Hitman 2 Offers Open-Ended, Hilariously Fun Stealth Action

Hitman 2 is a game of possibilities and choice.

Should you poison your intended target’s bottle of wine? Should you dress up and pretend to be Army General and push him off a balcony? Do you rig a prototype battle robot to waste him during a live demo of said battle robot? Or do you just whack him in the head with a lead pipe?

The sequel of the highly successful 2015 release is back, and asking these important questions. And as with the original game, trying to answer them in a series of hilariously murderous ways is as fun as ever.

A Stealthy Sequel

Returning is Agent 47, a master assassin who has found himself again involved in a globe-spanning criminal conspiracy. In order to get to the truth, 47 will have to do what he does best: murdering bad dudes through some over-the-top and often needlessly complicated means while wearing the clothes of someone he knocked out in a public restroom.  

Each of Hitman 2’s six new locations is massive, with dozens of characters and events running like clockwork in a world simulator that you manipulate in order to get close to your target. From a race track in Miami to the slums of Mumbai, you can either slip into each scene like a thief in the night, a bull in a china shop or go for one of the many scripted Mission Stories that are offered for each hit.

Each style is encouraged, since replayability is what makes Hitman 2 so great. The more items you earn unlocks new avenues of approach. Things like starting with a lockpick provide you with a stealthy way into places you may have not been able to get to in your previous playthrough.

From a race track in Miami to the slums of Mumbai, you can either slip into each scene like a thief in the night or a bull in a china shop.

Mission Stories work as scripted opportunities that reveal themselves as you venture around the world. Think of them as a quest chain you’d see in a role-playing game. You’ll perform a series of tasks that’ll someone get you close enough to kill your target, in often hilarious or bombastic ways. What I love about Mission Stories is that it gives you direction if you’re feeling paralyzed by choices and options and have no clue where to start.

One Mission Story has as you track down and eliminate the 3 leaders of a criminal cartel who are developing, and I kid you not, Super Cocaine. Each of your assassination targets is framed as comic-book-level evildoers in order to eliminate any guilt one might have in killing them.  

Mission Stories give you direction if you’re feeling paralyzed by choices and options and have no clue where to start.

One opportunity involved posing as a celebrity tattoo artist who’s tasked to work on the tasteful neck tattoo of one of the cartel bosses. As you can guess, Agent 47 not only touches up his ink, he also uses the 1-on-1 session to murder the gangster. If you prefer your murders to look like accidents, there’s a bit where you can lure the target and crush him with a statue of himself at the town square.

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Endless Opportunities

Hitman 2 encourages a level of improvisation and creativity that really embraces its open-world sandbox nature. Cackle like the puppet master that you are when your targets follow your plan step-by-step. Or if you simply don’t have the patience, walk to them and dispose of them with whatever household item you may find handy.

Personally, chucking soda cans with a deadly aim or leaving an explosive rubber ducky has been my favorite, reliable ways of getting the job done. Hitman 2 is almost begging you to mess with its carefully scripted worlds to ensure an amount of enjoyable mayhem that is almost cartoonish.

Just be sure to quicksave often when you can, in case you break the game too much. I’ve had Mission Stories fail because a body was discovered from earlier in the stage or I accidentally nudge the wrong person and blew my cover. It doesn’t happen as often as it did in Hitman (2016) but still happens when you’re trying to bust the game at it seems and every turn.

Hitman 2 mostly refines and slightly improves the gameplay mechanics of its predecessor. The controls and interface still feel a bit cumbersome. Things only get worse when you get caught and dragged into prolonged gun battles. Agent 47 doesn’t last long in a firefight. You can go guns blazing if you so choose -- it’s just not the best option and works against how you should play the game.

Hitman 2 is almost begging you to mess with its carefully scripted worlds to ensure an amount of enjoyable mayhem that is almost cartoonish.

The fact that now guards can see your reflection mirrors is huge since a big way to deal with them in previous was always to lure them into a bathroom and knock them out. Since they can now see you coming, you’ll have to find more creative ways to take them out. I found that most melee weapons like a brick or a baseball have a silent attack option do job nice and quick.

A Wealth of Ways to Kill

The amount of content to play in Hitman 2 is staggering. You can complete the campaign in 10 hours or so if you’re powering through, but that’s just scratching the surface. Whenever you finish a level, you’ll get a score and level-up that’ll earn new weapons, disguises and starting points for each level.

I recommend going back to complete mission stories to witness some spectacular takedowns of some really bad people. Wish you had a sniper rifle? You can have one smuggled in for you the next time you play. You are really only limited by your own devilish imagination.  

The controls and interface still feel a bit cumbersome.

If you’re up for more a challenge, then Contracts is a great place to start. This mode is a library of user-created challenges. You too, can, in fact, create your own contracts. Simply, choose a target and how you want to player to take out. Here, you’ll have near limitless contracts if that’s your thing.

On the multiplayer front, Ghost Mode is an incredible addition that’s both stressful and thrilling. Basically, it’s a one-on-one contest in which both players race to assassinate 5 randomly selected targets through the level. Both players are alone in their own game worlds but you can see other’s Ghost to see their progress. Whenever one player gets a kill, the other has 20 seconds to make up ground or lose. This forces players to break their cover and rush towards their target which could end in chaos.

Bottom Line

Hitman 2 is a deep, enjoyable stealth sandbox with hours upon hours of content that will keep you coming back for more. For Hitman fans, it’s more of the same surreal fun you’ve had before, which isn’t a bad thing.  

Credit: WB Games

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