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EGX 2018: Hands-On with HITMAN 2

Agent 47 returns in a spectacular fashion. We had the opportunity to try the Miami level, in which it all went horribly, horribly wrong...

One of my favourite series in gaming, Hitman 2 continues the honed blend of stealth and tactics we’ve come to expect from IO Interactive and Square Enix (except Absolution. That doesn’t count).

At least, that would have happened, had I been just that wee bit more observant in my limited playtime with the game.

Sticking us in the Miami mission shown off in the early trailers, we’re immediately shown the effect of the latest iteration of the Glacier engine. More NPC’s, collision detection and solid AI routines create a packed scene at the grand prix, making it feel like a fully fleshed out environment. Colourful streaming banners, confetti and fireworks, light reflecting on polished surfaces, all create an immersive and lifelike experience that pleases the eye. Square-Enix have also released a teaser of the jungle level too, which is equally beautiful.

Unlike 2016’s episodic season, I’ve been assured that this will be a complete version, available both digital and physically. There is, so far, going to be six sandbox levels to explore, all with various opportunities, shortcuts and secrets for you to set up your cunning stunts. When asked about DLC, the reps were very tight lipped.

Back to the task at hand, then. Agent 47 is sent to take out two targets, and how you do that is up to you. Do you sneak in to the VIP area and drop a light fixture on to them? One of them is a driver in the race, so do you infiltrate as a member of the pit crew and sabotage the car? As always, there is an absolute plethora of ways to dispatch your targets, and that’s what makes the series so incredibly enjoyable. Opportunities are back: situations you can eavesdrop on to take advantage of a target’s weakness or location. Of course, you can ignore this and do your own thing.

Unless you’re me, of course. I love stealth games (keep your eyes peeled for an article soon) and will repeatedly go back and try and improve my stealthing attempts. Not this time though, oh no. Now, I understand at these events you only get a set time per game, so I thought I’d try being ad hoc sneaky. I thought I was doing well, when I took out a mascot and stole his costume (who’d stolen this from the actual mascot staffer. The plot thickens…), but alas, it was not the case.

Crime witnessed, the game told me. So, I knocked out the witness. Which created another witness. Normal me would restart the level. Time constricted me thought, ‘Nuts to this’ and started indiscriminately killing anyone that looked at me funny. Which isn’t difficult when you’re wearing a giant bird costume. Behind me, the rep was surprised. “That’s the most un-stealthy playthrough of the day”, he told me. Well, gotta explore every avenue.

Considering the foundation of Hitman games is predominantly stealth, gunplay has been significantly improved in each iteration. I didn’t finish the level, as it transpires that faux feathers aren’t great for blocking bullets.

So, as brief as my playtime was, I can strongly say that this is a brilliant sequel to a title that’s coming back for its crown in tactical stealth. The bonus of not having to wait for monthly level updates should hopefully please the impatient and with levels as big as they are, it’ll keep you occupied for a while.

Hitman 2 is available from November 13th, on PS4, Xbox One and Microsoft Windows.

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