Hitman 2

Hitman 2

Written by Charlie Sinhaseni on 11/5/2002 for PC  

Eidos’ Hitman 47 featured a great concept but was plagued by a plethora of gameplay hitches. Though the idea behind the game was rather excellent, the execution was well below par and although the game garnered a cult following, it eventually faded into obscurity. Well apparently someone at Eidos felt that the game was worth digging up and thus we have Hitman 2, a game that outdoes its predecessor in every single respect.

The idea behind the game is simple; you assume the role of 47, an unstoppable killing machine who acts upon instinct rather than conscience. There’s a storyline thrown into the fray but of course, who really plays an action game for the story? If you want story go watch one of those cheesy Sundance films, come back when you’ve decided to grow a set of testicles. If you’re looking for intense action and hard-nosed action you’ve come to the right place. You’ll have plenty of weapons to play with, all of which serve their rightful purpose in slaughtering and maiming your opponents.

You’ll get rifles, machine-guns, sniper rifles, pistols and of course the always-lethal piano wire of DOOM. Unlike other games of the genre, each of them makes a significant impact in the game’s combat. Combat in the game is extremely entertaining thanks to the excellent over the top action that populates the title. Shooting your enemies won’t just result in their boring and uneventful death. Most of the time they’ll be blasted into orbit after each kill or at least they’ll die in a correct way in accordance with their surroundings. Shooting an enemy near a railing won’t result in him just simply keeling over but instead, he’ll slump over the railing and eventually slide down it on his trip to the hard and unforgiving pavement. Hitman is perhaps most famous for those dual guns that he is most often seen carrying. Simply named “ballers” those guns pay homage to the dual pistols that Eidos’ own Lara Croft is notoriously known for. Let’s just hope that Eidos isn’t planning a Hitman: Back in HotPants add-on pack anytime soon. I’m not sure if the world is ready for it yet.

Oddly enough, you can actually see your bullets after they have been fired. It gives the game a really cartoonish and unrealistic feel that is heavily out of place in this nitty gritty shooter. The slower trajectory of the bullets lead to a few problems when I tried to pick off targets that were more than 10 feet away from me. Oddly enough, it seems like the bullets actually travel much too slow for their own good, I tried to hit a moving patrol man on a balcony and I had to aim a bit ahead of him so that I could hit him. In essence, he was actually walking into the path of my bullet, not a good sign. I’d understand if this were with a sniper rifle at 100 yards but this is a 9mm at about 10-15 feet, this shouldn’t be happening.

Speaking of stupidity, the AI could have benefited from a little more quality time. Most of the time they’ll simply run at you and leave themselves exposed. It’s almost as if they have targets painted on them that have the words “shoot me” on them. Combat in the game, although pretty fun, simply should not be this simple. I was able to mow down hordes of enemies without much difficulty. This is a game that prides itself on stealth and quasi-realism; I don’t quite understand why it would be so easy to mow down endless hordes of enemies. At times I had to check the packaging to make sure that I wasn’t playing Serious Sam.
Thankfully the mission structure and variety has vastly improved. You’ll engage in interesting missions like assassinations as well as search and rescue missions. Though the game often encourages a stealthy approach to the levels, you can at times charge in guns ablazing. Some missions, however, run the “you get detected now you fail you rotten bastards” gamut. Though they provide a rather adequate challenge they do more to disrupt the flow of the game rather than help move it along. It’s like this, one moment you’re kicking tons of ass and going “Dude, I rock! I’m a f-ing killing machine!” The next moment you’ll be forced to move slowly and act with stealth and caution. If you’re a full-blooded male then your adrenaline will most likely be pumping with the force of jackhammer. Then all of a sudden, the game tells you to slow it down a bit, essentially hurdling you into a concrete wall. I’m talking missions where even running will cause you to be detected, thus forcing you to restart the mission. Go out and play a nice rough game of tackle football, now try helping your wife pick flowers out of the garden. It just ain’t gonna happen. It’s a shame that these interruptions occur because the majority of the levels are fun, imaginative and intense.

Though the game has been improved, that clunky interface from its bastard cousin still remains. Selecting what you want becomes an un-necessary chore and you can forget about utilizing it in midst of a battle. Changing weapons requires you to hold Q, scrolling the mouse wheel to what you want and then letting go of the Q key. This is fine and all but the action keeps revolving around you while this is going on. Of course the selection menu resides at the top right corner of your screen so your eyes will also be taken off of the action. It would have been nice had Eidos paused the game every time the gamer wished to select a different item or weapon. You can right click to change weapons but that causes another interface to pop up and disrupt the flow. Can you imagine playing No One Lives Forever 2 and having to pause the game every time you wished to change weapons? Most of the levels require stealth so you’ll have to conceal your weapon and manually withdraw it to defend yourself. At times you’ll be detected by an enemy troop as you hastily run past him. Afterwards you can expect to be helpless as this solitary enemy reins fire upon you as you frantically search through your inventory for a weapon. Quite a stark contrast from the 50-man killing machine that you were just a few moments ago eh?

Eidos’ has designed an engine that is an enigma of some sorts. I noticed quite a bit of blocky architecture that really shouldn’t be present in a game of this day and age. Cars and vehicles look like they were made out of Legos and the buildings and objects are rather blocky and altogether forgettable. Most of the objects that populate the levels look generic and bland, every item in the game looks interchangeable and if they were to be removed, I’m sure they wouldn’t really be missed. On the other end, characters look great while their animations are a bit under par. 47, in particular, runs quite oddly and at times, you’ll see some movements that could have benefited from a few more frames of animation. There are some nice lighting effects where multiple light sources will cast multiple real time shadows. You’ll see your shadow warp over different terrain and objects in a very impressive visual treat. Eidos should be commended, however, for creating an engine that is capable running on low to mid range machines.

