Hitman 2 review for Xbox One, PS4, PC

Platform: Xbox One
Also On: PS4, PC
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive
Developer: IO Interactive
Medium: Digital/Disc
Players: 1-2
Online: Yes

As I wrote back in June, I?ll forever have a soft spot for Hitman because of the fact I played the 2016 reboot obsessively when I was going through a difficult time last year. There?s just something about devising increasingly clever/stupid ways of killing off bad people that?s delightfully escapist, you know?

Even though I?m thankfully not going through the same level of emotional turmoil as I was last year (knock on wood), I?m pleased to report that Hitman 2 is every bit as enjoyable as its predecessor. Admittedly, it?s also every bit as dumb if you think about it for a second, but there are just enough winks and nods here and there that you can tell the game isn?t just well aware of its stupidity, it?s also leaning into it.

In large part, Hitman 2 doesn?t stray too far from the template established in the previous game: you get a short cutscene explaining where you?re going and who it is you have to kill, and then the game sets you loose in some large environment where you?re free to wreak as much havoc as you want in the name of killing off one or two people.

Of course, you don?t want to wreak too much havoc, or else a) the game docks points from your score at the end of the level, and b) the more havoc you cause, the harder it is to get away. It?s worth noting that Hitman 2 NPCs are much faster and more aggressive in reacting to Agent 47 stepping out of line than they were in the previous game, which means that it?s harder to go on ludicrous, over-the-top killing sprees where you kill loads of people, and then get away by quickly switching from one outfit to the next. Mind you, in some ways that adds to the level of absurdity, since it meant, during my time with the game, that Agent 47 got shot to death by trigger-happy security for the crimes of picking up the wrong thing off of a table, and unscrewing the cap on a barrel of oil.

As far as I?m concerned, however, it?s the absurdity that makes Hitman 2 so much fun. The number of ways you can kill people in this game is ridiculous, and I mean that in the best way possible. Sure, you can shoot somebody in the face or knife them in the stomach, but why do that when you can arrange for them to be crushed to death by a giant statue, or launched into space by a malfunctioning ejector seat, or simply beaten to death by a blueberry muffin? The possibilities are endless, and Hitman 2 allows you take advantage of all of them. In fact, it encourages you to take advantage of them, but pointing out the number of other stories available to you if you want to go back and try your hand at a mission via a different approach.

There?s also the fact that Agent 47 is somehow a master of disguise. Despite the fact he?s an enormous, bald white man with a barcode tattooed on the back of his head, he?s able to seamlessly blend into any crowd, whether he?s pretending to be an Indian clothes-washer, a Central American shaman, or literally anyone else anywhere the game has him travel to. Occasionally you?ll get random bystanders comment on how familiar he looks, but that?s as far as anyone goes.

On top of that, it?s always funny to watch as Agent 47 attempts to interact with other people before he kills them. As someone who loves wordplay, I can?t help but smile at the sheer number of ways he?s able to obliquely refer to killing someone. In particular, there?s one scene here in Hitman 2 where he has to pose as a real estate, and watching him struggle to figure out what normal people do in a house is genuinely hilarious.

And that, I think, is what makes Hitman 2 such a wonderful game: it understands that its basic premise allows it to be whatever the player wants it to be — it?s serious if they want it to be serious, but it?s also incredibly silly if you?re in the mood for that. Which ever way you choose to play it, though, it?s consistently fun, and that makes Hitman 2 well worth checking out.

Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment provided us with a Hitman 2 Xbox One code for review purposes.

Grade: A+