Hitman 2
Game Info
Platform(s)
PS2, GC, Xbox
Publisher
Eidos
Developer
IO Interactive
Genre
Action
Official Website
ESRB Rating
Violence, Blood and Gore
 
Grade
The Good

• Open-ended
• Fine soundtrack
• Large levels
• Save anywhere

The Bad

• Blocky character models and some weak textures
• Stealth elements could use refinement

 
Grade
A-

In Hitman 2, players take on the role of Agent 47, an assassin who has gone into retirement, working as a gardener in a Sicilian church as atonement for his sins. When the local priest, a friend of 47, is kidnapped, he goes back to work, performing jobs as a deal to get information on where his friend is. As the no-nonsense killer, you'll travel to various locations (including St. Petersburg and Japan), meet and kill people with a level of freedom that's often unhealed of in the stealth action genre.

Each mission starts out with certain objectives, often based around wasting one person or another (you're an assassin, for God's sake). But, the means by which you perform your task is really left up to you. You can go in guns-a-blazing or sneak in or even just get a sniper rifle and find a nice vantage . You can even knock out or kill people and take their clothes, hopefully making sure to drag off and hide the bodies to avoid raising awareness of your targets. While in disguise or sneaking around, players need to take notice of their suspicion gauge, which lets them know if guards notice them or are suspicious of them. The fact that players are given free reign when it comes to decision-making is a breath of fresh air and makes replaying just about every mission a joy.

The control scheme for Hitman 2 is well done and allows for a lot of options. Fans of 1st person shooters like Halo and 3rd person action games like Max Payne will be familiar with the two analog stick control scheme implemented. The Triangle button pulls up an equipment menu, while the Square button allows you to equip or unequip the current item. The X button allows you to use context-sensitive options, like opening doors, looking through keyholes and picking up items. The L1 button allows you to both crouch and go into a sneaking mode while holding the L2 button will allow you to run. While you may not want to run a lot, one may wonder why there is no analog control (walking or running based on how hard you tilt the stick). Holding down the L2 button just to run just seems like a waste of a button that could have been used for something else. R1 fires the equipped weapon and R2 reloads. R3 will allow players to switch between 1st and 3rd person perspective.

Unlike a number of games in the action genre, which force you to save at checkpoints or at certain spots, Hitman 2 allows you to save anywhere. While some people may think this would make the game easier, it's really useful in allowing you to "bookmark" at certain spots and then finding the best course of action through trail and error. You may find an item or weapon laying around that would have been nice to find at an earlier point.

The graphics engine sports some large areas and a good bit of detail. Both the interior and exterior locations feature some nice detail, even though some of the textures can be bland in places and certain spots seem to have gotten less attention than the areas you're obviously supposed to visit. The real-life detail of a lot of the rooms is pretty nice and goes a long way towards drawing the player into a graphical representation of what seem to be real world locations. While there is a good variety of NPCs, a number of the character models do look somewhat blocky. On top of that, some of the vehicle models really don't look as good as the locations they find themselves in. Both of those complaints can be overlooked in the grand scheme of things.

With sharp sound effects, adequate voice acting and a dramatic soundtrack, Hitman 2's audio portion greatly accents both the gameplay and graphics. First and foremost, the classically-driven soundtrack, performed by the Budapest Symphony Orchestra and Choir, gives a very cinematic scope to the game. Voice acting, while stiff at times, delivers the story well to keep you going.

Probably my biggest complaint about the gameplay is how the stealth aspect of the game is done. Unlike Splinter Cell or Metal Gear Solid 2, you're not given too good of an idea when you're in an enemy's line of sight. While there is a suspicion gauge, it doesn't seem to be too reliable. Since there doesn't seem to be an effective way to hide in shadows or know where your enemy's line of sight is, some of the stealth parts boil down to luck and just being fortunate enough to have the guard looking the other way.

Hitman 2 is a nice entry to the stealth action genre and the open-ended aspect of the game really sets it apart from the competition. If the stealth aspect was better defined, this title would be a "must buy". Still, fans of the genre will be pleased.

- - Kinderfeld

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