Saturday, December 8, 2018

Hitman 2 (2018) review


    Red Dead Redemption 2, Fallout 76, Assassin's Creed: Odyssey, and more. Really, it's kind of a terrible time to release your new video game if you're not a AAA blockbuster. Hitman (2016) was a successful but not entirely controversy-free game that revived interest in the franchise after the tepid response to the grindhouse cinema-inspired Hitman: Absolution.

    There's a lot of stuff which was going on behind-the-scenes at Square Enix and IO Entertainment that prevented what was originally going to be an ongoing game with multiple seasons from coming to pass. Thankfully, what could have been an aborted arc of storytelling was changed into a full-fledged sequel with Hitman 2.

Miami is probably my favorite level from the game.
    The premise of the game, continued from the original game (and not--see below), is that Agent 47 is a genetically-engineered assassin that is chasing after a mysterious killer known as the Shadow Client. Richard Grey, as he's known to his subordinates, is master of a massive alliance of terrorists and pirates that are working to bring down the mysterious Providence. Providence is the Illuminati, literally, with all the holographic businessmen and super-science this implies.

    Agent 47 has multiple targets to pursue on his way to eliminating the Shadow Client with it not really being a spoiler that he's not going to remain loyal to the Illuminati. The Shadow Client is depicted as the lesser of two evils and if you're looking for a game where you work for the Illuminati then you'll have to play the original Deus Ex. In fact, let's be honest, the plot is SUSPICIOUSLY SIMILAR to Deus Ex complete with the fact you join a militia of bad guys you initially oppose. It's just in the present versus the near-future.

    If you have played Hitman (2016) then you pretty much know how this game works. The Opportunities system, which more or less hand-held you to all the methods of killing people in the game, has been dialed back so it's now completely optional. There's also a somewhat heavier experience cost before you get things like the sniper rifle and lethal poison.

There's a couple of homage levels like Columbia.
    The games are built around each level being a huge sandbox which Agent 47 navigates, finds tools within, and eliminates. You can either pursue opportunities using disguises, which never stop being entertaining given 47 looks like a middle-aged Vin Diesel but can impersonate anyone without the Mission Impossible masks. Basically, if you like Hitman games, you'll enjoy this as they're generally a mixture of both humorous as well a serious with a good deal of variety in gameplay.

    A big reason to get this game is that they've included the entirety of the 2016 game as a DLC for experiencing the work. It's also free if you have the original downloaded. This gives quite a few extra missions for people who want an expansive Hitman experience or to experience the entire story firsthand. There's nothing particularly great about the Hitman storyline but it's not bad either as I'm quite fond of Deus Ex-style conspiracy thrillers.

    There's also the Elusive Targets system which provide a dozen or so 'temporary' missions that you are only possessed of a single opportunity to do. I'm inclined to think they'll repeat them after going through them all but that's not a bad thing. Really, I wish they'd make them all available because they are enjoyable as repeatable adventures.

Sean Bean should have been a target in the main game.
    Hitman 2 has a lot of "homages" spread throughout it including one to the Delgado Drug Cartel (first in Chile, now in Columbia) and the suburbs of Blood Money. Honestly, I didn't like these levels as much as the original ones. Miami is probably the best of the new levels as it uses the unique premise of a car race to provide some interesting new opportunities.

    I hope they shake up the formula some more as I love it when the games go in strange directions. NASA space shuttle launch? Luxury cruise liner? Think of the places Batman would go, people! In fact, sadly, this is the one weakness of the game. While it's perfectly serviceable, most of the targets don't stand out the way the ones of the 2016 game did.

    The game mostly earns its price in replayability. With so many games being bug-ridden messes, the chief appeal of Hitman 2 is that it does what it claims and does it well. This is a tried and true formula that doesn't wear out its appeal. It's a game which can be replayed hundreds of times in various forms with a Casual, Professional, and Master difficulty that actually might encourage you to switch modes. There's hundreds of Challenges to complete and most of them are worth doing.

    In conclusion, this is an excellent game and I very much enjoyed it. I will state that it's also not exactly an innovator in terms of Hitman gameplay or design. As such, it's a perfect time-waster for you to enjoy the experience of being a genetically-engineered superspy.

8.5/10

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