Review by RobKemp
You are here. Your target is there. Go figure the rest.
One of the things I like most about Hitman 2 is its amazing freedom of choice, as you guide Agent 47 (the main character, a cold and calculated killer) to make the hit on your main target.
An example would be :
You are in the main lobby of a huge center of commerce.
Your target is apparently in the basement of aforementioned building, behind a small fortress of metal detectors, locked doors, cameras, and none-too-dumb security guards.
You can choose your equipment for each mission, ranging from chloroform for instant KOs and fibre wire for a silent strangling, to .50 sniper rifles and light machine guns, not to mention everything in-between, including (my favorite) a scalpel, stolen from a hospital.
Having chosen your equipment carefully (you can have all the tiny pistols or knives, 1 medium weapon like an SMG hidden in your coat, and one huge weapon you cannot conceal), you then begin your mission. This is where the thinking starts. Will you charge in, guns blazing, Rambo attitude going rampant, or will you, say, order a pizza, throttle the delivery boy, takes his clothes and hide his body in a toilet cubicle, then wait for an opportunity to take an order through the metal detectors (remembering to leave anything metal behind), to get close to your goal before closing in with the strangulation cord? Or maybe retrieve your special equipment, drop the enclosed smoke bomb down the laundry chute so as to set off a fire alarm in the basement, and when the buildings fire department clears out, sneak in, grab a firemen's uniform (and an axe), run to the basement with the rest of the firemen, sneak down a different corridor before drastically altering the shape of your targets skull with a well-aimed swing of the axe you smuggled through the security zone in all the carnage?
The choices are virtually endless.
And to add to the lifespan of Hitman's 20 missions, you obtain a rating at the end of the mission, depending on the number of needless kills, number of people alerted, and the number of shots you used. Ratings vary from Mass Murderer (those who have more bullets than brain cells will see this a lot) through cleaner (you can sneak from time to time, but why bother when you brought a 18-shot clip fully-automatic machine gun?) to Silent Assassin (the only person who knew you arrived was your target, and he sure ain't telling anyone). And it isn't just empty ratings either, every couple of silent assassin ratings you get, you earn another hidden weapon to put in your ''tool shed'', from two devastating-powerful silent pistols to a burst fire assault rifle.
As for the more technical aspects, I would give :
The graphics are slightly better than the vast majority of games available today, with functional and varying textures, and reasonably detailed character meshes.
A private orchestra was hired out for the production of the game, and it really shows. Music ranges from the nail-bitingly tense stealth of sneaking into the back of a truck to infiltrate a criminal establishment, to the dramatic and empowering sounds of a man on a mission, to the loud ruckus of a gunfight in progress. Sound generally sounds exactly the way it should, weapons making a variety of different clunks when dropped, varying depending on weight, length, and the height from whence it was dropped. Although I must say, the 3 or 4 explosions you hear in the game, are, bizarrely, almost completely silent.
This is where Hitman really shines. As I mentioned above, the choices available to you on each of the 20 missions are immense. Cut the power and sneak through (though the guards can see the green glow of your nightvision), poison the targets drink when they so much as take too long sneezing, then take an inconspicuous set of clothes and stroll out, with the unharmed guards none the wiser, the choice is yours. It is also mentionable that the game remembers the exact position of the corpses, which way up they were, and which hand it was you placed on the rear of that other corpse.
The 20-so missions will last you a few months, especially is played on the higher difficulties, and getting every last Silent Assassin award and exploring every possible course of action will take a looooong time.
Hitman represents some of the best work I've seen coming from a 3rd party producer in a long time, and will sometimes make you laugh, sometimes make you really hate that damn waiter who saw you throttle that bodyguard, sometimes it will make you thirsty for revenge on those who sent you on another wild goose chase in the plot, and very rarely will it leave the imaginative wondering why that guard decided you were a little TOO odd (do you LOOK Russian? and how often do you see an everyday civilian pick a lock or climb out of a manhole?).
But it will never, NEVER leave you disappointed.
Bring on Hitman 3.
Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
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