Planning, precision, and improvisation are the hallmarks of a great assassin. This mentality has been the cornerstone of the Hitman franchise since its inception and no installment reflects this better than IO Interactives Hitman 2. Boasting a collection of new maps and numerous gameplay refinements, Hitman 2 propels the series forward with only minor issues.
Continuing the story from the last Hitman game, we follow Agent 47 as he attempts to unravel and dismantle a shadowy organization trying to control the world. Portrayed through missions, moving picture cutscenes, and dialogue, Hitman 2 takes itself way too seriously. In a series known for its black humor, the story is trying way too hard to add real stakes to your missions.
This is often at odds with the slapstick and over the top methods used to kill targets. When I can dress up in a mascot uniform and slap someone unconscious with a fish, suddenly this big, conspiratorial plot feels disconnected. It’s not that the story is poorly acted or written, but it just doesn’t fit with the rest of Hitman 2. Plus, the moving pictures are an especially odd choice given all of the cutscenes in the last Hitman were fully animated and are included with the Legacy DLC.
Thankfully, the rest of Hitman 2 makes up for this stumble with its polished and acting gameplay. Boasting 6 new levels – not including the co-op Sniper Assassin mission – Hitman 2 ditches the episodic formula of its predecessor in favor of offering every map from the start. This gives the game greater replayability as we are no longer confined to one map every few months.
Every map feels completely different than the next, posing new challenges that users need to quickly adapt too. Miami’s racetrack is extremely crowded, which can make isolating key targets especially difficult. In contrast, the suburbs of Vermont are spacious but well guarded. My personal favorite is the crowded, labyrinthian slums of Mumbai, since enemies are actively aware of your presence and are far more alert. All of these are exceptionally well designed, with multiple points of entry and secrets to uncover.
Within these levels are Mission Stories – formally known as Opportunities – which act as more elaborate and cinematic ways to kill your targets. Unlike using a silenced pistol or knife, Mission Stories produce some truly spectacular kills. These range from sabotaging a racing car to pushing a statue on someone to strangling a person with a diamond necklace. Mission Stories also act as a nice way to introduce players to Hitman 2’s various mechanics. They feature waypoints and give you a step by step method for slaying your foe.
However, if you are free to deviate and come up with your own assassinations. There are a ton of gadgets that you can use which will give you a needed edge in these new maps. Old favorites such as the various poisons return, alongside with the new briefcase which lets users sneak items past security. All of these provide players a nice layer of depth and encourage experimentation when entering a new map. You can obtain these items by leveling up by pretty much just playing the game. Hitman 2 is generous with experience and even at level 50, I had a ton more to unlock.
You’re going to need these tools and weapons too since the A.I. appears to be more aware of our presence. Even though the coin is still comically overpowered, the various guards and NPCs are not as susceptible to your tricks. Hitman 2 makes you work for your kills and old tricks from the last game may not work this time around. Enemies can now see you in reflections, so it’s critical that you be mindful of mirrors when going after foes.
After you finish all of the campaign missions, users can partake in the Contract and Sniper Assassination mode. The former allows players to plan, execute, and then challenge other people to their own custom assassinations. It’s a fun way to make players think about how they see the world of Hitman 2 and it’s a feature that will only grow as more players pick up this title.
Sniper Assassination, on the other hand, feels more like a novelty than a fully fleshed out game mode. Played either solo or with a buddy, players take up a static position and try to snipe their targets in an elaborate shooting gallery. It’s fun at first, but with only one level the mode can become tedious quickly. The idea of a co-op Hitman experience is neat, but Sniper Assassin is more of an afterthought than the next logical step for the franchise.
Hitman 2 Takeaways
Despite the boring story and lackluster Sniper Assassin mode, Hitman 2 is perhaps the best game in the franchise. Boasting wonderfully complex levels, inventive ways to kill your targets, and tons of replayability, it’s easy to lose dozens of hours in this game. While Hitman 2 doesn’t reinvent the wheel, it polishes it to a bright and brilliant shine. The future looks great for Agent 47.
Our Hitman 2 Review Score: 9/10