If you have 4 or more speakers and a sound card capable of EAX, you’ll definitely be in for a treat. All of the sounds are separated through the different channels, so if someone is fire at you from the rear you can be sure that your ears will instinctively pick it up. The same goes for foes that are above or below you. There are some nice effects that just have to be heard to be believed. Firing a sniper rifle doesn’t just result in a simple sound and distant echo. You’ll hear the sound resonate all around you, migrating from the rear speakers to the front speakers to simulate the sound that the rifle makes when one’s head is pressed against the side of the gun. After the gun is fired you’ll treated to an awesome audio effect as the sound echoes throughout whichever environment you happen to be in, whether you’re in a confined space or the great outdoors, you can be sure that you’ll hear a sound that is true to its real life counterpart. It’s to see that a developer is taking full advantage of the recent advances in the audio field.
I’m heavily impressed by what the game’s audio portions provide as they reside among the best of what the genre has to offer. This game comes packaged with the recently released Sound Blaster Audigy 2 Platinum as a showcase title and you’ll know why right from the start. The atmosphere is just amazing and it is definitely aided by the amounts of time put into the audio department. Every single sound effect has been recorded with some pretty amazing results. Every gunshot, every footstep and every action has a sound effect that accurately represents what is happening onscreen. The voice acting is also top notch, featuring lines that are delivered naturally with emotion and feeling. It feels more like a movie as opposed to some of the dry dialogue that has been populating games as of late. Also adding to the excellent atmosphere is the excellent operatic soundtrack that adds and emotional and humane aspect to the game. There has been so much attention paid to detail in the sound department, it’s such a shame that only the small handful of people who understand the importance of audio in their gaming will be able to appreciate it. If there was ever a game that entice one to upgrade their sound card, it would be Hitman 2.

There are a few problems that prevent Hitman 2 from reaching potential Game of the Year status. At times it feels as if the game were developed primarily for a console, although the game can be saved at any time the number of saves is limited for reasons unknown. Though different difficulties will yield you different amounts of continues, I see absolutely no reason why this had to be done. Then again, saves weren’t even included in Hitman so maybe this is more of a plus than a negative. As I mentioned above, the interface could still use quite a bit of work. It’s unintuitive and overly complicated, especially for a game of this genre. Had the developers mapped the changing of weapons to the mouse wheel I would have far less gripes with the controls.

The pacing of the game is also quite odd and could have benefited from a bit of more planning. For instance, you’ll play two straight levels where the main objective is the run to an abandoned building and snipe a key target. If you have the patience of a virgin (or the grace for that matter) on Prom night, then you just might want to avoid this one. The game revolves around meticulous planning and highly discreet actions. This means that going in guns blazing may compromise the mission and force you to start all over again. It’s a bit frustrating at times to have all that firepower without being able to use it. Now I know how those crazed Generals felt during the height of the Cold War.

Hitman 2 is an excellent game that is well-designed and excellently executed. This game will test your patience at times but it’s definitely worth your while if you’ve ever wished to creep into the mind of a notorious hitman. Don’t let the first Hitman turn you off into giving this one a try because it truly is a tale of two video games. Eidos has learned from their previous mistakes to make a game that you just won’t want to miss. Though you might find a few faults with the game, the good far outweigh the bad and in the end, you’ll find an excellent game that serves up one hell of a good time.
There’s a general rule of thumb that I like to follow, if it bears any relation to Andrew W.K. then it’s bound to rock. Those Bud commercials that feature Party Hard rule, Madden 2003 - which also features Party Hard – rules, and the new commercial for Hitman 2 - featuring Time to Die by Andrew W.K. – rules. See? It’s a simple science that always delivers and never fails.

Rating: 8.6 Very Good

* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company for review.


About Author

Gaming has been a part of my life for as long as I could remember. I can still recall many a lost nights spent playing Gyromite with that stupid robot contraption for the old NES. While I'm not as old as the rest of the crew around these parts, I still have a solid understanding of the heritage and the history of the video gaming industry.

It's funny, when I see other people reference games like Doom as "old-school" I almost begin to cringe. I bet that half of these supposed "old-school" gamers don't even remember classic games like Rise of the Triad and Commander Keen. How about Halloween Harry? Does anyone even remember the term "shareware" anymore? If you want to know "old-school" just talk to John. He'll tell you all about his favorite Atari game, Custer's Revenge.

It's okay though, ignorance is bliss and what the kids don't know won't hurt them. I'll just simply smile and nod the next time someone tells me that the best entry in the Final Fantasy franchise was Final Fantasy VII.

When I'm not playing games I'm usually busy sleeping through classes at a boring college in Southern Oregon. My current hobbies are: writing songs for punk rock bands that never quite make it, and teasing Bart about... well just teasing Bart in general. I swear the material writes itself when you're around this guy. He gives new meaning to the term "moving punching bag."

As for games, I enjoy all types except those long-winded turn-based strategy games. I send those games to my good pal Tyler, I hear he has a thing for those games that none of us actually have the time to play.

When I'm not busy plowing through a massive pile of video games I spend all of my time trying to keep my cute little girl fed. She eats a ton but damn she's so hot. Does anyone understand the Asian girl weight principal? Like they'll clean out your fridge yet still weigh less than 110 pounds.

Currently I'm playing: THUG, True Crime, Prince of Persia, Project Gotham 2 and Beyond Good & Evil. View Profile

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