Hitman 2 - Review | Collectors Edition
Hitman - 2
It is hard to believe it has already been nearly twenty years since the world was introduced to the bald, bar-coded hitman, Agent 47, in his grand debut simply titled Hitman: Codename 47. Despite having a mixed reception upon release, this addition to stealth genre was welcomed and joined the likes of Metal Gear Solid and Syphon Filter to itch that niche market of stealth games in the late 90s and early 2000s. Allowing players to approach the missions in a number of ways was one of the reasons the game stood out for them. Since that time, we have seen a number of sequels and a recent reboot of the series in a way similar to its Eidos Interactive sibling, Tomb Raider. The 2016 reboot, Hitman, released with positive remarks. Of those remarks, it noted that by bringing back the more open sandbox approach of tackling missions with each location, while not terribly large in real estate, still allowed a large enough space to feel like there were multiple options to approach objectives and encourage replayability to try that new method of assassination. If anything, much of the criticism was directed at the episodic release of content rather than being released all at once even if players purchased a physical copy of the game.
Nearly two years later in late 2018, players and fans were able to take up the suit and gloves again with the release of Hitman 2 for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. Unlike the the 2016 reboot, the game was released in its entirety. That being said, there was a lot in common between the two games; in fact, aside from some quality of life updates, Hitman 2 could essentially be Hitman (2016)...But More. Now, that is not necessarily a bad thing. As mentioned before, the predecessor was praised for its graphics, replayability, and updates to the gameplay. Hitman 2 could be seen as an expansion to the groundwork previously laid before. In fact, players are able to play the all missions from the previous game with this game’s updates (after purchasing the “Legacy Pack” DLC, of course). That being said, Hitman 2’s story missions continue the standard of providing just the right size of level (not too big or too small) and multitude of ways to take out your targets. Over the course of the game’s eight chapters (as well as additional DLC packs that offer new locales and missions to take on), players are given the chance to explore the densely populated locales where every NPC has their own little part to do to make the levels truly feel alive. Also, returning from the last game are what are called “Elusive Targets.” These are special events that the game will hold in which you get to take out a special target that is usually being portrayed by a celebrity, the first for this game being the master of dying in movies himself: Sean Bean.
Like with any good stealth game, having patience is a virtue. While Agent 47 is indeed a genetically enhanced clone...he’s still very much a one-man army infiltrating often well-armed security of some sort. If a shootout ensues, you best be looking for a means to escape and hide until everything quiets down. It does not take too many bullets and such to take Agent 47 down. You will not have any hope of completing your mission if you barge right through the door; we sure have come a long way from the “what was that noise” Genome soldiers from the PS1 Metal Gear Solid era. No, you will need to check out your surroundings in the areas that aren’t restricted and learn which NPCs whose identity you can assume by lethally or non-lethally taking them out and stealing their clothing (somehow all the security, workers, etc all are built like Agent 47). That being said, be careful, because while you are out and about, there may be supervisors (as well as pretty much every main target) that know all of the work force and will know when someone is out of place unless you quickly blend in. Also, be mindful of the weapons you carry; certain routes have security that will pat you down and certain weapons like guns can be detected while items like coins and the signature garrote are usually undetected during pat downs. One thing to note is that at times the enemy intelligence can become a little...unintelligent. Being a video game and made of (not so simple) coding, enemies can be a teensy bit predictable and easily fooled that players can possibly cheese their way to their targets. Still, it can be a bit hilarious to see an enemy be literal inches from 47 and yet they are completely oblivious to his presence; perhaps he really is the world’s greatest assassin!
Speaking of the game’s graphics, while the graphical leap from the 2016 game to this one was not huge of one (though honestly, Hitman 2016 was already a graphical powerhouse), Hitman 2 still provides players with gorgeous scenery with colors and lighting that feel like they pop off the screen. No matter what you choose to play the game on, you will be in for a visually stunning journey. The game also holds up pretty well when the screen is populated by the NPCs that, as stated before, help make the levels feel alive and force you to be conscious of your surroundings. The UI has a clean look and it is easy to keep track of and very rarely, if at all, will you be confused on what icons mean. There is a mini-map located in the bottom left hand corner that can aid you with keeping track of enemies when the camera can’t (do not worry, the camera behaves for the most part). The game does not use much of a soundtrack in the levels except when the moment calls for it, i.e. dance clubs blasting loud, thumping techno music. Instead, the game goes with ambience and sound effects to keep you focused. It may be a good idea to play with a pair of high-quality headphones built with surround sound to get a better idea of where enemies are coming from so you can plan out any for of escape route or set yourself up to subdue them. Though, of course, there are story bits where instrumentals will kick in to heighten the tension or mood being shown on-screen.
While Hitman 2 is mainly a single-player affair, it does offer a few additional modes for those willing to dive into them. There is a mode called “Sniper Assassin” in which you are tasked with taking out targets usually only your wits and a sniper rifle. You cannot move from your sniping location so you have to make your shots count and have them interact with the levels to find ways to hide your kills whether it be opening a door and shooting them into said door or over a railing and landing in a body of water. It can be quite the rush to see your killshot streaks rack up and watch your high score rise up. “Sniper Assassin” also features a cooperative multiplayer mode that allows you to team up with a friend or random player as two characters exclusive to the mode, Knight and Stone, and take on missions together. There is also a 1-vs-1 mode called “Ghost Mode” in which players are challenged to take out their target as quickly as possible. While the location is the same, the players do not actually interact with each other, thus, you cannot do anything to hinder the other’s performance. Instead, it is essentially a race to see who can finish the mission of taking out their target the quickest and most discreet. While “Ghost Mode” is a fun little romp, it sort of goes against the philosophy of Hitman of being cool and collected and taking your time to get the job done and done right without raising suspicions where instead the mode basically tells the player to hurry up and get the hell out of dodge.
Hitman 2 - Collectors Edition
As seems to be tradition with games nowadays, Hitman 2 comes with a few different editions that may include both digital and physical items that players can throw their wallets at. Of course, there is the standard edition which comes with the main game and multiplayer mode. Then there are the Silver and Gold editions of which offer one or both of the DLC expansions as well as some bonus items to use in-game. For those that wanted to flaunt their wallets and splurge for the sleek-looking Collector’s Edition, they received not only the Gold Edition of the game, but it is housed inside a replica of Agent 47’s gun case. Also inside are a collector’s coin, business card, bullet keyring, and a rubber duck wearing the signature suit (because why not?).
Hitman 2, in some respects, could have easily been just a DLC update to the 2016 Hitman. Instead, there are enough updates to the gameplay and such that help elevate the game to earning that sequel status. It is hard to know what direction the series is going with so much behind-the-scenes drama with the handling of the IP after changing hands over the years. It would be a shame to see a game that had begun to possibly step back into the limelight be cast away so suddenly and lost to time. If you have the chance, check out Hitman 2; you can download a free demo of the game on Steam that allows you to try out the first mission before continuing on and buying the rest of the game. I am sure, if you are a fan of the genre or have an open mind, you may end up liking the game more than you had originally realized.