reviews\ Oct 20, 2002 at 8:00 pm

Hitman 2: Silent Assassin - XB - Review

There are certain men that are born for a single purpose and no matter how much they try to move on to something better--something honorable--the old ways always seem to call them back.  Such is the fate of the professional hitman known only as Agent 47.  Trying to put his life back together again after the action started in the first chapter (the game started on the PC), Hitman 2 continues the saga of lethal man who is forced to go back to do what he does best--send hoods to the morgue.


At the start of the game, 47 is peacefully living in Sicily, Italy working as a gardener for a beautiful monastery.  Without warning, his close friend, Father Vittorio, is taken captive by the local Italian mafia while he himself is threatened to pay a fee for his stay in Italy.  Once again, 47 dons his trademark black suit and dusts off his trusty guns.  Well, so much for peace and quiet.


The quest to rescue his friend takes 47 through the inside of an Italian mafia Don’s heavily guarded mansion to the orderly office buildings in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.  And the best part is that gamers are not obligated to carry out the mission through a single means but you are free to carry out a job anyway you want.  If one way is too difficult, gamers can always try another way. If you want to use stealth, you can cleverly find methods such as dispatching enemies using silent weapons, dragging away the body to hide it and change clothing with your victims.  Or you can just walk up to an enemy and put a bullet in them.  Either way, the choice is yours.


Early in the game, 47 finds himself working for the Agency again and is issued some pretty diverse missions that has him chasing down targets in Japan or India as well as a few other exotic locales.  The mission objectives are direct and to the point and there are practically more than one different way to reach the target.  Also, at the start of each assignment, Agent 47 will find himself in his old woodshed where gamers can select any weapon he might need in any given mission--and since 47 collects weapons he managed to bring back from a previous assignment, your choice of weapons is amusingly plentiful.


Agent 47’s skills remain delightfully intact from its PC original. Gamers can make the assassin silently stalk his victim when his back is to you and dispatch him using any number of weapons such as a wire, kitchen knife or any blunt object you might find.  Controlling Agent 47 is a bit tricky and requires much practice--especially when it comes to combat.  Luckily gamers can switch to first-person view for a more accurate shot.


The enemy is also much more intelligent this time around--although sometimes they are prone to running moving out into the open while you’re shooting.  They are still smart enough to pat you down while you’re wearing a disguise or are just a bit suspicious of you if you start running.  When on alert, they follow the trail of bodies and alert those around them.  They’ll also duck behind corners when a gunfight erupts and some of them will even wait on reinforcements before attempting to fire back.


There is only one word that sums up this game’s visuals and it is AMAZING. Gamers will be simply astonished by the level of detail found in the graphics from the very start.  The surroundings practically breathe with life as flocks of birds take flight over the beautifully detailed cathedral. Character movement is also an impressive visual trick since they move so fluidly and realistically . . . especially after they slump over dead so convincingly.


And would you believe the sound in this game is equally amazing?  Aside from the magnificently chilling soundtrack--that sets the mood so brilliantly--the voice acting is cinematic and delightfully perfect.  Gamers will love the detailed sounds of the environment such as birds chirping, noisy insects and the harsh blasts of wind in St. Petersburg, Russia.


Hitman 2: Silent Assassin is ultra violence at its most satisfying with a rich story that will have you cheering for Agent 47 every blood soaked step of the way.  With plenty of missions and dozens of innovative ways to carry out a job, this is a gaming experience should not miss at all.


#Reviewer's Scoring Details


Gameplay: 9.1
Moving Agent 47 around can be a bit awkward with the Xbox controls and this makes it difficult to properly aim at an opponent . . . especially when the opponent in question is moving.  Fortunately you can move from third-person mode to first-person mode easily and this helps you aim better.  You can also silently stalk an enemy and strangle them or noisily mow down your enemy.


The surprisingly intelligent enemies make for challenging confrontations as well.  You can kill a guard, drag his body so no one would discover him and steal his clothing as well as weapons.  If another guards find something out of the ordinary with you, he immediately takes action.


Graphics: 9.0
Hitman 2’s graphics is eye candy at its most sweetest.  The smooth textures in things like grass or the pristine clear skies of Sicily are amazingly rich as are the level of details found throughout the games such as the ripples in the swimming pool of the Don’s mansion.  The power of the Xbox’s graphics capabilities is really seen here.


And while the level of character detail during cut scenes is top-notch, the characters during the game are just terrific looking (just look at a character’s face through a sniper scope to see what I’m talking about).  The character movement is also smooth and life-like.  Your victims go limp and crumple to the ground and when you drag the body, their limbs bump along obstacles like staircase steps or small rocks.


Sound: 9.0
It is such an extreme pleasure to see a game’s sound compliment great visuals and that’s what the sound does in this game--compliment all the game’s elements.  The soundtrack, performed by Jesper Kyd and the Budapest Radio Symphony Orchestra, is both hauntingly beautiful and original. 


The voice acting also deserves much praise since the accents are dead-on and the dialogue is delivered with nary an exaggerated tone.  The sound effects of the weapons being discharged are also done to perfection. The sniper rifle echoes when fired in a narrow alley and the sharp retort of an AK-47 is loud enough to alert guards from across the street.


Difficulty: Medium
There are three difficulty settings (Normal, Expert and Professional) that are all challenging enough thanks to the superior enemy AI.  Guards call in reinforcements and take cover when you start shooting and many are smart enough that sometimes even a disguise won’t fool them.  The most challenging part is keeping up with the mission specifics.  One mission requires you to shoot a Russian General out of a room full of Russian Generals so you must follow the Intel to recognize which General is the right one.


To add to the challenges, you are given a set amount of saves so use them wisely.  On the plus side, however, there is no limit to the times you can continue after dying.


Concept: 9.1
While not entirely groundbreaking, this game offers a number of impressively unique features that make this an entirely different kind of action title.  It does not force you to complete a mission a certain way, instead, it is entirely up to you how you carry out the job at hand.  You can also select the weapons you’ll need and leave the ones you don’t--again, it all depends on the way gamers wish to handle a mission.


Overall: 8.9
Hitman 2: Silent Assassin allows gamers to step into the shoes of one vicious hombre and you’ll enjoy every single second of it.  Without missing a beat or slowing down in the very least, this is a fast-paced action game that will have action junkies drooling.  With a mature rating, parents should be wary, though.


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