The fact that we are also receiving another Hitman game seems like a miracle. After the developer IO Interactive was released by the Japanese publisher Square-Enix in 2017, it was not clear who would keep the rights to develop the Hitman games and if they would continue to do so. But with a remarkable demonstration of goodwill and good faith to IO and fans of the franchise, Square-Enix gave IO the Hitman IP to do what they could.
Surprisingly, I found a new publisher in Warner Bros. & Games, and just over a year later, despite the odds, "Hitman 2" is here, and absent some of the unfortunate compromises that made the 2016 Hitman a so irregular game travel.
"Hitman 2" is labeled as a sequel, but more than any other franchise game, it continues explicitly the story that ended with a cliffhanger in "Hitman 2016." The bald killer Agent 47 is still sniffing the identity of a secret society that seeks to destabilize the world for its own financial benefit while learning more secrets than those to whom it has engaged in the process. However, unlike "Hitman 2016", "Hitman 2" is a complete package from the start.
The opening of "Hitman 2" practically hits with technical improvements in the last game. The lighting improvements and the details of the characters, as well as the world around 47 is impossible to lose, especially playing in 4K on Xbox One X (although this has an outlet: at various points with the pre-release of the game, the framerate in the higher resolution mode was often immersed in unacceptable levels, forcing to switch to framed priority mode, which provided a pleasantly smoother experience).
It looks nice, but the whole "Hitman 2" package feels better assembled from top to bottom. The slow menus and ridiculous loading times of "Hitman 2016" are generally gone, and the insects that afflict it do not seem to be present here. "Hitman 2" also perfects improvements to the already considerable "Hitman 2016" series in controls and global interaction. More than ever, what a human being in a real world is regarded as a potential solution to the problems facing him is generally feasible in the "Hitman 2" world.
Players do not have to carry coins with them in the missions: if you want to distract an enemy, there is always an object around which to collect and launch to attract attention. Even the physical crossing seems to have less friction and / or delay than its immediate predecessor, making it easier to move, aim and shoot. More clearly, it seems easier to play than the series I've ever had.
There are other discrete additions. IO Interactive has reported the ability to bring a folder into layers, assuming you select it in your loadouts, allowing 47 to introduce larger instruments such as a sniper rifle or another long rifle, if firearms were your instrument preferred. The novelty of the series is, oddly enough, something that seems raised directly from the recent games of Assassin's Creed – the ability to hide in tall grass and bushes when it is crouching and automatically hiding in sight simply by walking towards a crowd of people .
This is a valuable addition in large part because there are many people in the levels of "Hitman 2" in general. There seems to be more people than any previous area in a Hitman game – including Mardi Gras' stage in Blood Money – and in proportion, the spaces are huge to accommodate all those bodies. Without talking with the actual square footage, each level looks bigger than anything comparable in "Hitman 2016."
The enormity of "Hitman 2" goes beyond the rough and uncomplicated imprints of the level footprints. These new spaces are more complex and fuller than they have ever been, even compared to "Hitman 2016." The missions have different goals, which are not in themselves new, but the interconnection of their patterns and behaviors give a greater sense of relationship and credibility to them, which is particularly engaging. The games of Hitman have always given their goals things to do – largely in order to provide other ways to define the Rube-Goldberg-of-Death ways to kill them – but "Hitman 2" really increases the potential scenarios in which your goals could involve yourself.
It seems as if something inside the design team of Io tripped, or maybe just snapped into place. After years of subtlety, "Hitman 2" is perhaps the first time that the creators of "Io Interactive" have shown themselves convinced to make sure that everyone who plays it knows that there is much more in every level than it is immediately evident.
The heavy lifting here is done with a new systematic addition to "Hitman 2" that IO is calling Mission Stories. The games of Hitman have always been full of strange and interesting narrative moments, but they were often things that you really had to look for. "Hitman 2" adds many more than ever before, and ties these various narrative tails to the various strategies you can use to eliminate your goals beyond the classics like a fiber garrote or a silenced shot in the head.
Now when you see some strange bullshit – and the good God is a wonderful amount of strange things to find – the more often he will connect to the mission. And more than ever, "Hitman 2" will actively tell you that these narrative fragments can lead to missionary solutions.
