Hitman 2 (Xbox One Review)
In recent years Hitman has started to develop a rather troubled backstory. It has bounced between developers, publishers, and nearly met an untimely end much like its in game targets. Thankfully, Hitman 2 still managed to survive its corporate assassination thanks to Warner Brothers and IO Interactive, but it didn’t escape unscathed.
Much like Hitman 2’s development history, the in game story is a little muddled. Following on from Hitman, Agent 47 is on the hunt for the “Shadow Client”. To do so, he must travel around the world and pick apart the organisation behind the Shadow Client. Interspersed with the hunt for the Shadow Client’s army is the past of Diana and the tragic accident that killed her parents. It’s possible to piece the story together, but Agent 47’s past has had enough revisions by this point that legacy story often contributes more to the confusion rather than add clarity. That being said, it’s an interesting twist on Diana and Agent 47’s relationship.
Ultimately, how much you engage with the story is entirely down to you. Hitman has never been a series renowned for its narrative. Hitman has always been the digital Rube Goldberg machine of opportunity and assassinations. Hitman 2 continues this trend with the wonderfully complex Miami and the sprawling Mumbai. There’s even a wonderful homage to Hitman: Blood Money’s A New Life with the similarly titled Another Life. Each of these levels is as intricate as it is detailed.
There’s just so much to indulge in. You can be creative and work everything out for yourself or you can follow various in mission stories that will naturally progress towards your target’s demise. It’s all down to you. Every single mission oozes replay value, much like its predecessor, and the continued mastery mechanics beg you to come back and try out all the various challenges with.
The only real concern for Hitman 2’s level design is that the levels in the middle can feel a little bloated and require and unprecedented amount of investigation to a point where I am not entirely sure I would have pieced together the puzzle without the aid of the story missions.
Even if you do get lost in the dingy streets of Columbia, you’re in good(ish) company. The world of Hitman 2 is alive and bustling with potential. While there are some clearly repeated patterns, passers-by feel almost natural and there is a good hive of activity for your to blend in with. There’s typically a few stand out AI in each mission, that often infer that they probably hold more significance, but it never feels too egregious.
Where Hitman 2 does fall down is in the amount it has to offer. While the levels are bursting with replay value, there isn’t a great number of them. The addition of revised levels from Hitman and the extra content players can add to locations through the contracts mode, or the timed elusive targets are still based within the same locations. It all feels a little strung out. Even two more additional levels would have made a dramatic difference to the experience. Instead you’ll have to settle for the elusive pursuit of Silent Assassin ranks and creating your own fun.
This means that Hitman 2 falls under the category of “too much of a good thing”. It’s far from a bad game, in fact it’s a great exercise in perfected design. The only real downfall is that Hitman followed itself up with another amazing entry within 2 years. I haven’t had time to really miss Hitman. The effort required to complete can often be exhausting. But it’s also exhilarating. It’s a game for thinkers. A playground for experimenters. It’s Hitman, again. And that’s all it can be.