Agent 47 is back again in Hitman 2 (2018) and brings with him everything I enjoyed about the first game as well as some quality of life improvements.
One thing I’ll make clear and quickly get out of the way is that the story in Hitman 2 is awful. Unlike the previous game, which had animated cut-scenes, the story is presented in a comic book style with panels of art shown with a voice over. I have no idea what happened in the game apart from the fact that I, as Agent 47, have been instructed to take out some bad people that are key players in some evil organisation. But let’s be honest, I didn’t pick up Hitman 2 for the story, I picked up Hitman 2 for the amazing open world sandboxes where I can take out Sean Bean with a fish while wearing a flamingo mascot outfit.
As mentioned, Hitman 2 plays exactly as the previous game. You are dropped into some sort of event or small town and are tasked with eliminating 2 to 3 people in any way you see fit. However, unlike Hitman 1, all 6 locations are unlocked right from the get go as opposed to being released over the next 6 months. These 6 missions take you all over the globe from New Zealand to Mumbai to Miami.
My favourite level of the 6 happens to be the first “main” level you play. You are dropped into a super car race event and are tasked with taking out one of the lead race car drivers along with their evil scientist father. This level truly keeps to the game trailer tagline of “think deadly”.
While playing on easy or normal difficulties the game will often point out to you “mission stories” which are events that can lead you to an opportunity to take out your targets. Some of these are time sensitive and must be completed quickly, as the world you are in is almost alive. Characters will go about their day, for example, the race car driver will eventually finish her race, go onto the awards ceremony and then go onto have a medical check up. It’s up to you how and when you make your move. Hitman 2 is all about freedom and choice.
And with that freedom and choice comes Hitman 2’s amazing replayability. Every time I completed a level, I was immediately drawn back to replay the level to try and find another way to take out my targets. Do I want to follow the mission stories and be guided to someone’s untimely end? Or shall I do this classic hitman, suit only, no witnesses, no evidence, ghost style. Each level has 5 or more main “mission stories” for you to follow, but there are countless other ways to complete the mission. Luckily the in-game achievements are at hand to give you hints as to how you should look to take out your target next.
IO Interactive has also brought back the ever popular, monthly “Elusive Target” events. These are missions that will take you back to one of the story levels with a single chance to take out a special target. Hitman 2’s first elusive target was none other than Sean Bean aka “The Undying” (Note: The target is technically a fictional character called Mark Faba, but Sean did the voice acting, his likeness is used and he featured in the promotional videos for this event.)
In these events you have one chance to make it count. Fail this mission and there’s no retry button, once the target is gone that’s it. With those set of rules, the entire feeling of the mission changes. While playing through the story mode I could easily set up a save point to “test” things and reload. If it all went pear shaped, there was nothing to worry about. In the elusive events, everything is put on the line. One mistake and it’s all over. IO Interactive have made it very clear that they are not giving people extra chances, and have proved so with last years elusive missions. 26 targets, and none of them came back for a second chance. Make sure you don’t mess this chance up.
A fun new addition to Hitman 2 is the new multiplayer mode called “Ghost mode”. This mode pits you and a friend against each other to silently take out 5 targets. The first person to take out 5, wins. In this mode, you and you friend exist within the same world, but are in different realities. Basically, you can see each other, but you can’t effect what is happening in each others’ world. You start the game next to each other and it’s up to you what you do from there. You can eventually pick up some “ghost” coins, which will allow you to distract (or attract) NPCs in the other person’s world to try and make things a little more “interesting”. This mode, again, offers some great replayability.
While Hitman 2 doesn’t add a lot to its predecessor, it definitely takes what was done right and continues to improve it. While the story was disappointing, the giant, open sandbox world was more than enough to make up for it. Whether you’re a stealth strategist, or someone wanting to be the next James Bond, Hitman 2 will keep you coming back for more.