So I just wrapped up an exhaustive playthrough of Hitman 2 and I am really impressed with what IO Interactive was able to achieve.
To give yall a brief history I remember playing the original Hitman: Codename 47 back around its original release (think I was like 11 or 12 years old). Looking back on the original it was abit clunky and goofy, but I still remember being totally sucked into the game-world. The player literally takes control of a test-tube clone literally engineered to being a killing machine (not just machines! to quote the original). The story takes more of a backseat and puts gameplay upfront, but you have some cool moments that makes the player curious about Agent 47 and the lore behind his creation. The ending was pretty freaking crazy as Agent 47 basically fights all the previous test-tube clones to get to Doctor Otto Wolfgang Ort-Meyer.
Hitman 2 Silent Assassin was cool and improved on the original, still a bit wonky in spots.
Hitman 3: Contracts was a further polished and refined Hitman experience.
Hitman 4: Blood Money was clearly the pinnacle of the original Hitman Quadriology (if thats even a word)
Hitman 5: Aboslution was a mess and a insult to the original design philosophy of the first four. From what I can gather IO Interactive tried to follow what mainstream games were doing thinking people would like it more. Obviously this was not the case and it backfired. I remember back when the game was still in production that David Bateson was not going to voice Agent 47. I was part of the crowd who was extremely pist off by this decision. Thankfully David Bateson was asked to return, and he did. His unique, awesome voice, does a stellar job in the recent Hitman games.
Fast-Forward to 2016 I bought the original first part with the Prologue and Paris level for Hitman. Played it, enjoyed it, but decided to wait for the whole thing to release and play the game then. Waited a year, play through the entire first season once and didn't bother with it again.
Fast-Forward to 2020 and I picked Hitman 2 on a PSN sale and when I booted it up I noticed you could get all the legacy content updated with the Hitman 2 modern tweaks and improvements. Since I had the original first season already the Legacy Pack was free of Charge which was really freaking cool. I don't know why I didn't before, but I noticed all the additional equipment you could unlock by Maxing out your Mastery on each level, as well as certain feats, challenges and unlocked all the desired items I found useful or interesting.
In other games spending a bunch of extra time running through the same level trying to unlock extra stuff can end up being exhausting, or simply boring. However with how detailed and complex everything is in every Hitman level your time spent helps you learn more about the map such as unique routes, item placement, schedule for patrols and your assassination targets. The game does such a fantastic job at encouraging you to goof off trying to find more and more ways to take down your targets and the possibilities seem almost overwhelming at times. There are even special, somewhat hidden solutions to cleverly eliminate your targets. A great example is that of the Bangkok Hotel, were through careful observation and collection of the right Intel. You can goad the two assassination targets to meet up alone, have a heated argument, and then one target pushes the other out the window to fall to their death.
This brings me to my most important subject of praise and that of course is the gameplay. IO Interactive does a excellent job at creating these very large levels with a high amount of density of player interactivity for each region of said levels. Not only does the player have multiple paths to move around the environment, but these levels are littered with all kinds of items that all have their unique function within those levels. Want to just break a door open? Grab a crowbar. Want to loosen a gas valve where you target likes to light a smoke and then hilariously catch on fire? Grab a wrench. Want lure a real estate agent away in a secluded place to take his disguise? Grab about 10 blueberry muffins and leave him a trail to follow as he endlessly "ohm nom noms" away.
I could go on and on, but the point I want to stress is the player is given so many options to help accomplish their goal and never does the game once impede on Agent 47's abilities or enforce some artificial barrier or restrictions. For example on the last level of Hitman 2 called "The Ark Society". The stakes are pretty high and the story builds things up to make the player think that maybe it will be different or artificially harder than other levels. Or perhaps if Agent 47 gets spotted that its game over. However Hitman 2 does not do this at all, in fact it allows the player to screw up terribly, but will still give the player an opportunity to complete the mission despite how crazy shit gets. It is such a relief to play a game that grants the player the same about of power from the very beginning of the game, to the very end and never impedes on that. Aint none of that cinematic bullshit of "oh hey, Nathan Drake has unlimited ammo and cannot die here! oh hey don't get spotted by Nadine in this scene, otherwise she will cut your balls off!" Agent 47 is a badass at all times, its up to the player to make the legend come to life.
The difficulty of the game and the way NPC's react to the player and their actions are very logical. You get spotted in the wrong area, they will tell you to leave and then reprimand you if you don't. However certain NPC's will not mind your presence depending on their function in that region. Leaving a deadly weapon out in the open will worry civilians and they will report it to the authorities. The best advice I can give anyone who is thinking of playing Hitman 2 is patience. If you act too hastly, NPCs will notice your activities and interfere with your mission. Take your time and observes your surroundings. There will always be a opportunity to accomplish what you need to do, you just have to wait for the right moment.
Lastly the story is kinda neat in that, it does a cool job at interconnecting the story of the first four games with the plot of the recent storyline. There is alot of detail in the text entries you read and discover and it helps bring the setting to life. It is almost Metal Gear Solid-like in how it connects everything. Presentation is also going in a different direction from the original four hitman games. The UI is very simple, minimalist, and clean. I really miss Jesper Kyd and his music, but I guess IO Interactive wants a more likeable/relatable perspective of Agent 47. The feel and vibe of the original Hitman games were somewhat melancholy even perhaps bleak. Jesper Kyd did a great job at captivating the mind of a test-tube engineered killer with no empathy and simply kills as it is in his nature. I don't take issue with the new direction of how Hitman is now presented, but the original four titles will always have a special place in my gaming library.
If you like stealth, exploring levels, gathering intel on the situation and methodically devising a plan to achieve your objective.
If you haven't played Hitman 2, you should. Pick the game up (atleast get the legacy pack) grab all the extra content and have a blast.
It will be worth every penny.
(I enjoyed this game so much I went through every level on Master Difficulty and went for "The Classics" challenge. So here is my shameless plug)
(EDIT: Damn Typos)