In 2018, Hitman 2 took the world by storm. It is just the latest in a long line of games featuring the adventures of Agent 47.
Because there are so many games in the series, it’s worth asking: is Hitman 2 worth playing? Or should you get your assassin jollies with another game entirely?
Back in the Sandbox
For better or for worse, Hitman 2 doesn’t change much of the series’ formula. That means every mission puts you back in a kind of sandbox.
The key charm of this game is the room for creativity. You are given simple objectives regarding who to kill. But, how you infiltrate their location and take them out is completely up to you.
How much you like the level selection is a matter of personal taste. For example, Hitman 2 has more outdoors locations such as caves, but some players prefer to hunt their prey in more urban areas.
Wherever you go, though, you’ll be able to take care of things your way.
At first glance, this may look like a short game. With only six levels in the base game, how long could it really be?
The truth is that Hitman 2 boasts some serious replay value. Part of this comes from simply trying out every crazy thing you can think of to complete your goals.
The game encourages this through its XP system. Various activities award different amounts of experience points. In turn, the XP awards you things like new weapons, gear, and starting locations. This means you constantly find new ways to hunt down your enemies.
New and (Somewhat) Improved
If Hitman 2 is the first game you play in this series, you’ll be overwhelmed by all of your options. If you’ve played other entries (such as the episodic Hitman game from 2016), you’re more likely to just be whelmed.
This entry only adds a handful of new weapons and gadgets. Some of them are thematic and helpful, such as a stealthy dart gun. Others seem weirdly out of place, like mines and grenades.
And while there’s no wrong way to play the game, it seems like someone who wants to run and gun would be happier playing something like Overwatch rather than a stealthy game like this.
Plot? Not As Much
Here’s a bit of blunt honesty: Agent 47 is not a very compelling character. He is a cool bald assassin with a bar code on his head and the surprising ability to blend in anywhere and everywhere. And… that’s pretty much it.
If you’re hoping that this game will tell you much more about this character, you’ll be disappointed. While there are a few cutscenes telling us about this guy’s background and secret origin, none of it magically makes him an interesting character. Instead, he remains a mysterious killing machine from beginning to end.
Then again, plot doesn’t have to get in the way of a fun game. We don’t have to view his plumbing license to have fun playing as Mario, and we don’t need to know all about Agent 47 to have fun walking in his shoes.
A Game for All Play Styles
I have a confession to make: I’m the person that treats games like Metal Gear Solid as if they are action movies.
If the game calls for stealth, I find a way to make things loud and weird. And such games usually punish the player for not going the route of the quiet assassin.
As I mentioned before, though, Hitman 2 rewards all play styles. Do you want to quietly infiltrate a Colombian gang and take someone out when he is alone? Or would you rather blow everyone up with some well-placed mines?
Both solutions are equally valid in this game and each rewards with plenty of XP. And this provides further encouragement (if you need it) to try to complete every mission in a new way.
Hitman 2 is primarily a solo game. However, it incorporates a few multiplayer features to keep things interesting.
There is a Ghost mode that is basically a competitive version of the single-player game. You and another assassin each play the same level (but in different instances) and see who can take out the target first.
There is also a Sniper Assassin game in which you and another person take out your targets from a long-range distance. This mode will feel super familiar to anyone who played Hitman: Sniper Challenge back in 2012.
Neither multiplayer mode is super-compelling. However, it’s cool that you have the option of enjoying this game with your friends in different ways.
How are the graphics in Hitman 2? Mostly good.
The reason I say “mostly” is the cutscenes. While the gameplay graphics look very solid (Agent 47 has never looked better), the cutscenes look like the game’s budget was suddenly yanked away.
That’s because they are little more than storyboards with voiceovers — just still images to give you the bare minimum info on plots and character backgrounds.
To put it mildly, it’s very jarring to go from smooth animated graphics to still frames. But this wasn’t enough to detract from the gameplay experience.
Is Hitman 2 worth buying? Definitely!
Sure, there are some warts in the form of those static cutscenes and the cardboard plot.
But the truth is that nobody does “sandbox assassin” like the Hitman series, and this game is the best entry in the franchise so far. For series beginners or returning veterans, Hitman 2 is a hell of a time.