Hitman 2 (Xbox One) Review29/11/2018
Hitman 2 released a couple of weeks ago. Warner Bros is now at the publishing helm and they’ve done away with the episodic format of the last game, choosing this time to release all of the locations from the beginning. This made a lot of people happy, but I have to confess I really quite liked the fact that a new location only became available every month or so in the last game. It gave me the opportunity to really get to know each level and perfect my killing technique. I was worried that releasing it all in one big package would take away some of what I loved about Hitman.
The good news (for me at least) is that even though all of the levels are available from the moment you install them, you aren’t forced into playing them in order. So there’s nothing to stop you from just replaying a level over and over before moving on if you so choose.
Now some might argue that the snippets of story you get at the end of each level will make you want to push on into the next level immediately, but luckily for me, I found the cutscenes to be boring enough to ignore. Don’t get me wrong, the story is interesting, but for some reason, the devs have decided to cheap out on the animation this time around so we are presented with what is essentially a series of still pictures as someone narrates the story over them. No facial animations or anything.
I’m not saying this is a big problem, but it is fairly jarring. It caused a disconnect for me – it was a moment that leads me to put the controller down and pottering about whilst I just listened to the story being told. By the time I picked the controller back up the urge to continue to the next level in order to hear more of the story wasn’t as strong as my need to replay a level until I have achieved the highest level of mastery.
It probably goes without saying but if you didn’t like the Hitman game that was released a couple of years ago, you’re not going to like 2. Hitman 2 very much treads the same path as the last one, but why not? For those of us that enjoyed Hitman, this game is perfect, offering us more levels and more contracts for us to explore inventive ways of killing the targets.
The levels in Hitman 2 are amazing. From the very first level, Hawke’s Bay – which is essentially a tutorial level – the game just feels so polished and you can see the effort that has gone into creating levels that feel alive. Moving on to the Miami level confirms that but for me it was the next level, Santa Fortuna that absolutely blew my mind. It is huge and packed with a myriad of ways to exterminate the three targets. Plus this level allows you to disguise as a hippie, complete with tie-dye and bare feet. Perfect.
The Elusive Contracts are a big draw for me. I became obsessed with them in the last game but grew frustrated at the small window in which you could take them out. Elusive Contracts are time-sensitive as a new target will show up at a certain level for a set period of time. In the old game, it was usually no more than 72 hours and it isn’t always possible for everyone to play within those set times. This time the first Elusive Contract has gone live and we were given two weeks. I hope this longer timeframe is going to continue.
I do wish there was a way for players to revisit Elusive Contracts though. I have now killed Mark Faba (played by the legendary Sean Bean) and I’d love to be able to go back and see the other ways I could have done it. I wonder whether it could be possible to implement a way in which only players first attempt at the target counts towards their score and any unlocks. This way it wouldn’t make any difference to the leaderboard, or the tension that these contracts create. You’d play it again just for fun. I would, anyway.
Hitman 2 offers a huge amount of value for money, as long as sandboxes are your thing. Essentially you’re given a target, a huge level and a load of tools to experiment with. Go stealth if you want, or just equip explosives and guns and blaze through the level. Whatever works for you. That’s the beauty of these games – there’s no set way to do anything. Yeah, there are Mission Stories available in each level but you don’t have to do them if you don’t want to.
If you owned Hitman then you can import the levels from that game into Hitman 2, complete with slightly upgraded graphics and the chance to get all of the achievements again. Hitman 2 doesn’t necessarily feel like a true sequel, more like an expansion. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it just means that the devs aren’t trying to reinvent the wheel, which in my opinion is a good thing. Change isn’t always for the best and I definitely think Hitman 2 is all the better for sticking to what they knew it was good at.