Hitman 2: Silent Assassin
Last year's ground-breaking stealth 'em up Hitman was and still is an excellent and onginal game, still widely played despite its age. Rough around the edges and a tad tedious in the jungle missions, many nonetheless claim it's better than Max Payne. Certainly it's a close run competition between the two.
Pretty much a case of more of the same, Hitman 2is set to re-acquaint us with the lonely life of the assassin, with a much updated 3D engine offering even better character animation and a choice between first and third-perspective modes. Thankfully, the non-linear mission structure of the original will be retained, though there will be a slight shift away from purely gun-based assassination. As well as putting holes in your targets, you'll be able to poison them, electrocute them, perhaps even trip them up on a bar of soap, make them rattle down the street on a roller skate, where they'll end up plunging through panes of glass, giant cream cakes and finally into the suffocating bosom of a matronly lady in her middle years.
Rewarding players for well executed kills, the game will offer plenty of new weapons - even virtual play areas for you to test out your new kit between each level. We wouldn't be surprised either, if developer 10 has a stab at incorporating some sort of Bullet-Time mode, a la Max Payne.
It did, after all, have slow motion in the original Hitman well before Remedy came out with it.
Curiously there are no plans to include any multiplayer modes, but then considering the prospect of having 16 would-be assassins camping behind flowerpots and inside cupboards, it wouldn't be very interesting anyway.
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I can see how Hitman's smartly dressed assassin-for-hire grabbed our review crew alumni when he put a hit on the PS2 last fall. This hairless antihero's contract kills are ingenious. Need to knock off a Yakuza kingpin but can't find him? Poison his son's sushi and trace the corpse back to papa-san. If arsenic isn't your bag, you can just put a bullet in his back. The way you complete each mission is limited only by your sick creativity. Unfortunately, getting close enough to deliver your sordid calling card can be more frustrating than fun. Your mission briefings are so obscure that vexing trial and error is unavoidable. Half the time, I had no idea what I was supposed to do. Flaky A.I. makes maintaining secrecy a total chore, and seemingly innocuous actions often brought the whole town of Hindustan down on my bald head. But each time I circumvented the immeasurable odds and made the crucial killing blow, Hitman 2was briefly a blast.
While Hitman may not receive Metal Gear or Splinter Cell's hype, it certainly approaches their level of stealth-action greatness. Once you adapt to the slightly weird controls and learn to deal with the unpredictable enemy A.I., you'll find a good-looking game that does an excellent job of putting you in a hitman's shoes. Shawn is right about the difficulty, but I enjoyed the challenge--the open-ended, try-anything nature sucked me in. It's good to see the Cube get a tough and satisfying experience like this.
Hitman 2's biggest lure: the ability to incapacitate nearly any male character and steal his clothing. This fabulous feature allows you to impersonate flower deliverymen, waiters, soldiers, etc., in order to reach your end goal undetected. It's a play mechanic that forces you to think inventively, and it helps to keep you from concentrating on the game's hiccups (like occasionally choppy visuals and awkward controls). Throw in a solid narrative and surprisingly good voice acting and you have an engaging adventure title that rewards patient players.
The snow drifts slowly down from the ash-white sky as you lean on the cold metal of the radio tower's rail. The men pace nervously across the frozen earth a thousand yards away, their heads only visible for a few seconds as they pass by a crumbled section of wall. You take a breath and time your aim with the rolling movements of your sniper's scope. Your shot is true, the Mafioso falls, and minutes later his companion, the general, climbs into the armored limo where you've planted a bomb. You silently walk from the devastation and prepare for your next mission.
Hitman 2 is the perfect game of cat and mouse, hunter and hunted, genetically modified assassin and the dead. In this sequel to Hitman: Codename 47, 47 is forced out of retirement by the kidnapping of a friend and priest. Although not heavy on plot, Hitman 2 makes up for it in every other way, from sublime graphics and sounds to its perfect use of the Xbox controller.
The game now allows players to go through levels in the fashion they choose. If you want, you can try to blast everything that moves and hope your target is in the kill zone. Or try drugging a delivery man, swapping clothes and silently garroting your victim from behind. This is what makes the game such a pleasure to play, it's as close as you can get to feeling like you have total control of what you do and how you do it.
The game includes quite a selection of weapons, from the two types of sniper rifles, to machine guns, to the garrote and kitchen knife'47 will never tire of new ways to kill. Other improvements to the game include a limited number of in-game missions saves, the ability to play in first or third person and my favorite, the ability to look through the keyholes of just about any door.
Bottom line, Hitman 2 is a must buy, must play, must try to force yourself off the 'box to get a wink of sleep because it's so damned addictive.
