Please note: this review is for people who have played the first game.
A lot of games get slack for being “more of the same.” But what if “more of the same” can be a good thing? What if the thing the first game built was so strong, all you want in the second game is more of that? That is where Hitman 2 comes into play. Other than a few gameplay additions, this game essentially offers more of the same experience from the first game. Hell, you can even get the maps from the first game in the second one. But where people would criticize the game for being the same as the first, I praise it for staying true to what makes the reboot series so great. This is Hitman 2, and what if more of the same can be good?
Hitman 2 is a third-person stealth game that has you plopped into an environment with some targets to kill, and it’s off to the races. The game follows two secret organizations, the ICA and Providence, as they work together to hunt down a shadow client. Once you actually find the shadow client however, you soon join him and take on Providence.
I’m not going to lie, I couldn’t care less about the overarching story. I love the first Hitman reboot game, so by the time I hit this one, I know what I wanted out of this game. Because of that, I only half-paid attention to the story, which led me to be lost with the story, and I’m fine with that. The only story I really care about are the ones that play within the game, not the ones outside of it. Still, I think what is offered is serviceable but forgettable, and I would just rather move onto what I believe really matters with this game: the gameplay.
To say that this game hasn’t changed much from the first would be an understatement. I would say that the biggest change made to this game is how you pay for it. Still, some changes have been made that I think are worth talking about.
When it comes to what Hitman 2 adds to the experience in terms of new gameplay mechanics, I can tell you it isn’t a lot. You (and bodies) can now hide in bushes, and you can hide in a crowd, which has proven useful for trying to get around people who would notice you or for hiding bodies. The other thing I can note that has proven to be useful is the briefcase, which will allow you to carry around anything without being noticed. I always wanted to do sniper runs in the first game, but I could never do it because I always found that lugging a high-end sniper rifle with a suppressor around a crowd of people never really went well, so now being able to take it discreetly to vantage points is a big help. Other than that, some other gameplay additions were also made, like NPCs being able to see you in the mirror, but never were things that happened when I played. Still, I think some of the additions made to the gameplay improved the experience overall and I am glad that they are there.
There are, however, gameplay improvements I found that you won’t find on any game description, like how they refined their dark humor. Hitman isn’t a comedy game, but the situations you can be in as well as the ways you dispatch your target can get a good chuckle out of you. I don’t think they meant to do that on purpose with the first game, but I feel that this time around they knew what they were doing. I think they did a good job at refining their dark humor by offering funny kills and even funnier items. Just look up someone throwing a briefcase, and you’ll know what I am talking about. Also, the game doesn’t punish you as much for getting non-target kills. You will still get a low score and ranking, but it won’t hinder you from unlocking new stuff in a level. As a Hitman veteran, these improvements made the gameplay better because it plays to what I like about the series without going overboard and allows 47 to be a little clumsy without punishing him.
Let’s be real though, these improvements and additions aren’t selling the game. What is selling the game is that it is more Hitman. Not only is this game more Hitman, it is all of reboot Hitman. You can have pretty much all of the Hitman content (with a few exceptions) that has released since 2016, all in one place. Other than the fact that this game is essentially more Hitman, I think having all of this content in one place is the highlight of the experience. You can have all of Hitman 1 (including Patient Zero), all of Hitman 2, new elusive targets, the sniper mode that released as a pre-order bonus for Hitman 2, a new competitive multiplayer mode, community contracts, and more: all in one place. The sheer amount of content that can be had under one roof gives out a near endless amount of gameplay, which is what I think is the best part about the game.
In terms of the straight-up levels, Hitman 2 doesn’t stray from Hitman 1 all that much: you start in area with a task of killing a few people, then the game lets you loose as you find ways to kill them. Hitman 2 levels, just like the first game, are filled to the brim with things to do and places to go, giving you plenty of incentive to go back and try again with a different approach. As you start playing a level multiple times, you start to unlock areas to stash weapons and places to start in the level, as well as items that can used on all levels. There isn’t much to say about how the game works compared to the first game, but I will say I am overall enjoying the maps more this time around because of how large and diverse they are. I think the developers got their groove this time around on level design, and because of that I found the locations to be much more interesting. Overall though, I think the standard Hitman 2 levels are about what you expect.
What is new (to the reboot series at least) is a sniper mode. The sniper mode is one level that was offered as a pre-order bonus that you could play immediately, and the mode plays just like a normal Hitman level, but only with sniping. There are some extra things like different ammo types and being able to kill guards, but other than that pretty much just think a Hitman level but sniping at a distance. I still had fun with this one, even when I was constrained to some perch hundreds of meters away from the area.
The biggest new mode, however, would be the competitive multiplayer mode. How this mode works is that you and one other compete to take down the targets the fastest. The thing that makes it interesting is that the competitor is a ghost, and whatever you do in your game won’t affect his (with the exception of a ghost coin). I think the mode could’ve done a better job at explaining all of the rules as well as warning newcomers that this isn’t for beginners, but I have found a lot of fun in the multiplayer mode. Instead of being slow and methodical, you are challenged with working on-the-fly and improvising, which I think is also a great change of pace. The mode is incredibly tough (can’t kill non-targets, can’t be spotted killing the target, etc.), but I think Hitman veterans can find a really fun time out of this one because it offers a more challenging experience. Just tell the announcer lady to shut up once-in-a-while.
While this game has a lot to offer in terms of content, I actually found that there were some downgrades as well. While I think the mission cutscenes were better, I found the overarching story cutscenes to be worse. For some reason, the story cutscenes weren’t fully animated, unlike the first game. It’s kind of a weird choice, but if it is one that had to be made for budget reasons then I can understand that. What I can’t understand, though, is the lack of escalation missions. I remember the first game being filled to the brim with them, but in this game I am lucky to get one on a level, even with the first season. I really enjoy escalation missions, so finding a lack of them here was quite shocking. I’m guessing these downgrades come from the fact that IO Interactive split from Square Enix, but I still think the experience overall is still as fun as the first game.
In conclusion, I think Hitman 2 is exactly what I wanted: more Hitman. Missions, challenges, elusive targets (I can now say I killed Sean Bean), and more are all still here, with some new gameplay additions and subtractions found around the edges. the new modes are small yet fun, but what I think really takes the cake is how much content is being offered under one roof. Hitman 2 is a shining example of how more of the same can be a good thing, and I think both newcomers and veterans alike can find a great time with this game.