"The new and improved Hitman"

Hitman: Codename 47 was a revolutionary entry into the stealth-action genre. Hitman 2, the inevitable sequel, improves upon many of the first game's flaws. However, Hitman 2 has its own set of problems, but its many high points overshadow its blemishes.

The story plays a more important part in Hitman 2. 47, now retired after the climatic ending of the first game, works as a garden at a church in Sicily. His only friend is kidnapped, and 47 is brought back into the killing business in order to get the information he needs to rescue his friend. The story is exciting, and told with cinematic flair.

Score: 9/10

The graphics are much improved from the first game. Environments are as lavish as ever, and there are some impressive rain and snow effects. Character animations are much smoother this time around, with little to no rigidity and robotic movement. Levels are interactive and well designed, although they're not as unique as the ones in Codename 47.

Score: 9/10

Jesper Kyd strikes again, with an amazing soundtrack of epic proportions. It must be heard to be believed. As for the sound effects, they're top notch. Voice acting is once again present, and this time, enemies speak in their local language instead of broken, heavily accented English. David Bateson returns as the voice of 47, and he does a much better job this time around.

Score: 10/10

IO Interactive hits (almost) all the right notes this time. The mission briefings are back, this time with an accompanying voice over. Photographs, maps and video surveillance are once again provided. This time, your map is real-time: you can track NPC patrol routes and time your strikes perfectly.

As you're in the jobs for the info and not the money, sadly, you are no longer paid for your hits and you'll have to collect weapons. Fortunately, 47 starts the game off with his trademark piano wire, silenced Beretta and akimbo .45 Hardballer pistols. Eventually, you'll acquire such goodies as the silenced MP5, SPAS-12 shotgun and WA2000 sniper rifle.

Artificial intelligence is improved greatly. The AI's suspicion level is tracked by a suspicion meter. To avoid suspicion, keep your distance from guards, since they can now positively ID you from their co-workers when given the chance. Of course, this depends on the outfit. If you're wearing a uniform that obscures your face, or all the guards sort of look like you, you'll blend in more than when you're the only white guard amongst a group of Indians. Sometimes, though, the AI will attack you because of the smallest provocation.

Trademark special items appear again, such as car bombs, poison, etc. This time you also get some melee weapons, such as an axe and a katana, although they all do the same damage and don't affect the environment. Sadly, the sniper case has not returned.

The most important feature is the ability to save. Depending on the difficulty, you are given anywhere from 7 free saves to none at all. You'll need to partition these saves out carefully, but the fact that the option is there is excellent, especially if you've played the first game and hated not being able to save.

Hitman 2 also features a ranking system, ranging from mass murderer to the eponymous silent assassin. These rankings are based on shots fired, close encounters, kills, etc. You'll be judged on stealth and aggression, and your overall ranking will be based on these two rankings. Fire more shots, cause more alerts or just general mayhem, and your aggression meter goes up. Keep stealthy and quiet, knocking out guards with anesthetic and only killing your target raises your stealth meter. When you get silent assassin, you'll unlock some new weapons, as well as bragging rights. Of course, if you're really impatient, you can pass just about every level by blowing everyone away. Many times, it's much easier and faster to just kill everyone.

Purists will dislike the saving and real-time maps. For these masochists, there is the Expert difficulty, removing all of the new features to make the game much more similar to Codename 47.

Like the first game, every level has many, many different solutions. That, compounded with unlockable weapons for getting higher rankings, adds gobs of replay value to Hitman 2.

Score: 9/10

+ Real-time map with NPC tracking
+ Saving mid-mission
+ Improved, more realistic AI
+ Interesting missions with many solutions
+ Epic soundtrack
+ Great story
- Have to force yourself to play stealthily
- AI can be a bit too twitchy/unforgiving
- The sniper rifle case is gone
- Level environments not nearly as interesting as in Codename 47


Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 04/26/07

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