The famous Hitman video game series seemed to reach a tipping point with the last release in 2016 so could Hitman 2 do anything to re-energise the once innovative benchmark setter of stealth games?
In short yes.
Released on November 13th on PS4, XBox One and Windows, Hitman 2 - the seventh game in the series - has received mostly favourable reviews.
And it is easy to see why. Hitman is one of my favourite game series of all time but even I was becoming a bit tired of the formula.
Thankfully Hitman 2 takes things up to a new level.
Following the events of Hitman, Agent 47 embarks on a mission to hunt the mysterious “Shadow Client” and disassemble his militia.
His first lead is the location of one of the Shadow Client’s lieutenants, Alma Reynard. 47 is able to gain some intel on the Shadow Client’s activities from Reynard’s home in New Zealand before eliminating her.
Impressed with 47’s performance, Providence authorizes him and the ICA to hunt down the rest of the Shadow Client’s militia.
So that has set the scene but what is better in Hitman 2?
Hitman 2 ditches the episodic model from the 2016 game which I thought was a bit of a flop if I’m honest and adds new mechanics with the traditional format of working your way through locations to discover the multitude of methods to complete your mission.
That in essence is what Hitman has always been about and where it has traditionally set the benchmark until the advent of the Assassin’s Creed franchise.
Hitman 2 has six new locations all of which show off the new Assassin’s Creed-style crowd mechanics - but perhaps none better than Mumbai although I have a real soft spot for the Miami raceway level which also looks great.
I would go as far to say the crowd-blending is Hitman 2’s crowning achievement but I also love the addition of functioning mirrors too.
Each level is complex but in a positive way and the graphics and overall presentation is vastly improved without being super life-like.
Hitman 2 also includes Legacy stages - old favourites from previous games - which is a brilliant touch from developer IO Interactive.
It is not all sweetness and piano wires, though, and Hitman 2 is far from perfect.
There are still the odd maddening mechanical limitations which prove frustrating and the plot can feel a little half-baked.
Overall, though, it represents a sizeable step forward and with the new mechanics leaves plenty of room for improvement going forward.