations offer a decent variety, taking place in regions such as India, Colombia, and the United States. While impressively large in scale, I may have preferred a larger quantity of smaller scale stages to help alleviate the limited instances of broken cohesion and keep the action area focused.
On the topic of gameplay assistance, HITMAN 2 handles things very well for all types of players. Hints and Mission Story guidance can be disabled, even including disabling specific components of the HUD and Instinct Mode. Instinct Mode is the stand-out ability since it gives Agent 47 limited ability to see bystanders and guards within a limited range in addition to highlighting nearby intractable objects. It's a nice touch to be able to disable certain components at will through the options menu and make an overall more comfortable gameplay experience.
Anyone familiar with older titles like Contracts or Blood Money will find that the gameplay at its core remains by and large unchanged. In what I can only describe as stealth-lite, civilians and guards have ailing eyesight and limited hearing regardless of difficulty setting. Unless wandering directly in front of a person, Agent 47 might as well not exist under most circumstances. Despite that, coins being thrown will immediately distract the avaricious individual from a few yards away, and they do react to the lights being turned off. Choking or throwing non-lethal objects at guards to knock them out rarely elicits a reaction or concern from their buddies who are often about fifteen feet away. Certain liberties must be taken to not make the game impossibly hard, but it does lessen the tension around infiltrating a guarded facility.
While disguises were mostly useless in Absolution, the idea that those who would be familiar with the “role” 47 has assumed would become suspicious if acting out of character would have helped increase tension and difficulty. The supervisors and other individuals able to start seeing through a disguise in HITMAN 2 are too few and far between to really raise the risk of scuffing up an infiltration effort. It makes it overall feel easier to wander around without worry than it should. However, since exposure isn't one of the major concerns, it does let the focus stay on the primary purpose of shadowing the marks and figuring out where they're most vulnerable.
HITMAN 2 tends more to the safe side and relies on the framework of its predecessor to provide more of its signature brand of assassination. The most notable change is the incredible size of the locations as well as spending that extra time to make sure each area has a purpose and feels satisfying to explore. The disguise mechanics leave a bit to be desired, but there is still the capability to take on challenge runs through the Contracts system that enact various restrictions. Plenty of reasons exist to keep going back into the locales, increasing replayability significantly and help keep the limited number of regions from getting too stale as Agent 47 continues his worldwide tour.