guns and try to rescue (with the help of the Agency that served as your
employer) your priestly keeper, who is abducted for unclear reasons. But
the Agency’s help comes at a cost. In order for them to help you track
down the kidnappers, you must “hit” a number of Agency targets all
across the globe deep in the lawless pits of the criminal underworld.
Not that you’re looking forward to killing again, but 47’s loyalty to
the whisked-away priest requires him to extract his sense of justice on
the dopes stupid enough to incur his wrath.
47 is almost an anti-hero, being a killer and all. But unlike GTA: Vice
City’s Tommy Vercetti, 47 isn’t malevolently and inherently bad, and
villainous in his actions. He does what killing he does because he has
to (you can kill everybody including innocent bystanders, but the goal
is to only kill the bad guys); it’s his job and in the case of H2’s
storyline, his loyal responsibility. The story running through H2 is one
of its strengths. Untrusting of anybody, 47 knows everything isn’t as it
seems, and when you get to the last chapter of the game, you will
discover this fact also. It’s never directly implied that the Agency’s
intentions are as rotten as Denmark. It’s left up to the gamer to decide
if that is indeed the case.
You’re sent globetrotting to many exotic and deadly locales: From Sicily
to St. Petersburg, to Japan, to Malaysia, to Nuristan, to India, back to
St. Petersburg and finally returning full circle to Sicily. Here’s
another strength of the game. So many different locations allows for
incredible diverseness of levels. You’ll never feel like you’re playing
the same level twice, with plenty of eye-candy thrown in. Most of the
stages are huge too, giving you a lot of area to explore while sucking
in the good-looking visuals.
Sensually, the game is a real treat. The visuals are sharp all over,
from the characters to the levels, taking advantage of the Xbox’s
graphic abilities. The only negative I encountered was on the St.
Petersburg level. In the distance, you could see the pop-up rendering of
a far-away building appearing and disappearing as you closed in or
distanced yourself from that area of the level. But I didn’t see it
occur anywhere else in the game. The sound effects are great, but the
voice work is a little over-the-top for some characters. 47, though, has
the icy voice of a killer that will send chills down your spine.
Basically, the game’s action has you getting a mission from the Agency
(and the lovely-sounding-but-never-seen Diana) and then going to a
location and attempting to compete the required goals. Most missions
have a few side goals, and they can be confusing to complete, but always
in the end somebody winds up dead, riddled full of your bullets. Another
great feature of H2 is that there isn’t only one way to complete your
mission – it’s completely open-ended.
The only negative with open-ended gameplay is that it does take several
tries to come up with a viable option to complete your mission. The main
missions are broken up into a few smaller mini-missions so that you
don’t have to go back too far if you happen to succumb to the enemy. The
in-game save function, which was scarce in the first game and a major
source of complaints from gamers, now allows you to save often.
But yet again, H2 gets creative. To make 47’s appearance less apparent,
you can kill anybody and take their clothes, thereby giving yourself an
unrecognizable disguise that blends in with the situation. The only
strategy involved here is making sure that nobody sees you killing the
fashion victim and that you hide the now-deceased body. If the corpse is
discovered a message will pop up such as “guards now looking for a
suspicious bodyguard” (if you killed a bodyguard), which makes other
characters more wary and it becomes harder for you to go undetected.
(A way around that however is if you ever get the above-mentioned
message, kill a different character, take his clothes, and while they
are looking around for a suspicious bodyguard, you’re donning the
clothing of a doctor, for instance.)
The controls are one of its somewhat negative features, at least at
first. H2 uses a similar control scheme as Halo, using both thumbsticks
to control all of 47’s movements. Unlike Halo, H2’s controls are a
little too loose and twitchy. In the heat of a gunfight, you can run
into some problems trying to pivot around and shoot somebody, because
the controls aren’t as tight as desired. After the first mission, the
controls become less of a problem. Like any good shooter game, H2’s
weaponry includes a collection of different pistols, machine guns, and,
the prerequisite weapon of choice for a hitman, sniper-type rifles. Also
included are effective weapons that you wouldn’t necessarily expect,
like kitchen knives, poisoned fish, and crossbows.
Throughout your travels as 47 you run into a bunch of different
characters, some with definite ethnic ties to the region that 47 is in,
and that did actually cause a controversy already for the game’s
publisher, Eidos. The representation of the Indian Sikhs in the game
caused an uproar amongst the Sikh community so much so that H2 will be
altered in this respect when it appears on the GameCube.
A feature of the game that can be both good and not-so-good is the
artificial intelligence of the interactive characters of the game,
especially the bad guys. On one hand, you have to be careful around
everybody. If you run up to a civilian, you will cause them to flee away
from you, and in some cases they will alert the authorities or enemies
you are trying to avoid about your presence. The best method is to walk
through all areas of the game where you will be interacting with people.
Even walking can get your cover blown. If you walk past a guard, even if
you are disguised, he will look at you and utter, “Hmmm….,” like he
suspects you shouldn’t be there, but he’s not really sure. If the guards
are on high alert, you may well start getting shot at even with a
disguise. And if you set off any alarm, there’s gonna be group of angry
gun-toters after you. They just don’t run into your gunfire either. They
will take evasive action and hide to avoid letting you kill them easily.
The AI can be tough. But it also doesn’t make sense sometimes. There
could be two guards together. If you happen to shoot one with a silenced
weapon, the other one won’t react, even though a dead body just dropped
near his feet. He will continue on his way, and many times you can walk
right past them. H2 has an uneven mix of AI, but overall presents a good
Despite some schizophrenic controls that can be annoying at times and
which will definitely take some getting used to early on in the game,
Hitman 2 is very good, one of the better Xbox titles I’ve played this
year. This game has it all: a solid story, good graphics, sound, level
designs, and the ability to choose different paths to complete your
mission. If you like your action heroes flawed and bad to the bone, then
target Hitman 2 on your gaming hit list. It’s a worthy addition to your
- Lee Cieniawa
(November 24, 2002)