I remember my time in Hitman 2 as a barber. My mission was to assassinate an infamous terrorist but didn’t know what he looked like; I only knew him from the sound of his voice. I essentially had to second guess which one of my customers was the target. Despite my efforts, I had managed to screw up so badly. And by the end, I had killed so many civilians by giving their neck a crew cut before dragging them to the back that I had essentially turned the barbershop into a human meat grinder.
That’s when I realized just how fun this game was going to be. Hitman 2 is definitely a game to remember.
Enter The World of Assassins
From the get go, Hitman 2 establishes itself as a thinking man’s game. It is punishing to those who make mistakes. I took an entire hour trying to come up with a plan of approach, observing the area, and preparing myself for infiltration. And it all went south when I failed to spot a single security camera. I had armed men coming in my direction faster than horny teenage boys to their girlfriend’s house when their parents aren’t in.
But despite this, it is not completely unforgiving. 47 is the world’s deadliest assassin and as such has a few tricks up his disposal in order to get out of any situation. Provided that you are smart enough to think fast and quick enough to act.
Hitman 2 is very strategical when it comes to eliminating your targets. For you to succeed, you truly need to think like an assassin. There’s a certain feeling of satisfaction to pulling off a hit flawlessly. And yet, there’s a feeling of intense anxiety when things don’t go according to plan. How you deal and adapt to each situation is entirely up to you. If you’re the kind of person who gets sick kicks from finding different ways to kill people, then Hitman 2 is right up your alley.
Make The World Your Weapon
When the developers told us the exact quote from above, I didn’t know just how serious they were. From injecting poison to someone’s bloodstream to blowing them off the roof with a giant fan, Hitman 2 essentially turns the world into one playground of death.
47 is a master of improvisation, sometimes a bit comically so. Knocking somebody out with a muffin or a newspaper thrown to their face can knock out some suspension of disbelief in itself but using everyday unsuspecting tools scattered around you can either make or break a mission. Depending on guns alone can be counterproductive.
However, there are more uses to these tools than just throwing them at somebody’s face. For example, I wanted to pierce holes into a gas canister in order to lure people there to set them on fire. But I couldn’t do that without a screwdriver. So I had to adapt and look for a different strategy.
Regardless of where you are in Hitman 2, the environment will always be filled with everyday objects that can be used to kill someone. Where is the fun with just shooting someone in the face? When you can poison their drink, send them to the bathroom, and drown them in their own vomit then bullets can seem kind of boring.
Some challenges even include killing your mark in a certain way. These challenges encourage experimentation and reward you with more points upon completion.
What You Bring With You
Each level starts with you planning your way into a mission. From what suit 47 wears into the field to what weapon he carries with him. You will also be deciding his point of entry. But from what I’ve noticed, his options are very limited the first time he enters a map. Repeated playthroughs are encouraged if you want to unlock some advantages to certain levels.
I do love the game, don’t get me wrong. But I feel that this is where the game starts to fall a little bit. The menu isn’t really anything impressive or memorable, but I do have an issue with how 47 gains new tools. He earns them by “leveling up” and how he does this is based on how well he performs in the field. I’m a bit divided on this. There are not as many items to unlock and the variety can seem kind of limited. Each time I start a mission I feel as though I’m only working with the bare essentials. I have to scrounge up the area for something I can use. While you do get better weapons as you proceed through the game, I would’ve much rather preferred to just buy them with in-game currency you earn through a mission.
Also, it makes me wonder what would happen if you don’t have internet connection. The scoring system seems to be disabled if you’re not connected. So I question how you can earn new weapons and locations if you aren’t connected online?
Also, I do question why there isn’t any weapon customization. You unlock new weapons but you can’t seem to fiddle with them to your liking. I would’ve liked to add a silencer to the Jaeger 7 so that I wouldn’t alert any of the guards nearby with my shots. But alas, that doesn’t seem to be possible.
Some of the weapons also feel like a bit of an afterthought for the sake of variety. An assault rifle with no suppressor and a close quarters shotgun. Why would a silent assassin ever use these? I thought maybe I could’ve stored them in an area to retreat to in case things go awry, but I was never really in a position to outright use them in a tactical way. I did eventually find a use for the assault rifle when I was cornered in the bathroom but that’s only because I was screwing around.
What Happens When Playing In The Field
I very much felt like a hunter stalking his prey. It can take time to go around an area, observing every nook and cranny for a weak spot before deciding a point of entry. This is usually what happens the first time you enter a map since you don’t know anything at all about the area.
The wide open areas of the levels in Hitman 2 can be very intimidating. And despite their space, they can often feel rather claustrophobic. It’s hard to find some room to breathe when you’re surrounded by armed guards at every corner. I think Hitman 2 does a good job at putting pressure on the player. As an assassin, you both need to think fast and act fast when a situation occurs. But at the same time, you also need to take your time observing each area down to the smallest detail and decide which point of entry is the best.
There are multiple ways to approach your target. It requires a bit of twisted creativity to find a way to kill your target without being detected and winding up becoming Swiss cheese because the guards reacted. Get a disguise and get close to your target without his guards noticing, stand back from afar and snipe your target from a distance, or arrange for an accident to happen. The choice is yours.
When Things Go Bad
Just because 47 is the original assassin, doesn’t mean you’re just as perfect. Mistakes are inevitable during playthroughs and even experienced players will have a hard time completing a mission flawlessly. When playing through a mission, expecting for something to go wrong.
Personally, I find the game at its most fun when I’m making mistakes. Having to quickly adapt to them really put me on edge. I usually try hard not to kill anyone during playthroughs so it makes it more difficult to choose between fight-or-flight when I’m forced into a corner.
