Agent 47 is a man with a troubled past — both inside and outside of the world of Hitman. Beyond your designation, 47, you are a nameless assassin with a mysterious backstory. Between your amnesia and the terrifying plethora of deadly skills you wield, along with the moral compass of a wet tissue, you are the perfect assassin. Outside of the game, however, things are a little less simple. We have a franchise that started strong, released a string of now-classic games, and somehow wound up presenting at E3 in 2012 with the infamous sexy nun fight trailer that spurred a backlash from the community the likes of which hadn’t been seen. For those who don’t remember it, the developer IO Interactive then had to write in more story to justify and explain the squad of leather-wearing nuns with high heels that were inexplicably sent to murder you. Look it up and look on in horror.
So, having not touched a Hitman game in the good part of a decade, it was with very little excitement that I loaded up Hitman 2 on my PS4. That being said, I must say that the game deserves better. The franchise has come a long way since 2012 and Hitman 2 is a very good game that deserves a very real chance to show you what it is capable of.
Agent 47’s most recent console appearance is the second instalment in the rebooted franchise and the sequel to 2016’s Hitman. It tells the story of the nameless assassin trying to take down the Shadow Client in a bid to learn more about his forgotten past. Working with your handler — the brains to your brawn — you travel the world working through a string of very loosely connected assassination contracts. Sadly, the exposition here is lacklustre at best, and stilted and confusing at worst. However, if you look past that and jump straight into the game, you have a veritable smorgasbord of death for you to doll out.
Hitman 2 starts with the catchphrase ‘make the world your weapon’. Between the half-dozen levels the game offers, there are hundreds of ways you can go about ending a life. Whether you’re pushing someone into a piranha-infested lake or dressing up as a celebrity tattoo artist and killing them with a different type of gun, sabotaging a racing car or simply shooting them out of a fighter jet’s ejector seat, the world is your bloody oyster. However, that doesn’t mean that you should ever approach the game guns blazing. If anything, that is frequently the worst thing possible thing you can do. Indeed, the most fun you will have with Hitman doesn’t even involve a gun.
This is because any idiot can shoot a gun, as the game is quick to point out. The real skill comes in killing your targets, and only your targets, in a variety of weird and wonderful ways without getting caught — and that is exactly what Hitman 2 asks you to do. If you get spotted on CCTV, you’re rewarded for searching out the security room and erasing the footage. If you finish a level one way, you’re immediately asked to replay it, get creative and try something different. Sure, you killed him with the car this time, but have you considered using a drone? There is more than one way to skin a goose, as the saying goes.
Despite the game only being half a dozen missions long, there is a staggering level of replay value here. Between the deadpan humour of someone in Miami spotting you in a flamingo costume and telling you that you have an interesting life, only for Agent 47 to reply flippantly “You have no idea”, and the four or five unique ways you can kill each of your targets, Hitman 2 will keep you entertained for hours on end. A single mission, on that note, is no quick affair — you have a walk, you see what’s what, and you plan on the fly. When you have a grasp of what’s going on (or if you opt to replay the mission), you can plan more meticulously the way in which you work your trade and do what you do best. You get quicker and more efficient, spotting opportunities that you missed the first time around.
Upon completion of a mission, you gain EXP based on how creative, meticulous and professional you were — did you try something difficult? Did you avoid the CCTV and leave without a trace? Did you spare the life of everyone you knocked before stealing their clothes? If so, you will level up very quickly and unlock new starting points, escape routes and dead drops for you to further vary how you fulfil your contracts. This is a game that rewards ingenuity, and it is genuinely thrilling to pull off a contract with such flawless efficiency that you don’t want to tell anyone about it — because what self-respecting assassin would do that?
Sadly, for all of the things this game does right, Hitman 2 is not without its weaknesses. The biggest, and perhaps most frustrating one is that the loading times on this game really punish you for getting things wrong. If like me, you like saving, trying something amusing and then loading up your game, you’re in for a long wait. At times, Hitman 2 game made the loading times on Skyrim feel like blisteringly fast. Yes, the levels are vast and sprawling in this game, but I can’t help but feel that loading a save file you made not 30 seconds ago should be quicker than that. A simple quicksave/quickload function would be a massive boon.
Then there is the question of the questionable AI which, at times, will ruin your day. In one example, I came back to the game after a quick trip into town to discover that loading the game triggered a crime I didn’t commit, leading to Agent 47 getting gunned down by waves of the local militia. In another example, I dropped a gun in some bushes and crawled away to assassinate my target. A guard in front of somehow sensed that a gun I carried into the compound was laying someone cold and alone, and went to investigate, spotting me as I helped his boss shuffle off the mortal coil. Guards with psychic powers ruin the immersion and, coupled with the slow loading times, wreck the flow of the game.
If meticulous planning and flawless execution are your cup of tea, Hitman 2 may be the game for you. With the added bonuses of the first game available as DLC (the Hitman: Legacy pack), additional time-limited contracts and even a multiplayer mode, Hitman 2 has a lot to offer. If you’ve been put off by Agent 47’s troubled past, like I was, perhaps it’s time to take a leaf out of the assassin’s book and forget about it. It really is well worth a look.
*Code kindly provided by the publisher for review*
- Hitman 2 is a fantastic game that rewards those who try something new
- Every level can be replayed in a plethora of new ways
- You feel like a genuine mastermind when you pull off a contract flawlessly
- Unlike back in 2012, this is a sensible Hitman game
- The load times are horrific, even the load time in getting from the game to the pause menu will make your jaw drop
- The storytelling is not well done, stylistically or otherwise