The more astute gamers out there may be wondering where the heck a console version of the original Hitman ended up. Were afraid it took a hit after the PC release. It had a novel premise (a no-nonsense bald mercenary with a barcode on the back of his neck, killing people) and undeniably entertaining gameplay (involving costume changes, stealth or all-out gunfire). It also had lots of problems, such as the lack of an in-game save, the clunky control that left some gamers wondering if the hero was wearing concrete boots, and doors that required an entire SWAT team to open properly. But as lo Interactive takes another shot at the hitman simulation and swears theyll fix these issues, were more than prepared to believe them, jet off around the world to a variety of exotic locations, meet interesting people. And kill them.
You are Agent 47, a genetically engineered assassin currently resting in a Sicilian monastery, suffering from pangs of guilt and wondering if offing organized-crime syndicate bosses is really his lifes calling. The answer of course, is yes, as gamers arent going to line up for a Franciscan Monk simulation. Agent 47 has little time to ponder his eternal damnation, as a horrendous act of treason forces him back into the business. First stop? A mansion bursting with black-suited goons, a fat mob boss and a variety of mission plans to ponder.
After an exhaustive playtest on both the PlayStation 2 and Xbox, were pleased to report that both games look amazing. Not Splinter Cell amazing, but pleasantly impressive, with crisp, clean (and large) environments. But its the novel game-play concept thats likely to entice you: At the start of each job, youre briefed, Mission: Impossible style, about just who needs shooting in the head. In addition, if some secret plans need snaffling, youll be shown what these look like. Then its on to the ordinance closet for a spot of gun polishing. Yes, you get to choose the weapons for the job, and you can carry five. So if you want to cover the walls of your preys mansion in a fabulous new color called hint of brain, pack the SPAS 12 Shotgun. If, however, long-range sniping is your bag, stuff a Dragunov SVD rifle into your overcoat. After youve packed enough heat to star in the movie Heat, its off for a bout of bad-guy culling.
Depending on how bloodthirsty youre feeling, actual missions vary a great deal. You could spot The Don taking golf swings from his mansion balcony and plug him in the eye with a sniper bullet.
You could trek through the mansion itself, where silenced machine guns provide a quick dispatch method without the facilitys entire goon population overwhelming you. Or how about tagging an innocent so you can steal his outfit for a disguise? Just be sure to hide the body; semi-naked corpses tend to make the Mafia a little suspicious. Then explore the mansion safely until you locate your target and do him in. The point is that the use of stealth and a little creativity is absolutely required to be successful in any of Hitmans levels. Although the control is initially cumbersome (every button on the joypad is utilized), and negotiating the in-game menu system is sometimes problematic (choosing to open a door or look through a keyhole while youre being shot in the backside kinda sucks), the grand scope of Hitman 2 looks to thrill and excite. Just how grand is the scope? The Bucharest Symphony Orchestra was hired for the soundtrack. Just how diverse are the assassination targets? This time they range from ex-KGB Mafia man Rinat Rumyantsev to Mujahedin madman Abdul Bismillah Malik. Make no mistake; Hitman 2 looks set to provide more gang banging for your buck than ever before.
Some people like to blast everything in sight. Others do it with more style. Hitman 2 is a shooter that emphasizes stealth and technique over mindless action (hey, you're a "silent assassin," not a space marine). For example, you'll have to figure out how to infiltrate a drug lord's heavily guarded estate, then take out Mr. Scarface without alerting every bodyguard within earshot.
Stealth rocks. Stealth sucks. I'm eternally divided between loving and hating stealth games. They can be insanely fun, giving you the ninja-esque feeling that most gamers love about them, or they can be intensely frustrating, leaving you to repeat large sections of the game over, and over, and over. Hitman 2 is a mix of both, but I think it manages to stand out where I think other games failed, and for good reason.
First off, in Hitman 2, you'll return to the role of 47, the legendary assassin, in the employ of The Agency. Drawn out of his seclusion when his world is threatened, and one of his friends is kidnapped, 47 is forced back into the life he's tried to forget. The life that requires him to kill. His mission, his search for redemption, will take him across the world, from Sicily to St. Petersburg, to Japan, and elsewhere.
Good graphics, and excellent motion capture provide a distinct realism to the cutscenes. In particular, the designers really knew how to handle shadow and light to create a good scene. Audio is similarly well done, although the voice acting can be just so-so at points. Weaponry and gameplay are the same as ever, controlled now through a first 3rd person perspective. However, it's the missions that really highlight the game's strength, and that's the very stealthy nature of 47's job. With each mission presenting various methods for solution, you may become frustrated at first, but if you're willing to learn from your mistakes, this game gives you a good shot at winning.
Hitman 2, like all stealth games, requires a lot of patience. However, presenting clear and well thought out ways for entry, deception, and escape gives it a boost over the norm making it significantly more enjoyable. If you can stomach the story, which is a bit weak at times, you'll probably like this one.
Even though the original game was only for PC, Eidos and developer 10 Interactive promise the sequel will be just what console gamers want. In May, you'll take the role of an amnesia-stricken hitman as you travel to exotic lands, meet interesting people, and kill them. This is a gory, globetrotting mystery. Be sure to pack a sweater and some heat.