Hitman 2 seems to be the kind of game that encourages playing through your mistakes. But you can also do a bit of save scumming if you so wish. You’ll find the game to be very trial-and-error when trying to execute a plan. You have no idea just how good it feels when you execute a plan flawlessly. There’s even a bit of mischievous glee when you accidentally do something entirely unintended.
I’m also happy at the fact that they decided to add blind fire to the game. It can be difficult to stick your neck out completely when the enemies are approaching your position, so firing from cover was definitely a welcome addition.
Knowing Your Prey
Of course this game wouldn’t really stand up to anything if the enemy AI behavior was lacking. Thankfully, they seem to be a bit of a challenge. They react differently based on what disguise you’re wearing. They even have different dialogue depending on your outfit. One guard wouldn’t let me in through an area but asked politely not to spit on his soup because I was dressed as the chef. I thought that was kind of cool as it made wearing a disguise all the more believable.
Though regardless of what disguise I was wearing, there will always be that one person or two who will spot me inside the room. Thankfully, I always knew who it was since the game takes care to notify me who to avoid.
Most of your targets will usually have a bodyguard or two accompanying them. The real challenge comes from trying to kill the mark without alerting their lackeys. It can take a while to follow them to learn their routine and find out where they’re going to be at their most lonesome. You can also try to trigger an event that will leave you alone with your target. Or you can dose their meals with rat poison and send them running to the bathroom. There are so many options for you to choose from as long as you know how your mark behaves.
While the enemy AI can be a bit dumb at times, they do have reactions depending on what you do. Throw a coin somewhere around the area and they’ll investigate it, turn on a radio and they’ll wonder what’s with the noise, clog the sink and they’ll go over there to clean it up. At times, it can be impossible to take out an enemy quietly when there are so many witnesses. Which is why it is necessary to lure them away from their position in order to either sneak past or properly dispose of them.
Clothes Make The Hitman
47 changes outfits as often as a teenage girl changes shoes. Disguises are a big part of Hitman and it just wouldn’t be the same game without it, if even. From security guards to mascots, 47 can take on almost any disguise as long as it isn’t female’s.
I personally find it quite funny when I strangle a guy, take his disguise, and walk in front of his friends pretending to be him. They all fall for it. With the exception of a few, NPCs won’t ask any questions or look your way twice if you’re wearing a certain kind of clothing. 47 often felt like a chameleon blending in the background as the hired muscle or the cleanup crew.
I also like the fact that certain disguises allow you to take certain action where other disguises can’t. I remember not being able to fiddle with a powerful electric fan as a security guard but nobody so much as blinked when I disguised myself as the mechanic.
It’s really well thought out that even if your current disguise is compromised, not everybody will know about it. Only people in a certain area who saw you will take note to remember your disguise so you can still freely move around somewhere else without worry. Changing disguises will help you fool them again though.
The Tale of 47
Sadly, the weakest part about Hitman 2 is the story. I found it a little interesting. But I didn’t find it quite memorable. All the cutscenes feature this stale single shot without people moving along with some dialogue. The portrayal of some secret Illuminati-like society in the background left me ultimately feeling disappointed. Even the story with 47’s childhood friend Lucas Grey was lackluster.
Ultimately, the story of Hitman 2 was more about Diana Burnwood. But even when her tale was unwrapped and I discovered her past, I was left wanting for more. By the time I finished the game I was asking myself “was that it?”
It was clear to me that Hitman 2 is a very gameplay focused title. The story takes a backseat and you most likely won’t pay too much attention to it. It’s not very memorable.
Compete With Other Assassins
Hitman 2 introduces Ghost Mode which is essentially a versus mode where you compete to eliminate your target as silently as possible. I got my ass handed to me in this mode. The target is always a grayed out man with a white hat in some location that you have to kill without anyone finding out. And that can be a challenge.
If your opponent scores a kill, you only have a moment to react to gain a point. There’s some level of decision making here. Do I risk exposing myself to even the score or do I let my mark escape and keep my anonymity? In order to properly mark a score, you have to keep the body hidden for 20 seconds. Dying is possible here but it doesn’t end the game, it respawns you but every action that you committed is still remembered by the NPCs who saw you.
I like this mode as it forces each player to outdo the other. It’s a mode where you really have to keep your cool and act fast. Spotted kills don’t count so you really have to think carefully.
From murdering vicious drug cartel leaders to rich corrupt pompous assholes, Hitman 2 really made me feel good about killing these cancers of society. While my targets had a bit of variety to them, I felt no real personality oozing out of their characters. Perhaps I have somehow adopted 47’s apathetic disposition, but each of my marks felt more like I was hunting an animal than a person. They almost have no real redeeming quality.
I think it’s great that maps in Hitman 2 are downloaded separately. They all come in one package but not exactly in a single folder. My internet isn’t really all that fast so I could download one map in the background while playing the other. I didn’t have to wait past the downloading threshold for the full game to play some of the maps.
I do however wish that there was a co-op mode as well. Ghost Mode is great and all, but I do prefer having the option to cooperate with another assassin to take out a target. They did it for the Sniper Mode, why not in normal campaign as well?
When it all boils down to it, Hitman 2 is pretty much just finding new ways to kill the same targets. With only six maps, you’ll often be facing the same targets again and again. Most maps have more than just one target, but I do wish there were a little bit more variety. I still think it’s a great game. With the elusive targets coming up (I’m coming for you Sean Bean) as well as DLCs, there’s a lot to this game to look forward to.
Disclosure: This review is based on a review code provided by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment. Read our review policy to know how we go with our game reviews.