Platforms: Xbox One, PS4
2016's Hitman is best remembered for its episodic format, but the experimental reboot also served up some of the assassination-sandbox series' absolute best missions. The sequel shelves its predecessor's business model – offering a full campaign over bite-sized content chunks – but otherwise retains its successful formula.
For fans, this means more intricate planning and plotting within lavish playgrounds before permanently silencing high-level targets. Agent 47 once again has access to an arsenal that'd make an arms dealer envious, but the missions are most fun when firearms are forgone for more creative means of life-siphoning. When coupled with the many disguises you must don to access areas and trick characters, carrying out kills with, say, a lethal sedative or the clever placement of a concealed explosive can be highly rewarding.
While Hitman 2 will immediately feel familiar to anyone who's stolen an unconscious security guard's uniform before sneaking some rat poison into a clueless mark's coffee cup, it does pack some subtle surprises. Most notably, crowds seem larger and more realistic, environments more detailed, and maps more expansive. This latter tweak though, can be both a blessing and a curse. Navigating the bigger environments is a blast, especially when they reveal a bit of story or provide a fresh perspective on completing a mission. The extra freedom, however, can also lead to more failure, making trips on the trial-and-error treadmill more frequent.
Longtime fans will love the additional opportunities – and potential challenges – afforded by the extra breathing room, but less seasoned assassins may want to knock the difficulty down to “casual” to curb any potential frustration.
It's a better game than its predecessor.
Regardless of how well you handle a fiber wire though, you'll likely be left wanting more from Hitman 2’s story. Aside from pre- and post-mission cinematics – including some budget-looking static scenes – there's just not much narrative meat to chew on.
Hitman 2 doesn't do much to significantly evolve the series, but it's generally a better game than its predecessor. If you weren't on board the last time 47 returned from retirement, this sequel won't see you embracing the globetrotting lifestyle of a sharp-dressed professional killer. If you're craving more of what kept you coming back for every episode last time, however, this is a contract you'll definitely want to accept.