Publisher:- Eidos Interactive
Developer:- IO Interactive
Genre:- Action Adventure
Release date:- October 2002
Windows compatibility Platform:- Win XP, Win 98, Win ME compatible
Tech Specs:- Direct-X 8 gfx compatible card (32MB VRAM recommended but I reckon most machines would have 64MB minimum even though it may be on a notebook), 128MB RAM (256 MB preferable), P3 450Mhz/equivalent (anything else is pure provisional bonus), 550 MB HD space (not many great games have the luxury of such a compact structure- who says great things don’t come in small packages? What with all that 200GB Hard disk space craziness around- sure, there is infinite hard disk space to do with what you will- but when it comes to maintenance, be prepared to stare at defrag screen/scandisk page for hours and even more so when virus strikes). And before starting Hitman 2, an important lesson learnt is to patch it! This game has got bugs left and right for you to squash and would still be found wanting after patching. Patch v.1.01 is the only one needed, though.
Current availability:- Rare. Even Amazon stocks it via 3rd party stockists. On the flip side…chances are higher. They may be found bundled in DVD with ‘Hitman 1: Codenamed 47’ and the last known offering ‘Hitman Contracts’ and some other weird software like ‘Ragdoll Kungfu’ or something politically correct like that anyway.
Assassination games are hard to come by even in this age and time. Hitman’s developers had a fiasco with their premier title ‘Hitman 1: Codenamed 47’ where a silent assassin turned out to be a mass murderer as portrayed by the chief protagonist John Woo introduced famously in his 1988 flick ‘A Better Tomorrow 2′. In this typical Hong Kong 1980s film genre, truckloads of baddies are most heinously slain by heroes who rode their luck so often that even the law of averages (when it comes to marksmanship) never apply to them and the triad members’ bodies continue to pile up until it suddenly becomes clear that JW has a morbid taste for blood.
But I digress. Hitman 2 has rectified the mistakes made in the pioneer title (sure, we can correct our mistakes if we start a new day free from life scars ain’t it) and has created a new image of the protagonist known only as Agent 47 and his agency contact Diana. The assassin theme would soon be associated with the dark nature of this bald-headed (with a bar-code imprint at the back of his cranium) and smartly dressed killer.
Agent 47 is what we know today as a contract killer. Pay him enough money, and he will do all the dirty work for you, even to the point of cleaning up all murder proof and maintaining normalcy of life as if nothing has ever happened. According to the developer notes, he is a genetically engineered murder weapon, designed to take a lot of abuse and has dexterity and speed unequalled to the common man. (Funny though, the scientist who operated on him appeared to forget to endow him with the simple ability to jump over even the minute of obstacles like a rock or a small bush.)
But there is more than that in Hitman 2. You can’t go in with guns blazing and all gung ho. Even with the amount of bullets Agent 47 can absorb, the guards around the target are well-armed and has godlike accuracy with their marksmanship. Mission planning is essential, and the tactical map with GPS is the best bet. The ultimate challenge is to undertake any given mission with a top ‘silent assassin’ rating. Generally, how one achieves the rating depends on the difficulty setting, but can be done as long as only one shot is fired at the intended target, and a maximum of one warning being issued. Warnings are given when Agent 47 fires shots loud enough for guards around the area to be aware of them, or you lose your disguise through some lack of foresight and your cover has been blown.
Disguise:- All missions start with Agent 47 donned in his common black suit and red tie. Crucial to all mission completion is the successful acquisition of disguises obtained from just about anyone around you. And no, Agent 47 cannot cross-dress in the vain hope that he will not get his cover blown. IO Interactive has cut down on the number of female AI in the scenarios so that 47 gets a lot more chance to nick a handsome disguise.
While the choice of disguise would hardly matter in some scenarios, for the most part in Hitman 2, each disguise carries the inherent responsiblity that the protagonist be absolutely careful not to trespass certain perimeters of the area. Imagine a postman having a frolic in the wine-cellar of a mafiosi don or a pizza boy going into a police barracks and opening lockers and stuff. A simple rule of the thumb is thus:- whenever a new disguise is acquired, follow the task expected of the uniform to the letter and acquire a new one to jump straight to a further objective if need be.
One more thing. In Hitman 2, the Agent 47 uses anaesthesia to numb the senses of his victims and to grab their garments for his job. The thing is that these victims can recover from their slumber in about 5 to 10 minutes real time and alert the surrounding guards of your disguise and soon will be on the lookout for suspicious staff wearing the robbed clothes.
Weapons:-Next, the choice of weapons from Agent 47’s arsenal. Frankly, Hitman 2 has scenarios which call for long-range sniper fire from a distant vantage point, and these missions make for serious brain-racking and mission planning. So, the logistics have been taken care for him, with a Dragunov sniper rifle ready behind some inconspicious crates or some distant places Russian guards will not patrol.
