When IO Interactive was let go from Square Enix, people worried about the future of the Hitman franchise. But then IO Interactive announced HITMAN 2, the sequel to the episodic HITMAN, and people were cautiously optimistic.
In case you’re unfamiliar with the franchise, it’s a third person game that sees you dressing up as other people in order to get close to a target so that you can murder them. I mean, you can just not dress up as other people, but then the game gets more difficult, and that is not my jam.
Although it looks just like the previous game, HITMAN 2 comes with several improvements over it - in addition to not being episodic of course. If you trigger certain events, say someone spots a person you knocked out, you’ll be alerted with a picture-in-picture window in the corner of the screen. There is now a minimap. And, the most useful, you can now hide in crowds & bushes à la Assassin’s Creed. There are a few other things, but it’s those I found most useful.
What’s more, if you own HITMAN, then you can play those levels using these improvements and the new engine, directly from the HITMAN 2 main menu. However, if you’re on PS4 - as I reviewed this on - then you will need HITMAN installed initially, so that the game recognises that you do own it. If you don’t own HITMAN, then you’re given every incentive to do so, as the game really wants you to get the HITMAN Legacy Pack at the very least.
This heavy focus on getting you to buy the first game is quite off-putting, to be honest. To resume your campaign, you have to scroll past the original levels, which if you don’t own HITMAN it tells you “Downloadable content not installed”. Want to see how many challenges you’ve completed? Well obviously you want to see which challenges you’ve completed in a game you don’t own, first!
If you want the entire HITMAN 2 experience, it’s going to cost you at least £90.98. That’s for the Gold Edition of the game (which comes with the Expansion Pass), and the Legacy Pack. The fact that the base game is £44.99 just seems steep to me since it’s more than the HITMAN GOTY Edition, and the same price as fellow Warner Bros.-published title Middle-earth Shadow of War. People have been complaining that HITMAN 2 has been selling poorly - well maybe think about the fact you’ve priced it the same as games that seem to have cost much more to produce. It even reuses the entire tutorial from HITMAN - though that’s only accessible after the prologue mission?
Other than that and quite long loading times (on PS4, at least), I have no complaints about the game. The six locations are huge, packed with people, and full of secrets. The Mission Stories are fun to follow, as a bonus, and give you extra experience points over just finding and murdering the targets.
As well as the main campaign, HITMAN 2 introduces the multiplayer Ghost Mode. This sees you sharing an instance with another player, and being given the same target. The player who kills their version of the target first in the right way, wins. Of course, I couldn’t play this mode as you need PlayStation Plus to even enter Ghost Mode menu, and I don’t have that.
Another new thing is actually taken from the mobile game Hitman: Sniper. At launch there’s just a single map and mission, The Last Yardbird, but it sees you having to kill three targets and their bodyguards with a sniper rifle from across a gorge. Of course, as with the main campaign levels, there are tons of challenges to complete, such as hiding all of the bodies (never an easy task with just a round from a sniper rifle), or shooting the newly weds during their first dance. It’s a very different experience to the campaign, and a welcome change. There are going to be more levels, though IO Interactive hasn’t said how many.
For the most replayability, the final mode is Contracts - a series staple by this point. These are player-made missions, which see you having to kill one or more targets, to a set of criteria. Of course, you can create your own in any level (including HITMAN if you own it) by choosing a level, then selecting up to five targets from random people - and killing them.
There are a couple of really unexpected options hidden away in the meu, especially since this was the console version. You can lock and unlock the framerate (it’s unlocked by default), which I’ve not come across before on a console game. Then there’s the subtitles - you can change their sizes. This doesn’t affect any of the other text (some of which is admittedly too small), but is a welcome option.
So, if you’re a fan of HITMAN and want more of the same (and can afford it), I can highly recommend HITMAN 2. It looks great and there’s tons of fun murder to commit, with more to come as IO Interactive builds on it. I do wish it didn’t have such a high price to get the full game, but at least there aren’t any microtransactions.
HITMAN 2 (Reviewed on PlayStation 4)
This game is great, with minimal or no negatives.
A bit pricey to say it lists half of its own contents as DLC, but if you already own HITMAN and want more of that, then HITMAN 2 is perfect for you.