- Review Price: £39.99
- Release Date: November 13, 2018
- Developer: IO Interactive
- Release Date: November 13, 2018
- Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC
Security cameras work properly now.
I knew this. The PR sat next to me had told me as I sat down to play, but after several hundred hours with 2016’s Hitman reboot, playing its sequel was like slipping into your favourite dressing gown – warm, cosy and familiar.
That’s how accidents happen. In 2016’s Hitman, a camera was a tickbox — once seen by a camera you would need to make a trip to the security room to erase the tapes or destroy the equipment on the way out. Here, after cracking a guard over the head with a brick of cocaine, security cameras are rather more dangerous, dispatching guards to my location and raising the alarm as I manhandle an unconscious guard off into the shadows.
Hitman 2 is very much an iterative revamp of 2016’s rebooted world of assassination, but the wealth of new systems in addition to the fact that all of the original missions and equipment from the first game will be returning for the second, make this the best the Hitman series has ever been.
It’s not just security cameras, either. The mirrors in the game are now functional, and the NPC’s will react if they see you doing something you shouldn’t in a mirror. However, you have a few powerful new tools to help you make it through now that the AI and their security have been beefed up: when enemies find a body you’re now given a picture-in-picture view of the body, and Agent 47 can blend into a crowd to throw off suspicious guards, which is easy to do in the race-day crowds of the Miami contract, but tougher to achieve in wider, more spacious environments.
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IO’s soft Hitman reboot was always good at giving you everything you needed to succeed, but it wasn’t always the best at communicating all of its systems to you. Hitman 2, by comparison, gives you all the information you need, but it’s shown elegantly – often by taking advantage of a picture-in-picture to show you a found body or pertinent piece of information – and ensures that you’re making informed decisions.
Hitman isn’t a hardcore stealth game, but it’s still best in class for offering a sandbox for you to skulk around in, and the consequences it hits you with if you mess up. Failure is fun in Hitman 2, and while I do harbour some regrets about the several times I had to rock and roll, gunning down a room full of armed guards (and a few civilians too, no witnesses) the game never punishes you unfairly. Guards in an area might spot you on sight after your first big shootout, but those patrolling distant areas will be none the wiser, even if you’re clad in the same disguise.
Primarily, my hands-on focused on Colombia and there are several different areas. Colombia is close in size to Hitman 2016’s Sapienza, however, the feel and vibe is very different and they’re not directly analogous, apart from the fact that they feel similarly dense in terms of both things to do and areas to explore. There’s stark contrast between Miami, an earlier shown level where players are forced to constantly react to a place where things are happening, and this sleepy town in Colombia where nothing much is happening and a large part of Agent 47’s task is to actually stir the pot to try and create a situation you can take advantage of.
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Hitman, as a franchise, is always at its best when it gives you the time and space to peel back the layers of a level like a big old assassination onion and with both of the levels that I’ve played in the new game, you’re free to do just that. Hitman 2 is no longer episodic, meaning you can power through all six of the new levels in one sitting if you want, but actually I’d recommend taking your time and learning the intricacies of each mission before moving on to the next.
Hitman’s episodic turn may not have been hugely successful for the company, but it showed the fanbase that the optimal way to play in this collection of assassination sandboxes is to digest it slowly, mulling over each individual hunt until you’ve mastered it.
We’ll have more on Hitman later this week, but for now, I feel confident saying that this is a continuation of the stellar work IO put into Hitman, and there’s plenty of reason to be excited about this November launch.