Review by KasketDarkfyre

Reviewed: 03/19/03 | Updated: 03/19/03

Breaking necks...one target at a time.

Several of the games that feature stealth-like tactics have graced my desk in spades and the most current one that I’ve found to be more my style is none other than Hitman 2. With several different ways that you can take out your target with your hands, items or weapons, there is a certain science that you really have to enjoy in order to get your hands dirty in this title. For those of you who like to have a little killing with all of their sneaking around, all you have to do is place your trust in an aging hitman that has nothing better to do than go around and whack people who keep messing with his life.

For those who have no idea of the background to Agent 47, you have to go back and play the PC version of Hitman in order to really understand why he is the way that he is. You find Agent 47 retired and working in a monastery as a gardener to attempt and repent his sins as a hitman in a previous life. While he weeds away in the garden, the padre of the church is kidnapped and it is up to him to try and save the life of the man who gave him a second chance. You’re not alone in this personal mission, but the Agency that you retired from is willing to help you out however they can as long as you can take care of a couple of loose ends for them.

When you finally get past the story, you’ll find that there is more strategy to the game then you can really handle at first. In order to complete some of the missions, you can’t simply go in with guns blazing and take out the target if you want your rating to be more than a hired thug. Agent 47 is a professional and he is good at what he does, which allows you to experience the world of the hitman without getting yourself in trouble. You’ll have several missions that require you to think out various paths and various ways that you can take out your target without getting yourself seen or killed. The trick is to have yourself ready for virtually any situation and not let it resort to a firefight in which you could be killed.

The amount of your options in any of the missions really depends on how in-depth you want to go with how you go about killing your target. You might want to sneak up and make it quick on them, but you have to scope out the area and make sure that you’re in the right place at the right time. If you happen to miss an opportunity, another one will present itself to you though you might find that it won’t go exactly the way that you want it to. One of the more interesting things is that if you don’t use a gun to kill your target, you actually get awarded with a better rating and the satisfaction of knowing that you can sneak around and kill just about anyone with your bare hands.

Moving 47 around the stages really isn’t all that hard and it requires a little bit of timing and some practice with the analog to get the right effect. Moving through the stages is a daunting task simply because some of them are bigger than you first realize and there are plenty of things that can go wrong. The learning curve on some of the more intricate movements such as crawling and sneaking up on people isn’t all that steep though you might want to take about ten minutes and really learn the ropes. If you do happen to use a gun, the aiming feature with the right analog stick really does help for those precision hits that you might have questions about.

Visually, the game is about as gritty as it gets without being Grand Theft Auto and its subsequent ilk. You’ll find that the stages are huge and very well detailed, through some of the character movements border on being either silly or un-realistic. There is something to be said to watching your target struggle like a fly in a spider-web as you’re choking the life out of him, but it looks extremely forced and sometimes uneven. Other various points to the visuals comes with the way that your targets take on damage and they will tend to react as to where they’ve been hit. That alone balances out some of the un-even portions of the visuals with the first-person mode matching that of top quality shooters.

The score that you have at your disposal is about as close to greatness as you can get with a game of this type in keeping the mafia style mood that the game portrays. While you don’t work for the mob, the Agency that you do work for is about as close to it as you can get, so the orchestrated music really does set the theme and pace of the game. Depending on what country you happen to be in, anyone that you happen to run across will speak in that particular language and for those of you without a bilingual degree, you’ll be able to watch what they say in subtitles. Not a bad collection of sound for a game that is so brutal and violent, now is it?

Hitman 2 is a great game if you want to whack a few people using stealth and overall brute force in order to do it. All of the elements of an awesome game are here, though some of the missions will be tough for you to really get a handle on the first time around. With plenty of ways that you can kill your enemy, and the themes that accompany you through all of the stages, there is enough here for any fan of Metal Gear Solid 2 and Tenchu. For those who are looking for a good time in the killing business, this is a solid buy at the local gaming store and a definite rent for the causal gamer.

Rating:   4.0 - Great

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