The usual method is to get kitted with the following:- anaesthesia, fibre wire, and silenced silverballer. Don’t bother taking in SMGs or rifles, as Agent 47 won’t conceal them in his default suit and you don’t just break in your target’s place waving your piece ala Max Payne.
Mission Planning:- I started off playing Counterstrike style in Hitman 2 and shoot everything that moves but after a while, the fun wore off and the tactic of not getting caught is way cooler than going in and puncturing 5.56 calibre at all your foes. The map is the best way to plan all the moves but most of the time, 47 should act according to situation as the developers have placed many useful diversions or tools along the way to facilitate the mission. Most of the guards patrol their set perimeter and rarely venture beyond their posts and the GPS can reveal their general movement.
Fun Factor:- The only Sicily mission is to kill a Don (Anathema) and is fairly easy although there are multiple ways to accomplish this.
The world of Hitman opens up with the first St. Petersburg mission where you have to snipe at a Russian ex-KGB (Komitet Gosudarstvennoi Bezopasnosti) general attending an important meeting based on information relayed to you via Diana from the Agency. Further missions require you to assassinate the remaining 4 Russian generals at various locations, but the best example of the developers’ brilliance is the sniper role in killing 2 targets. When you fire the first shot off the sniper rifle, guards around the target would go into full alert. Then the second target would try to scurry to safety and a well-placed bullet would be great satisfaction, given that the sniper rifle’s scope would suffer from involuntary 47 movements and recoil after shooting off the first rounds.
The Japan missions aren’t too bad either, but here, some of the idiocy of the setting would come to play. For one, 47 can hardly acquire a suitable disguise for his job at hand, and the one mission where killing a Japanese target with the simple and unassuming fugu fish is being too stereotypical. Not everyone dies from consuming the dear little fugu, not especially when 47 has not served the liver of the blowfish to the intended victim but for the sake of the storyline, this can be overlooked. The Japanese missions are notable for its deliberate need for planning and its top-notch assassin mission in the castle.
For Malaysians, the Petronas Twin Towers make a dignified appearance in a PC/video game for the first time. That said, the developers made an interesting choice of adopting the local language for expressing the Malaysian lingo but any Malaysian worth his/her salt can smell cheese in the developers’ coding. For, some lines have put the Malaysian people in a potentially undesirable image, especially when office workers speak to Agent 47 like a Chow Kit road-side hawker would or some poorly educated Malaysian bumpkin fresh to the citylights of my beautiful Kuala Lumpur. Yep, we do speak to each other in this simple lingo cos we can’t care to mind, but we don’t do this in professional settings, and IO should better not forget that, as I’ve some choice words about Danish people. That aside, the Malaysian missions are pretty challenging, although they are pretty straight-forward.
47 also meets his evil twin in a later Russian mission recap. And this time, the twin of 47 is twice as agile and has all guards at his disposal. An interesting counter-sniper scenario.Marvellous.
The Ugly:- I found the last missions mildly interesting. Set in the desert of Nuristan, Agent 47 NEEDS to wear some disguise to carry out his objectives. Here’s the catch. In a land full of Arabic-looking joes with goatees, how on earth can 47 do that? And the missions are crappy since they are repercussions of the earlier killings and the trend goes on and on. After Afghanistan, 47 goes to India. Besides the annoying Indian music which is a pain in the ass, 47 doesn’t get much choice with clothes here and almost every part of the Temple City is a forbidden area. Frustration can give folks white hair, and I’ve got a lot getting through this one.
The End?:- Retribution at the end of the game is the underlying thread running through the entire game. The last mission is a nod in the direction of John Woo movies, where a killfest is ready on the cards, once you get your own firearms that is.
Hitman 2 is satisfying to say the least although more work could have been done to spruce up the decor of most locations. Then again, beautiful gfx can never guarantee a good gameplay but mediocre gfx can also kill the fun, just when you’re having a good time. The music score by Jesper Kyd is passable but for the Indian fare he proposed to string together.
The AI can also be ultra sensitive at times. I recall many times when for no apparent reason, my cover got blown just because I got within 3 feet from a similar-dressed personnel. Other times, the AI will not bother you much, although when the stealth meter starts to beep into the red, it’s better to skulk away into nearby shadows and wait till it subsides or better yet, whip out the silverballers and instill the Hitman justice on them as well.
Hitman 2 is not a conventional game but retains its strengths with its many methods of meeting the objectives. You can go in all gung ho, with the MP 5 going full auto or you can take your time (but not too long) and gather enough info and execute impeccably to be a qualified silent assassin.