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4 February 2022

Hitman 2 Review

by Florian

The Hitman games are video games distilled to their rawest essence: You’re dropped into a richly realized world to live out a wild fantasy. I love the series because of just how unprentious it is - This game knows exactly what it wants to be and it excels at it.

The Premise

You are a hitman. A contract killer. A stone cold badass. The game plops you off in some setting, you find some people and you kill them. That’s it.

Nominally there is a plot but it’s generic and fairly dumb.

The richness of these games lies in their execution (ha!) not their premise. Each level is isolated from the others and relatively constrained. This means the developers can (and do) pay particular attention to every facet of the level design. In fact, that kind of is the game. There’s tons of side characters going about their daily business. There’s mini levels within the levels each with its own security and tripwires. There’s multiple ways to kill your target. There’s plotlines within plotlines within plotlines for the characters and the side characters and the side side characters.

This is great stuff! Hitman feels real because the developers could pay attention to each level individually and didn’t have to make a sprawling, generic world.

Where it fails…

Hitman Online

Whenever the series tries to hew away from its standard formula, it bungles it. This was my experience with the “online” section.

It worked fine for the first 4 hours (it took me ~14 hours to beat). Then it crashed. I don’t mean just the online service, the entire game crashed because the online service dropped. I could never go back online after this. It would hang on “Authenticating…” forever and then fail. If Steam ever went offline or the internet would hiccup, the game would crash. I eventually just booted it up offline and forgot about the online portion.

Unfortunately, this meant that I got no feedback on how the mission went. Not that that matters I guess? But it would have been nice to have the scoring system offline as well, even if this was just transient to your local session.

Is the series really that popular that it warrants an online leaderboard? I don’t really think so and I wish they had focused more of their time on what they are good at instead of bootstrapping an online portion onto the game.


I think their DLC model actually makes a ton of sense. The game is so easily segmented since each mission is a mini video game on its own that breaking out additional levels into DLC packs works well.

After I beat the main game I’d had my fair share of debauchery so I didn’t buy any extra packs, but I could have! And only spent money on those that I wanted to play.

The oddity is that their DLC packs don’t make a ton of sense. I bought the “Gold” edition which strangely did not include all the DLC or past versions (?) of the game. For that you need the “Legacy” pack. Ok, but there’s also a mad scientist DLC that’s seperate?

This isn’t really a problem for me since like I said, I was fairly content with what I got. It’s more just a confusing purchase experience.

Stealth games that let you do anything

When MGSV came out there was a lot of talk about how it gave you “complete freedom” to choose how you complete a mission.

The same deal with Hitman 2. You’re given complete freedom to kill the targets how you choose. If you want to follow the games plotline and push them into a well after poising them, have at it!

Want to be a no-nonsense classic killer who sneaks in their window at night? Go for it!

This is generally touted as a positive - the game gives you freedom of choice and doesn’t punish one style of play. And to be clear, I do think it’s a positive, but I also think it’s a little disengenous for reviews and developers to say that they don’t punish certain styles of play.

For instance, in MGSV if you gun down everybody or run in with a robot walker, the game tallies up your score and prints a giant “F” on the screen.

How is this not punishing you? A score is supposed to be a reflection of how well you did and you’re telling me I did awful, while also saying “oh well you can tackle it however you want!”

You can’t have both! Either you punish me or you don’t and giving me an F is a punishment. Hitman 2 does this in spades and it’s maddening.

In the Ark level, I found an unintentionally great sniping spot to kill the target. Eschewing the games intended plotline, I decided to snipe her from a distance. I then got a lower mission score for it not being a “natural” kill.

In another instance, I was able to lure my target into a bathroom and then electricute him to death. This is a seemingly accidental death just as much as the main plotlines, but my score got docked anyway.

I understand that these games need a way to encourage you to play them “as-intended” but the gameplay itself should encourage that not a lazily pasted “score” at the end.

Hitman 2 is Kooky

These games don’t take themselves super seriously and that’s great. We need more games like this. At various points, the badass super killer dresses up in mascot’s uniforms, lingerie, a stoner dude, you get the idea.

The game really leans into its sandboxyness and allows you to do pretty much anything, including silly stuff. At one point, my wife and I went on an axe murdering spree just because we could.

There’s some side-splitting snippets of dialogue and hilariously bitchy targets that you get to kill. All in all, it’s a fantastic gaming experience because of just how narrow its scope is: You’re a Hitman. You kill people. That’s it. How can we make this interesting?

tags: posts - video games