Hitman 2 is more of the same. Presented as a direct sequel, it doesn't tamper too much with the current formula. IO Interactive has made subtle but worthy tweaks to gameplay, making the core stealth mechanics better than ever. Unlike its predecessor, IO Interactive have scraped the episodic releases, and instead, features six new locals from the get-go. It's something fans of the 2016 debut will be pleased with, and it feels a more refined, complete package overall. Even those who own the previous game can replay it's levels directly from Hitman 2's main hub. It's a neat touch, and an effective way to indicate this is more of the same.
Story-wise, Hitman 2 follows on from the 2016 game. Agent 47's new mission is to dismantle the elusive shadow client, along with his militia. This sees the bald-headed assassin travel across the globe, hunting down those within the rogue organisation. It does all sound rather smart with fancy wording, but in the end, the story is rather lacking. It's not only a confusing follow-up to the past game but one that's not very interesting. Story cut-scenes that connect the levels are presented with still imagery and voice-overs. It's an unusual approach, and I found it rather disengaging. Still, it does the job, and the voice acting is solid enough. But it's narrative isn't something Hitman 2 will be renowned for. It's clear that it's simply there to fill in the blanks, making some sense to 47's globe-trotting ventures.
Hitman 2 (Reviewed on Xbox One X)
Developer: IO Interactive
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Released: November 13, 2018
Available on PS4, Xbox One, PC
Having said that, Hitman 2 doesn't really need a story, as you tend to experience your own little plots within the environments. Most of the dialogue is experienced through interactions. Opportunities from the previous game have returned, now called mission stories. These are instances that can help you get closer to your targets; whether it's eavesdropping on vital conversations, stealing a key card to access restricted areas, or subduing someone and wearing their clothes for a disguise. Your encouraged to play discreetly, slowly making your way to your targets undetected. It becomes a sort of puzzle, as you learn their patterns, figuring out the best opportunity to strike. It can be very time consuming, and those with little patience might not enjoy Hitman 2 as it's intended. However, it's always a satisfying moment when your perfectly timed assassinations are executed.
The six available environments are nicely varied, ranging from the busy streets of Mumbai, the tropical rain-forests of Santa Fortuna, to the sun-soaked city of Miami. One of my personal favourite locals takes place in India, where it's new blending mechanics really comes to play. Unlike before, 47 can now blend into crowds and foliage to remain out of plain sight. It's a seamless interaction that lets you easily pop in and out of cover as you see fit. It's a subtle tweak, but a useful and welcoming addition to gameplay. My favourite, however, is the new picture-in-picture mode. This lets you see your targets whereabouts in real time through a small screen. It also shows the position of hidden bodies when they are spotted. It's a fitting inclusion to stealth, and one that can alter your strategic approach.