• Damien Lane

Review: 'Hitman 2'

"Hitman 2" is a reboot of the series that almost didn’t get made after low sales of the first game caused a breakup with publisher Square Enix. IO Interactive gained the rights of the game and partnered with Warner Bros Entertainment to come back two years later with the most refined, expanded, and enjoyable "Hitman 2" game. It’s a paradise that offers dozens of hours of trial and error missions in giant environments, all with the same great graphics and amazing engine.

The minority of players who truly loved the gameplay of 2016’s "Hitman" will also love the the seasons of "Hitman 2." The game's six levels, with each one arriving each month, made for the perfect timing. Players could fully immerse themselves in a new map without distractions.

"Hitman 2" will not be level-by-level as the "Hitman" before it. In fact, you can play through any of the levels in any order, with only a small spoiler warnings. The two games are nearly identical, down to a similar menu layout and challenge structure.

The real differences of the game are in the locales. "Hitman 2" introduces six new environments for the barcoded-branded Hitman to explore. In Miami, Agent 47 is tasked with taking out a billionaire tech CEO and his racecar driver daughter in the middle of an actual race.

In Mumbai, you can help an up-and- coming assassin by taking out all of your targets by making him look like a flawless expert in the craft, when in reality, it’s you laying the groundwork for him. In Whittleton Creek, Vt., a throwback to the classic "Hitman: Blood Money’s" (A New Life) mission, you trade the heavily-guarded office buildings and private party scene of your regular wealthy targets for small neighborhood suburban area, according to IGN.com.

In a way, each "Hitman 2" target has a natural flow to it. You jump in and feel immediately overwhelmed by the sheer scale of the environments and the hundreds to thousands of NPCs living their daily lifes.

But as you get the lay of the land by exploring the map, you work with the mission and a story starts playing out in front of you. Those stories help you learn how your targets move, think and what their main paths and storylines are, which helps you to make different ways you can improvise around your environment. To draw Knox away from his robot demonstration, for instance, you can tinker with one of the race cars he puts on display in the first floor of the building, bringing your target into very close contact with an active combustion engine. The players can work with so many parts of the environment to take out the target or just to detract someone.

IO is leaning heavily into the art of save scumming (where you save right before trying to do something so if you fail you can reload and try again if something unexpected happens). In "Hitman 2," something unexpected always happens. The game now features an easier-to-use saving and reloading system. The new system features an easier-to-understand autosave and manual save menu, as well. That way you can store up saves at critical parts in a mission to try one tactic and then come back and try another later on. If you find yourself attempting something hard or tricky like sneaking into a secure location without wearing the proper disguise, you can have a clean save to fall back on.