Eidos Interactive’s “Hitman 2: Silent Assassin” gives PS2 and Xbox owners a chance to step inside the life of agent 47: a contract killer on a mission.
Agent 47 was ready to give up his former ways and settle into a Sicilian monastery, but the local mafia chapter decides to kidnap the abbot, sending 47 back to his old ways in an attempt to rescue him.
If the amorality and ramifications of murder don’t put you off, “Hitman 2” delivers quite a thrill ride.
“Hitman 2” is especially good at providing a setting to rival most Hollywood action films. Agent 47 must travel the globe on his numerous missions, ranging from Japanese Yakuza hangouts to computer firms in Sri Lanka. Every locale is extremely realistic and painstakingly crafted, and the characters move with an eerie fluidity that mimics human motion almost perfectly.
Though the graphics don’t push either the PS2 or the Xbox to their respective limits, the settings and characters more than make up for the relative graphic simplicity.
The game play in “Hitman 2” is a mixed bag, however. The game prides itself on the use of suspicion and disguises in order to accomplish an objective through stealth rather than aggression. While Agent 47 always has the option to infiltrate a heavily guarded area with guns blazing, more emphasis is placed on sneaking around armed sentries and using a disguise to ward off unwanted attention.
“Hitman 2” rewards choosing to steer clear of wanton bloodshed, that is until you get to the single person that must be eliminated in that particular chapter. You are a hitman, after all.
The problem is that your disguises may repeatedly fail through almost no fault of your own. At times, the enemy guards can be almost comically omniscient, spotting you as an intruder in the middle of a blizzard while both of you are wearing identical full-body armor.
Moments like these are unexpected and frustrating, and demonstrate a fault of the game’s artificial intelligence rather than one’s playing style.
Fortunately, “Hitman 2” is more than the sum of its parts. Though there are occasional flare-ups of disappointing computer behavior, for the most part things work as intended and stealth can be easily and intuitively executed. Certain missions require you to think when planning the infiltration of a foe’s headquarters, and the more times you play through a chapter, the more you are aware of the several options open to you in completing it.
Certain scenarios and chapters are some of the most intelligent and interesting ones I’ve run across in a video game, and it’s often a joy just to see how you can accomplish your task.
Finally, though the game deals with killing, it is not overdone. This is no Mortal Kombat: the level of gore is about on par for what you’d see in an R-rated movie, and the game has a subsequent “mature” rating.
Overall, the innovations in “Hitman 2” make it a worthy purchase, assuming buyers can deal with the mature themes and the occasional bouts of frustration.