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Platform

PC

 

Genre

Action

 

Publisher

Eidos

 

Developer

IO Interactive

 

ESRB

M (Mature)

 

Released

Q4 2002

 

- It's Hitman!

- Great replay value

- Blazingly fast loading times

- Good variety of weapons

- Open-ended gameplay

- Good rewards and rating system

- A definite improvement over the original

- Supreme soundtrack

 

 

- Annoyingly bad voice acting

- Levels too large

- Weak story

- Could have been better

 

 

Review: Hitman 2: Silent Assassin (XBox)

Review: Hitman 2: Silent Assassin (Playstation 2)

 

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Hitman 2: Silent Assassin

Score: 8.0 / 10

 

Hitman: Codename 47 is bar none, the video game I have played the most in my lifetime.  Other titles that used to hold that sad record in my life are Castle Wolfenstein 3D, Street Fighter 2 Turbo, Soul Calibur for DC, and Need for Speed 3: Hot Pursuit.  I played the first Hitman to death.  I had the demo for about a month before the game came out and I played that demo for at least 3 hours every day until the game was released.  After the game was released, I played the Lee Hong mission more times than I can remember, and I can probably still track all of the guards' patrol routes.  However, I can't say that I think the first Hitman is the best game I've ever played, but it can be likened to a great love of your life.  She or he or it or fluffy the sheep, isn't always the best looking one, but they are the one you cared for the most.  So it was with great anticipation and heartache that I awaited the release of Silent Assassin.  The constant delays from its original projected release date of March 2002 kept breaking my heart but when it finally arrived in the mail, once again, all was right with the world.

 

hitman-2-pc-1.jpg (14871 bytes)         hitman-2-pc-2.jpg (19646 bytes)

 

Sure to garner plenty of negative media feedback, Silent Assassin earns its Mature ESRB rating completely.  Picking up where the first game left off, the genetic clone #47 has retired from his cleaning ways (i.e. killing ways, in hitman lingo) and now serves as a gardener in a Sicilian monastery.  Pulled back into his born profession when his friend and mentor Father Vittorio is kidnapped, 47 is ready for some new contracts.  The first mission is likely to give you an idea of the great graphics the game has to offer, and will also give you a taste of the annoying voice acting to come.  In graphical terms, the game hasn't improved that much over the original, but is nonetheless a definite step forward.

 

That being said, the game has some insanely fast load times for the type of graphics that it generates.  Weather effects are convincing, and character shadows follow the lighting naturally.  Game physics are another matter completely though. Although they are not accurate, it does not detract from the game.  (I wouldn't really know, but I don't think a person floats up into the air and lands slowly after they are shot.)

 

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Hitman 2 has many ways of completing different tasks throughout the game.  I'm sure many gamers will find, as I did, themselves returning to the game to try and complete a certain mission using a different method.  For instance, I'm sure many gamers will try and create the proverbial ghost town in St. Petersburg at some point.

 

Although I'm sure the level designers were in many cases trying to create authenticity, and different mission paths 

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by creating some really big levels, I think the game would have benefited from a more concise level design.  In some areas where it is advisable to walk rather that run to avoid alerting guards, the walking speed of the hitman seemed to slow down the pace of the game too much as the ground to be covered was enormous.  In some cases, running through a sewer seemed to go on forever.  Luckily, the map provided in Hitman 2 is more useful than that in the first game so it is much more difficult to get lost in a level.

 

As the game progresses, gamers will find their available choice of weapons increase based on the weapons that they encounter and take away with them during a mission.  This I found an interesting challenge since you can only leave a level with one rifle; to try and collect all the available weapons in the game.  Although the variety of weapons is nice, selecting weapons for a mission is decidedly pedestrian.  Some of the weapons given are not particularly useful but seem to be more of a novelty.  Also sorely missing is the ability to hide rifles in briefcases, and violin cases.  Perhaps we will see these items added in an expansion pack.

 

Gamers will also be awarded weapons based on their rating as a professional killer.  At the end of a mission the player is rated on their level of professionalism.  This takes into consideration how many times guards were alerted, how many shots were fired, how many people were eliminated, and how many close calls they had.  These factors are then broken down into two meters that represent the extent to which stealth and aggression were used.  Being awarded a Silent Assassin rating will, on some levels, reward you with a new weapon.  Achieving this, the highest rating, is quite difficult, and requires extreme patience and planning by the gamer.

 

hitman-2-pc-3.jpg (14850 bytes)          hitman-2-pc-4.jpg (16087 bytes)

 

Once again, the voice acting and the story leave much to be desired, but are serviceable.  The foreign accents of some of the actors are especially atrocious, but once you are really into the game the great ambient sound effects, and the supremely excellent soundtrack relieve some of the pain.  As in the first game, Jesper Kyd has scored the game, and has repeated a stellar performance in complementing the mood and atmosphere of the different levels.

 

In the first Hitman, many gamers complained of the awkward camera angle control where you could control 47's arms with the mouse and his movement with the keyboard.  This time around, the designers have ditched that design completely and have included a few different views, including an over the shoulder view, a first person view, and a pulled back third person view.  All these angles work extremely well, and gamers will likely find themselves using all of them in different situations.

 

Another complaint about the first game that has been addressed is the issue of saving the game.  Now, with three levels of difficulty, gamers can have up to seven saves on the easiest setting, while having none on the highest level.  The different level of difficulty also reflects the damage that the Hitman can take and give out.  A minor detail that I think could have been better addressed is the issue of bloodstains.  If there is no body present, guards will not be alarmed to see a pool of blood or a splattering of brains on the wall.  However, for the most part, the AI is good and challenging enough while being quite realistic.

 

While I stopped my life for about a week to play Silent Assassin, I do not find myself replaying it as endlessly as I did the first game.  This is mostly to do with the fact that some of the levels are just too large, and too much time is spent walking around.  Also, having completed the game, it is possible to play missions again with weapons that were not available when first playing through the game.  The only drawback of this is that you are only given a few rounds of ammunition for that weapon which kind of defeats the purpose of having this option in the game.

 

So despite being an excellent sequel to a solid first installment, I believe Silent Assassin to be a better game than Codename 47, but I think many fans will always love the first game best, as I do.  Newcomers to the Hitman game though will likely swear up and down by Silent Assassin but for those gamers who are unsure, Hitman 2: Silent Assassin is definitely worth your time.

 

- Mark Leung

(November 25, 2002)

 

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