Review: Hitman 2
Hitman 2 is already the seventh game in the series. In doing so, it joins the trend to make subsequent numbering as confusing as possible. That said, Hitman 2 is a great sequel to the 2016 game.
Unlike many other franchises that emerged around the turn of the century, every Hitman game manages to score well. This may have to do with the fact that the formula that was set in the first game is never deviated from. Unlike other franchises, Hitman has a relatively simple goal. You are given some tools and thrown into a small open world. With these tools you have to kill your target. The great thing about the Hitman games is that you have dozens of options to do that. Dress up as the cook and poison his (or her) food. Infiltrate his office and plant a bomb. Sabotage something in the area and get the target, or someone else, to trigger this sabotage. The possibilities are endless. The great thing about this is that you can and want to play each level over and over again.
The Hitman game that came out in 2016 was originally released in episodes. An episode came out every month, with a little break in the summer. Later, a complete version was also available in the store. If you have completed the first Hitman, in whatever form, you will also receive these levels in Hitman 2. If you do not have the first game, you can purchase it as an expansion for €20. You will then receive all locations and DLC of the game from 2016. According to IO Interactive, these are 'remastered and enhanced'. I have to say that I couldn't see that much difference compared to the Definitive Edition. However, reflections and light effects looked a bit better. Once you've 'loaded' the first game into the second, you can play the entire story as one from start to finish.
That last point is probably also characteristic of the game. It doesn't feel like a full-fledged sequel, but more like season 2. This isn't bad at all, and it's still worth the price. However, the '2' behind the title gives the feeling that there is a lot of new stuff to expect. So there is not much innovation, but the rough edges have been updated. As the saying goes, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."
To put it very bluntly, the story in Hitman 2 is like the story in a porn movie. It's nice that it's there, but it's not why we play it. That said, the story out there is well told. Due to the limited number of locations, there is little room to tell a story. You get an introduction to why you should do something. You will then be told what to do.
That's not to say the story is bad. It ties in nicely with the other parts and is certainly captivating. Plot points are a bit difficult to tie together here and there. Targets also often feel fairly distanced from the story. But plus points for the James Bond / Mission Impossible-like feel and developments in the dynamics between Agent 47 and Diana Burnwood. If you play the two games back-to-back, it also feels nice as one. Especially if you have loaded the first game in this part.
Besides all the story missions you have access to several other modes. In contracts you can create your own scenarios within the existing areas. You can also download creations from other players. Elusive Target gives you a new target to kill every so often. The first of these will be performed by none other than Sean Bean. There are also the Sniper Assassin and Ghost modes. The second serves as multiplayer, where you play against someone else to kill as many targets as possible in the same game world.
As always, this part is all about stealth. You can run in somewhere and shoot your target, but then you will have a lot of trouble walking away alive again. Most stealth games involve entering a base, finding intel, or simply getting through an area. In Hitman it is mainly about efficiency. You are not supposed to kill one NPC after another and throw a chest. This way you can finish a level, but it is not very satisfying. Agent 47 is a professional. Moreover, it also gives minus points on your level score.
Getting to know the area and recognizing the patterns of both your target and other people in the game world is a must. Each time you clear an area, you can choose different starting locations and gadgets or weapons. You also get the option to play different mission stories . As you play through an area, you can collect intel. You can do this by searching for information or eavesdropping on conversations. With this intel you gain insight into these mission stories. These give variation in how you can eliminate your target, but you end up with less freedom if you want to complete them. Depending on the difficulty, you'll get hints, or even objectives, to complete these mission stories.
You also get a large amount of challenges that you can complete per area. Some are generic, such as "kill your target by drowning him" or "put on a chef's outfit". Others are more specific and point you to certain options that are unique to this game world. Besides being fun goals to achieve, it also serves as a hint system.
At times, Hitman 2 feels a bit like a launch game of the current generation. Faces are static, physics often reacts weirdly and animations can be a bit stiff. On the other hand, the environments are beautiful and special effects are wonderful. Light, shadows and environmental effects look beautiful. Water, glass and mirrors display very believable reflections, which even NPCs are aware of. This also adds extra gameplay. These reflections are displayed in a lower resolution. On the Xbox One X, PlayStation 4 Pro, this is not so noticeable. On the standard version of the consoles, these can therefore appear somewhat pixelated. Click image for larger version
Looking at the differences between the four consoles, Xbox One X is again the clear winner. The standard Xbox One, on the other hand, is firmly at the bottom. Each console runs at a different resolution. Xbox One at 900, PS4 at 1080, PS4 Pro at 1440, and Xbox One X at full 4K. For each console, there is the option to lock the frame rate at 30 fps. Higher frame rate looks smoother, but the dips are noticeable. Locking at 30 fps makes this more stable. On Xbox One X, you can also choose between more detail or a higher frame rate.
Sound is generally good. Conversations and sound effects are sharp and adapt well to environmental conditions. The surround placement is also good. However, I would have liked sounds from NPCs, such as footsteps, to be more audible. Especially in surround this would have been a welcome addition, so that you are more aware of what is happening behind you
Hitman 2 invites you to play again and again. Finding different ways to take out your target is just a lot of fun. If you've gotten to know everything in the area to some extent and then you spend a lot of time doing that perfect execution of a level in one go, it gives a lot of satisfaction. The mission stories also give a little more focus as opposed to constantly looking for what you can possibly do. Presentation could have had a little more attention, but the special effects make up for it a lot. Of course, gameplay is always more important, and it's just solid.
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