Thursday, March 12, 2015

1PanelReview Hitman 2

Welcome back, 47. 

Although we know you've gone into retirement, your elite skills are required once again. The question is -- are you prepared?
Time to dig out the past, M. 47! Reviews of the Hitman series:

What it is: Hitman 2: Silent Assassin also known as simply Hitman 2

Which is: A Third Person Shooter/Action/Stealth game
Created by: IO Interactive/Eidos
Year: 2002
Available on: PC, Xbox, PS2, Gamecube, PS3 & Xbox 360 (HD version)

Released on September 2002 on PC and by 2003 ported on most systems available at the time, Hitman 2: Silent Assassin is the direct sequel to the 2000 PC exclusive and cult favorite Hitman: Codename 47. Developed by Danish developer IO Interactive, and once again distributed by Eidos Interactive. Hitman 2 sees the return of the titular gun-for-hire Agent 47 back after finding out about his past and escaping from the cloning facility in the previous game. At the time the game proved a great jumping point if you missed the first episode and discovered the series when it jumped to consoles. But being familiar with the previous title will help understand a lot of discrete allusions and references. (In fact the game opens with pretty much a fun throwback to the docks levels from Hitman 1.) At its heart Silent Assassin is a much more ambitious game, the game, I'm sure, they wanted to originally develop but couldn't at the time. Counting up to 21 missions more or less, set all over the world, and revolving each around pretty unique kills and set pieces (from Russia to Japan, and Italy and many more exotic locations!).

The story sees our Hitman forced back to go back to his old habits after having retired from a life as an assassin. He was living in a church, in Sicily. But one day people were able to track him down and dragged his friend Father Vittorio into this world he left behind. They left a ransom and forced 47 to come out from hiding. The first thing to do was to get his job at the Agency back and contact his handler, Diana Burnwood. It's time to settle the score for good and let people know nobody can mess with 47...

What's Good about it: The game picks up immediately where the first episode left. But the overall tale is pretty much another self-contained episode, which is great.
Agent 47 is still the ultimate killer and a bsdass. He oozes so much persona from the little details you get to witness during cutscenes to his in-game animations, the way he moves in stealthy for the kill. A lot of attention was put into our main character.
This second Hitman game brought 47 back in what is often considered a vast improvement and complete gameplay overall of the original game. It takes the same basic elements and simply broadened up everything. The levels don't feel so restrained, the areas are much bigger and non-linear, there's often several possible paths for most outcomes.
Each level features a set if objectives to complete, and they all always require one (or more) set assassinations as the main mission. The game really rewards you for trying to be as much creative as possible. You can set all kinds of traps, poison drinks, rely on chloroform, use silent weapons or even play around with the scenery at times. Or simply go nuts guns ablazing!
They ditched the micro-stages from the previous Hitman 1 and its more linear nature for huge bigger open areas.

The AI was also much more sophisticated this time. They get more suspicious pretty quick, so you have to always be careful as to not draw attention. While the original game already relied on most elements of Hitman 2, you could still run around and fool guards at the same time. This time the game requires you to slow down and put some thought and careful plan your routes. Be sure to hide corpses and avoid confrontation as much as possible if you don't want to raise any alarm.
The game also added the ability to use in-game saves to explore and try different approaches, where the first game forced you to reload everything from scratch whenever you died.
One of my favorite situations is perhaps one of the most underrated scenes people don't seem to mention much usually. When you come across another assassin clone, his predecessor Agent 17. It doesn't come into play in the story, but it's efficient enough to remind us that there might remaind some of 47 "brothers" out there (even though the backstory wouldn't actually be revisiteded until much later, in the last recent installment of the series).
The first game was really hardcore at times. IO tried to better balance things out this time, making it a bit more accessible and friendlier gamers.
At the end of the day, the fact that you can still rush most levels just goes to show how more flexible Hitman 2 is. Just enough to allow players to play the game in the style they want, either going for perfect "Silent Assassin" ranking or blow up stuff around as a "Mass Murderer" (which is nice for those really difficult levels you can't find a cleaner solution some times, the game doesn't punish you that way and instead allow the player to solve the situation so they can get to the next level that way). Which brings me to this other great addition, a scoring system!
Finally, I have to give major credits to series composer Jesper Kyd, he truly outdid himself this time! Where Codename 47 used an entirely electronic musical score, Silent Assassin features an outstanding performance by the Budapest Symphony Orchestra and the Hungarian Radio Choir. It's simply gorgeous and contributes a lot to the game's phenomenal atmosphere!

What's Bad about it: To be honest, this sequel doesn't get a lot wrong. They merely built upon the foundations layed by the previous installment. They simply ditched everything people didn't seem to like and only refined gameplay. They crafted what became a standard for Hitman's gameplay, the experience unique to this series.
But since this game is now over a decade old, you can say that the controls can be a bit stiff at times, but that comes with the age.
The AI is also a bit too clever sometimes, they can actually get pretty frustrating on a couple levels (but did you expect 47 to completely invisible in Japan?).
Speaking of - the original game had a pretty annoying jungle level. This one is no different and also contains its necessary flawed level, the mountain stage is just about equally frustrating and perhaps the only real low-point of this entire game.

Overall: Hitman 2: Silent Assassin is such fantastic classic! 

The controls might not be as easy to get a hand on at first and require some familiarity. Not everything is as automated or flexible as most games nowadays. But I find them perfectly fine. They were heavily taking cues from the FPS genre. Plus the game contains more than its fair share of classic Hitman missions to be a memorable experience.

Hitman 2 was received a well deserved good reception at the time. It quickly surpassed the original and is still considered the most successful entry in the series. This is how you get a sequel done right.

The game comes Highly Recommended for both fans of the first episode or the series and newcomers alike. This us easily one of the best episode in the entire series to this day.

Of course, what really helped sell the game at the time was the console ports, handled by IO Interactive in-house. In fact, like most I discovered the Hitman series through the Xbox version of this second game way back when. The game would be released on Xbox, PS2 and Gamecube, only the PS2 has some noticeable aliasing issues. Nothing was left out or cut, and it's the same experience from one system to another. Fun fact, this is the only episode to this day to have been released on Nintendo console!

The game was also made available on GOG and along the next two sequel, it was re-released through a remastered version as part of the Hitman HD Trilogy available on Xbox 360 and PS3


No comments:

Post a Comment