A sequel, no, it's more than a sequel, it's a new game. Many people see sequels as bad things. "Oh no, another sequel" they say, "a few changes and a graphical tweak which you would only notice on a PC", they say. Hitman 2 is different. It doesn't rely on its predecessor. It relies on its basic ideas yes, but copy, hell no. It reworks the original in so many ways. Better game mechanics, better control system. So many things are improved it's hard to pinpoint specific things. But does Hitman 2 do enough to impress?
The premise is simple. A retired hitman decides to undo his sins by deciding to start following God. His mentor, Father Antonio, helps him on his way. One sunny day, he's kidnapped. Now, we know your all thinking, "big guns go bang bang". Well, it just isn't like that. This isn't the stealth of Metal Gear Solid. This is proper stealth. The way it should be. Fair enough, you can go in guns blazing, but what's the point in that, when you have a brilliant stealth system and a perfectly simple to use piece of fibre wire at your disposal? Now what should you could you possibly use that for? Well obviously, as you do, you go after the 'bastards' who did this and kill as many of them as possible on the route up to your mentor's captor.
Your old friends at 'Agency' (isn't that just the most mysterious name you ever heard or what?) send on your way to your final showdown. You are assigned 'targets' which you have to 'hit', hence the name Hitman. The silent assassin also has a big part in this. One word, silent. Now we al love a quick blast, which you can do, but due, as said before, to the amazing stealth aspect in this game (including stealing clothes), why bother? You can take any route you like through the expansive levels, stealing clothes, weapons and generally rampaging quiet little villages, gate crashing parties in the usual embassy's or even the odd hospital visit. There is always a different way to kill someone, always. When you finish a level you are given a rank. Silent Assassin is what you want, showing you have the brilliant stealth needed to succeed in the tough world of the hitman. This is based on accuracy, people alerted and all the usual 'malarkey' associated with this genre of game. When you have enough of them adds new weapons into your shed. Now, let us explain about the shed. In the church grounds is your central hub (where you live and where Antonio was kidnapped). You have two sheds, one with a laptop (choose your mission and what weapons you want) and a 'gun shed'. In the latter are all the weapons you have ever collected in a mission (and kept until the end) which you can pick up, along with ammo, and practice on the pigs, scarecrow and many birds in the vicinity. You would not believe the fun you have shooting pigs with a crossbow...
As said before, a very useful and invaluable gameplay mechanic is the ability to 'borrow' clothes off unsuspecting victims (except women of course) in the game. You can steal a guard's outfit and stroll into the base without a care in the world. Obviously if you do anything even remotely suspicious however, that's a different matter. Running instead of walking is a major stir up and if your carrying a Sniper Rifle rather than a AK-47, it's quite obvious your not one of them. A small bar in the top-left has a black bar inside it. Black, not moving and you are fine. Slightly red and spinning slowly, they are getting suspicious. Bright red and spinning like a Catherine wheel, you better become Prozac induced and snipe them, or shoot like a madman! Another great aspect is that the AI is immense. Shooting someone at point blank range, right in front of their mate, unfortunately you might say, they are NOT going to just stand there and laugh. They will hunt you down, until you are dead, or more hopefully (in your case anyway) they are. How much fun you can have depends on your morals though. If you don't like standing on a balcony, waiting of a guard to come, then firing him over the ledge with enormously powerful double pistols (which you can do, hehe...), then steer clear. This is the most morally wrong game ever, but we have no morals, so it's bloody marvellous!
Lack of imagination is the biggest problem in games today. To complete a level you usually have to go from point A to point B and do exactly whatever the hell the developer planned for you to do. When you get stuck there's always the strategy guide. This game however breaks the mould of your part run-of-the-mill shooters part stealth games and offers the player a huge amount of freedom while playing, something very refreshing indeed. Everything from being able to drop bodies down drains, to sniping at government embassy's is in here. The freedom is unrivalled. The levels are massive as noted before. Even the very first level can be completed in about three different ways. Fun is the word, nothing else can describe it.
Graphics and sound could almost win the day hands down. The orchestral score is superb and suits the game brilliantly. Other sound effects, including gun shots and the howling of the wind are spot on. The sound makes it oh so much more pleasurable shooting someone with a shotgun and the 'phff' from a silenced pistol is ace. Everything down to the choking of innocent civilians is done down to a tee. The graphics are just as good, with marvellously detailed locations and the realistic animation is brilliant. Drop someone near a wall, they shape to it. Drop them off a building; see them fall, arms flailing until they are out of sight. Wonderful. Best of all, the frame rate never drops. It must be one of the smoothest games to date. Physics engine perfection! Put them at the top of a staircase and watch them roll. The guns can also be used to give them a 'helping hand', in their personal bid to get to the bottom before the guy they are racing!
The game is huge, bloody huge at that. Lifespan is measured in months not days, well, unless you are of nervous disposition. Levels are played over and over. Some take a few attempts to master, other take a single attempt. Whatever happens, you'll want to play over and over and over again. You can kill him with a pistol on time, a M16 another, a knife another; the game is just so deep. All the fun of a very large fair, in the palm of your hand!
Linear is certainly not a word for this game. The multiple routes through levels are quite awe inspiring. You are always in control and giving death to others is always fun.
Detailed locations make you feel like your really in the game. The frankly amazing physics engine helps things immensely. Superb.
Orchestral score, suitable blood splattering noises. What more can you ask for?
This is an extremely long game due to the many routes through. You can race through or slowly make your way through, finding everything the game has to offer, which is a fricking huge amount!
There is no one word to describe this game; it is a continuous feast to the senses. Everything, and we mean everything is perfect, or as near as you can possibly get without being there. Easily one of the best games on your Gamecube and it can now be picked up relatively cheap. You'll never have as much fun, really, you won't. This is worthy of your attention and should be in any no-morals gamer's collection!