Game Review, Video Games

Hitman 2 Review

Hitman (2016) is one of my favorite games of the last decade. So naturally, when they announced a sequel earlier this year at E3, I was extremely excited! I was so excited, in fact, that I pre-ordered the Collector’s Edition of the game on the PS4, which included the Gold Edition of the game. Thanks to that, I have had access to it for four days longer than Standard Edition buyers, as it’s only come out today.

And I’ve already beaten it.

Hitman 2 takes several steps forward in improving the quality of the gameplay from the first. However, each step it takes forward is accompanied by a small step backwards in story telling. Whether or not that’s a problem, however, will depend on the person.

It sure wasn’t for me.

Let’s start with that story, so we can get the negative out of the way. If you do care about the plot, be warned: there be spoilers ahead.

It picks up right where the first game left off, just as soon as it’s done with a recap for those who didn’t play it. 47 has been hired by a new client to hunt down the Shadow Client, the man who set up most of his contracts from the first game. However, around the midway point, 47 meets the Shadow Client, who turns out to be an old friend from his childhood training as an assassin. Upon learning this, he and his handler Diana change sides and begin to hunt down a secret organization that controls the world from the shadows.

Sure, it’s not a terrible plot, but it’s also not a great one. Few of the characters are interesting, and only a few more are well voiced. Roughly twenty percent of the voice cast sounds like they were plucked from the hallway and put in the recording booth. Don’t get me wrong though: they are the best kind of bad.

The funny kind.

The big problem with the plot is the quality of the cutscenes. In the first game, they were all very well animated and pretty to look at. Here? They’re a series of pretty stills with only a few animated particles for added flavor. This makes the story incredibly uninteresting to sit through. I got so bored in fact that I picked up my Switch and started playing other games until the cutscenes were over and I could play Hitman again.

Which brings us to the positives of the game: the gameplay itself.

Hitman 2’s gameplay follows a simple philosophy: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Instead, it makes several small refinements to make the game play better. They aren’t enough to revolutionize the game, but they are enough to set it apart from the first game.

There are tons of these little changes, so let’s go in and bullet point those really quickly. These changes include:

  • Improved scoring system
  • Actions in game now display their point values
  • You can now see a camera’s field of view
  • Camera’s can now alert enemies if you’re doing anything illegal
  • There are now three difficulty settings: Casual, Professional, and Master
  • Game now alerts you to bodies found by showing which body was found and where
  • New weapons, including: a tranquilizer gun (which I only found in the tutorial then never again), a concussion grenade and a flash bang
  • Many, many new disguises (surprising who?)
  • New Purple objectives (non-murder related tasks to complete)

These additions make playing the game all the better. Unfortunately, they’re so small that it makes this game feel more like an expansion pack then a full sequel.

But let’s be real: people play Hitman for the massive maps and funny murders. So how are those? Fucking excellent, that’s how!

All the new maps are fun to move around and memorable. From a race track in Miami, to a suburban neighborhood in America to a castle on an isolated island, the variety of the levels are huge and vastly entertaining. They’re each filled to the brim with fun and unique ways to kill the targets held within, and all of them are really fucking fun.

Which brings us to the most important aspect of the game: the murders.

Each target has tons of fun ways to take them down, and I fucking love it. These include:

  • Kicking a chick into a pit to her death while disguised as a Pink Flamenco after blackmailing her
  • Delivering a love letter before tossing the poor woman into a pool infested by piranhas
  • Fixing a man’s meth producing machine and then shoving him inside to be ground up inside
  • Running over a man with his own submarine
  • Dressing up as a tailor and strangling a woman to death with a tape measure as you take her measurements
  • Moving a man into position so another assassin can snipe him
  • Locking a treasure hunting woman in a giant metal cage and setting it on fire for a ceremony

I assure you: if you’re here for goofy murders (like I was) then this game is just for you.

Now, there are two modes outside of the main game: Sniper Assassin mode and Ghost mode. These, unlike the main campaign, are primarily built for multiplayer.

Now, I’ll admit: I haven’t played Ghost mode. It was in the Beta phase when I played the game, so I decided it wasn’t ready to be reviewed. Maybe I’ll get back to that once it comes out of Beta. I did, however play the Sniper Assassin mode.

I’m not a fan.

Sniper Assassin mode is the most bare bones thing I have ever played. There is only one map, and one set of three targets (not including their bodyguards, who you also have to kill). You need to murder all of them with a sniper rifle before they can escape. Sounds fun, right?

It’s not.

If that map and those targets were just a regular Hitman map, it would be great! It’s a really pretty map, and murdering everyone during a wedding sounds like fucking fun! WHY AM I FUCKING RESTRICTED TO THIS GOD DAMN CLIFF AND THIS GOD DAMN SNIPER RIFLE?!

I’m sure it’d be more fun if I played it co-op, but I didn’t have a friend to co-op with, so… it’s not exactly an option for me. I’m kind of the only person in my circle who is super big into the Hitman games. And there’s no way I’m playing this mode with some random dude.

Although that might be more fun than I’m giving it credit for. Who knows?

Overall, my thoughts on this game are mostly highly positive. I came for goofy murders, tense chases when everything went wrong, and massive and fun to explore maps. I got all of those. If I had come for a good story, however, I feel I’d be very disappointed.

I’d recommend this game. Yes, the plot is weak, but the gameplay is extremely solid. If you want something fun to spend your time with, this is an excellent game to go with.

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