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The gaming world is submerged in discussions about the excellence of Red Dead Redemption 2 and Call of Duty Black Ops 4. It is still coming to grips with the good, bad and incomplete of Battlefield V, and the mess that is Fallout 76.

Hitman 47Credit: IO Interactive

Meanwhile, IO Interactive’s Hitman 2 is quietly one of the better games of the year. If you take a look at the most predominant gaming publications, on YouTube and other sources of information in the industry, and almost no one is talking about Hitman 2.

Unfortunately, it’s release date was sandwiched between the aforementioned behemoths, but if you’re at all a fan of the series, or into stealthy, assassination-style titles, you’d probably appreciate multiple aspects of the latest Hitman release. The critics are giving it props. On Metacritic, the PS4 version currently has an aggregate score of an 83, and it’s an 84 on Xbox One.

For those who aren’t familiar with the franchise, Hitman is a stealth/adventure series. You control the main character, Agent 47. He’s the bald and clinical assassin with the barcode on the back of his neck. Agent 47 travels the world completing assassination contracts and Hitman 2 delivers the next layer to the ongoing story.

This version didn’t come with the normal fanfare we’ve seen from earlier versions, but that hasn’t resulted in a poor product.

Despite not having the name recognition and support from Square Enix, I found Hitman 2 to be an enjoyable experience packed with variety and a good balance between lighthearted themes and murderous action. The whole thing kind of feels like a Coen Brothers movie–only without the cool cinematics. I’m a sucker for cutscenes that are embedded between stages or missions.

I believe this helps the characters to come alive, and it’s a much better way to tell a story. Unfortunately, Hitman 2 replaces those scenes with storyboard visuals and voiceovers. This creates a little bit of a disconnect, but aside from that, the story is enjoyable. While the story is solid, the real value in the Hitman 2 experience is the varied experience you can have as you complete assassinations. There are so many ways to take out and dispose of a target.

The objectives aren’t as strict as we’ve seen in previous versions or in other assassination titles, and this dynamic helps to create sequences like the one below:

You collect a number of different items, weapons, and disguises along the way, including briefcases that allow you to conceal illegal objects into sensitive areas. Thus the game really allows you to be creative as you complete missions. This montage is a perfect example of the many ways to take down a target:

Hitman 2 does deliver some interesting new multiplayer options like Ghost Mode and Sniper Assassin, both feel as though they are at the start of development for what could ultimately be a pair of valuable layers. Sniper Assassin puts the player in a position to complete some of the most satisfying assassinations in video games, and that’s as a sniper.

The neverending opportunity to pick targets off from long range doesn’t get old, although, I’m hoping to see IO Interactive offer a few more locations down the road. Ghost Mode is an online competitive feature that takes place on the Miami map for now, and you compete against other human-controlled Hitman players who are also trying to complete assassinations.

The one with the most points wins the round. It’s a diversion with some potential, but truthfully, that potential may not be reached in this version of the game–or at least not without a DLC update.

Hitman 2 isn’t perfect, but it’s promising, and probably a lot better than some of the other games you’ve been playing over the past few weeks.

 



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