We loved Hitman 1, and here is to hoping this one is the same. So, now you’re wondering: Is it?! It is obvious. One look at the bald, sharply dressed man on the cover, grim as death and armed with pistols in each hand, and you can tell you’re in for another ride with Agent 47. Hitman 2, released simultaneously for the PC, Xbox, and PlayStation 2 platforms, is the sequel to a PC game released two years ago by Denmark-based developer IO Interactive. One that does not disappoint.
The original Hitman: Codename 47 featured some undeniably impressive technical elements, but it also had a number of serious problems. Some players were able to overcome the control issues and punishing difficulty level of the game and appreciated it on the strength of its violent concept–you played as a genetically engineered contract killer and were tasked with stealthily eliminating a number of well-guarded targets. At its best, the game offered both full-on intense action as well as plenty of nail-biting suspense. The sequel takes this same idea a step further and fully realizes it, proving that IO Interactive has the ability to back up flashy graphics and controversial subject matter with great gameplay. Simply put, Hitman 2 fixes virtually all of the problems of its predecessor and stands tall on its own merits as an outstanding action and stealth adventure game.
The game comprises more than 20 missions in all, which you will play through one after the other. Though the settings and the details of each mission are different, most all of them share some basic themes: getting in, eliminating a key target, and getting out. How you meet your objective is up to you, whether by guile and stealth or by brute force, and most missions are cleverly designed to have at least several viable, even intuitive solutions. If you’re really good, you can make it through most missions leaving only a single corpse behind–the only one that matters–and you can make it through having never even drawn a firearm. If that’s too subtle for you, you can opt to try to mow down anyone who stands between you and your victim. But you will need to be careful, because your primary target might flee the scene amid whatever turmoil you cause.
As 47, you have access to the sorts of moves and weaponry that you’d perhaps expect from a character of his nature. You’ll get to see 47 ply his deadly trade from a default third-person perspective, though the developers added an optional first-person view as well. That’s a nice touch, but still, it is hard to pass up the third-person option, since it gives you a clear look at all of 47’s lifelike animations and gives you some good peripheral vision too. While 47 has no hand-to-hand combat moves, he can take out foes at close range by slashing their throats in one quick motion, strangling them with his trusty fiber wire, or knocking them out with chloroform–an uncharacteristically humane addition to 47’s arsenal. Melee weapons ranging from a golf club to a katana are also available, as well as a massive variety of real-world firearms.
Hitman 2 is exceptional, and I can’t stop playing it over and over. IO Interactive has a hit on their hands.