IO Interactive/Warner Bros Interactive Entertainment
Back in 2016, when IO Interactive brought the Hitman series back into the spotlight with their episodic releases, simply titled “Hitman,” many wondered if it could still garner attention. IO proved that not only did the murder-for-hire simulator still have quite a bit of life left in it (pun intended) but that they were still very capable of making some of the best stealth-based games in the industry.
Their newest endeavor, Hitman 2, ditches the episodic approach and gives us the entire experience upfront. You still have to take on your assignments sequentially, but gamers are no longer required to sit it out in-between chapters. New weapons and gadgets can also be unlocked as you progress throughout the game, and the number of these murder toys at your disposal have been augmented considerably.
Hitman 2 feels like much tighter and refined this time around. As the old saying goes: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” and that certainly applies here. The sequel takes everything that worked in the first game and pushes it out even further, while not reinventing the wheel as far as the series’ fundamental mechanics are concerned.
What struck me initially about this latest Hitman game is how gorgeous its presentation is. Everything, from the slick menus and minimalist UI, to the swanky tunes that play in the background—it’s all first class. The intros are also beautifully rendered and really get you in the mood for some virtual murder mayhem.
This time around, you get to travel to six exotic locales which are all stunning in their own ways, to say the least. But what’s really outstanding about each of these new levels is that they are seriously jam-packed with replayability. That’s because not only are they larger than the first game’s maps, but they’re also more intricately-designed, with more nooks and crannies to explore as well as multitudinous and varied avenues to reach your objectives through.
For instance, I’ve played all of the maps so far but never get tired of replaying them. Each time that I did, I only wound up checking off ten…maybe fifteen percent of the total outcomes per map. Hitman 2 begs you to take your time with each mission and really explore the locales in detail in order to not only take in their beauty, but also patiently devise your plots and schemes.
All of the levels have Mission Stories, which are basically the most cinematic and over-the-top ways that you can potentially take out one of your many designated targets. However, you are allowed a great amount of flexibility as you can either play the game with it gently guiding you from objective to objective, or you can strike out on your own and figure things out for yourself. This handy guidance mechanic isn’t necessary and you can switch it off and on at any time depending on whatever suits your needs.
One slight drawback that I noticed is that the excellent, animated cutscenes from the first game are gone. In their place are slightly moving stills that detail what is happening throughout the game, in-between missions and behind the scenes. I’m pretty sure that this was probably due to budgetary restraints since IO recently became an independent gaming studio, so in that regard it’s quite understandable and doesn’t really detract much from the overall experience.
As far as performance goes, my gaming laptop handled Hitman 2 pretty well with my GTX 970 Gaming 4G. I topped out around 50-60 FPS and only experienced a tiny bit of lag here and there. The game is not only great to look at but has been well optimized on top of that, and should run fine on mid-range rigs on up.
With its beautifully-rendered, exotic locales, excellent stealth and assassination mechanics, refined gameplay, and overall fun factor, I’d say that Hitman 2 is the greatest iteration of the titular character we’ve seen yet, and is only set to get better with IO’s renowned post-release support.
Hitman 2 features pretty great graphics that make its stealth-based gameplay truly shine. However, you want to have a pretty beefy gaming PC or gaming laptop in order to play it at a decent framerate. So, you may just want to invest in a decent gaming rig:
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