Initially this could be baffling for some longtime fans. The default status of "Hitman 2" is to guide players through quest queues with tokens and hints, practically pronouncing some of his killings and more complicated traps. This continues a trend of accessibility that the Hitman games have pursued since 2012 "Hitman Absolution", which added the mechanics of instinct that allows 47 to see enemies and targets through the walls.
You can disable all this and have a decidedly more punitive experience if that's how you want to go. The default Mission Stories settings may seem like a case of information overload. The composition of the information provided allows players to find the mission's suggestions on their own.
Even without all the bits of the breadcrumb track of the user interface and the hints, Mission Stories suggests players to be orders of magnitude more curious than ever before in a Hitman game. There's always been a hint of voyeurism in Hitman games, but there are times in "Hitman 2" where the player can feel, well, a kind of stalker. The Mission Stories add a huge amount of articulated replayability and incentive discovery to "Hitman 2", even more than the challenges introduced in "Hitman 2016", making the right connections and seeing things as completed has been highly rewarding.
Mission Stories are often linked to specific killings which in turn block other Mission Stories, which means that you will never be able to get everything at once; if, for example, you were to use an industrial cement mixer to blow a target into a well in a construction site, they would not be able to maneuver them into a compromising romantic position with another target to kill two birds with one stone – and if one kill together, they would not be able to feed one of them to their evil exotic puppy. And in case it is not clear that I want you to answer these missions to find more things and try more solutions, after completing the mission, after overcoming all the missed or completed challenges, the game actually requires you to repeat them for unveil more Mission Stories.
This comes to one of the most obvious compromises in "Hitman 2". While "Hitman 2016" was sent in an episodic manner, it eventually contained eight missions: two introductory / training scenarios and six correct levels. "Hitman 2", on the other hand, presents an introductory level that, although splendid, is very small and five correct positions. It is not fair to say that it is light on content – the levels of "Hitman 2" are gigantic and are full of things to see in a way that is significantly more incentivized than ever before. These are some of the best levels the series has ever seen, integrating the smarter pieces of so many of Hitman's biggest hits, and some of the best of his best moments. They are the most beautiful and completely realized spaces of any Hitman game. There are not many.
This minimum number of missions can share a root cause with the other bizarre element of "Hitman 2": movies. The cutscenes in "Hitman 2016" were dramatic, well played and well animated. In "Hitman 2", these movies are largely static, with motionless figures moving on slightly moved backgrounds and voiceover accompanied by no lip sync. They are stylistically coherent, but it is a profound and profound change for a game that clearly wants to be treated as the second season of the first game, which can not help but be stunned.
There are of course some new cooperation options that at the time of the press were available to test, including phantom mode, a semi-passive competitive assassination exercise that is promising, at the very least. There is also the Sniper Assassin cooperative mode, which, although a fun diversion, is not quite what most Hitman plays. Most of the post-release content of "Hitman 2" – until the promises expands, ie – will be the limited time elusive targets. These were often creative and fun additions to "Hitman 2016", but we'll have to see how things shake when the first hits "Hitman 2" in a couple of weeks.
If the "Hitman 2" package was all that there was, it would be easy to recommend, even with those qualifications, but there is more going on here. In a particularly fan-friendly move, and a business expert, IO returned to "Hitman 2016" and brought the entire game to "Hitman 2", including its bonus missions and expansion campaign, as a purchase in-game.
These missions received visual updates based on "Hitman 2" engine improvements, as well as new mechanics such as the case. And perhaps the most drastic addition to these missions, all this return content has been completely re-adapted with the Mission Story system. Even for players who have completed the 2016 version, now there is a reason to go back and try again. And in the most user-friendly move from a gambling studio in 2018, if you own "Hitman 2016" and its DLC, all this remastered virtually updated content is completely free and completely integrated into "Hitman 2".
It's a cliché to say that one game or another is a letter of love for … anything. But after a period in which the future of the Hitman series seemed uncertain, where its most recent predecessor felt compromised and broken due to the terrible financial realities and constraints of the modern gaming industry, "Hitman 2" is difficult to read as anything other than a fierce love letter to the fans of the series. It's not a perfect relationship – no one will ever be. But at its center, "Hitman 2" manages to be the most accomplished articulation of all the things the series has done well.