IO Interactive
Eidos Interactive

Hitman 2: Silent Assassin

47. Codename 47. The name you will soon become synonymous with, and the name that will strike terror in the hearts of your foes at it's sheer mention. Codename 47 is the only name you will ever know of yourself, as you play through Hitman 2 controlling the ever badass, dark suit clad, black glove donning assassin extrordinaire, who's head is as shiny as his black leather shoes.

As you may guess, Hitman 2 is all about killing, and killing well, offering your superior skills to the highest bidder (with a company known only as 'The Agency' acting as your proverbial 'agent,' as if you were a star quarterback). Throughout the game, you will be sent on missions spanning several exotic locales, all packing plenty of variety in their environments, from peaceful, snowy St. Petersburg, to the inspiringly majestic Japan, to even the dusty, primitive Nuristan, located deep within Afghanistan.


Before each mission, you will be briefed on the hit (usually a powerful leader or influecial politician), the area of the mission, and your objectives, and then the game will let you tackle the mission in any way you choose (but of course suggesting stealth over mass murder). Missions will unfold much like an epic game of chess, and despite advertising itself as a 3rd person action game, Hitman 2 packs more strategy then you can shake a shotgun at, which really pushes the immersion over the top, making this game extremely compelling from every move you make to the next.

The way the game handles the strategy leaves everything entirely up to you, which is what makes it so addictive. The game offers you an array of gameplay elements, and just lets you have at it. For instance, one of the most useful elements in the game is the ability to change into any (male) character's outfit (provided you kill the character). Doing so with a guard for example, will fool all of the other guards dressed like you into thinking you're one of them (as long as you act normal, walking instead of running and what have you), which essentially lets you walk right into a heavily guarded area undetected. Another extremely useful tool is the ability to manipulate the dead bodies of enemies you kill. This proves very useful because if you have to kill someone silently, you can cover your tracks if you drag the body somewhere that nobody patrols, because if another guard finds a dead body, the whole place will be alerted.

All of these ideas just give you a lot of freedom in deciding how you want to tackle the missions, but probably the most influencial item in the whole scheme of things is the in-game map. Much of any given mission will actually be consumed just planning your course of attack on the map, largely because you can see all of the NPCs in the game in real-time, letting you study the guards' patrolling routes and just when the exact time to do something is. As I said before, comparing Hitman 2 to a giant game of chess really isn't far off.

Of course, that doesn't mean there is no action in Hitman 2, far from it. Like I said, Hitman 2 is a very non-linear game, so if all-out action is your bag, you can absolutely take each mission in that direction, but in my personal experience, at least trying to finish each mission as stealthly as possible proves much more enjoyable. However, when the guns need to be busted out, Hitman 2 packs a vast array of weapons, with multiple types of practically every kind of gun you could want, from more than a dozen different pistols and SMGs, several kinds of shotguns and sniper rifles, even kitchen knives, fire axes (which work well with the fireman disguise ;)), and other melee weapons, and of course, 47's signature dual pistols --the Hardballers.


Graphically, Hitman 2 doesn't disappoint, which is especially impressive considering the game was simultaneously released for 3 different platforms, and even more so considering it was built with the PlayStation 2 in-mind. Most of the game's missions feature large-scale environments, often with their own weather effects (from trickling rain, so a fierce snow storm) and large mansions and castles, modeled inside and out for your sneaking pleasure. The textures are well done and rarely recycle, though they don't take advantage of Xbox's superior bump mapping, and sometimes look a little blurry. The character models are impressive, and the animation is generally top-notch. One thing that irked me a bit though was the lack of a few animations for 47, most notably the way he seems to 'float' when you try moving and strafing a certain direction, because he lacks an animation for running in that direction. It doesn't affect gameplay at all, but it sure looks funny.


Even more impressive than the graphics however, is Hitman 2's wonderful sound. Featuring original work by the Budapest Symphony Orchestra, the game packs some astoundingly good music. Much of the game is fairly somber, but when the action picks up, the fully orchestral, heart pounding musical scores charge right in and knock you off your feet. Some of the scores in the game are just chilling, and add so much cinematic style to an already very stylistic title. The voice acting is also top notch, especially with 47, who's VA gives the character a tone that just commands respect. And as with the rest of the audio presentation, the sound effects are also well done, with realistic gun noises and footsteps that sound accordingly to the environment.

Bottom Line:

All in all, Hitman 2 is an excellent title. The story and atmosphere are engaging (especially in the final levels), and the strategic-focused gameplay is just gripping. The game packs a fairly lengthy 21 levels, and while that may seem impressive compared to most games in the genre, if you get addicted to the game as much as I did you can have it finished in just a few days if you work hard enough. The open-ended nature of the gameplay proves to offer the game plenty of replay however, and the impressive graphics and soaring soundtrack combine to make Hitman 2 an experience will not soon forget.

-Andy Wilson