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May 1, 2002

GW Xbox > Xbox Previews > Preview Page


Hitman 2

IO Interactive



Increasing Rapidly

Did you hear the one about the assassin and the console? If not, we got the info for you here - no punchline included.

Just last year, Eidos and IO Interactive released Hitman: Codename 47 for the PC platform. The game followed a cloned assassin throughout various action packed missions such as killing high-profile mafia like leaders and sniping heavily loaded bodyguards. Hitman: Codename 47 sold massive amounts of copies, and it was just shortly after the games release that Eidos and IO Interactive revealed what looks already like a stunning follow-up to the blockbuster hit title.

This time around, our lovely title character will make his way to multiple platforms including the Xbox. Jumping from a computer (even a portable one) to a console won't be exactly easy, but the developers have high hopes that Hitman 2: Silent Assassin will be reproduced reasonably well.

Eidos and IO Interactive put the player in the shoes of a cloned killer used by a sinister doctor. After long journeys of searching for a place to go, he takes refuge in a Sicilian monastery, where he expects to get away from his evil past to take on a more quiet and peaceful life. Since this would make for a very dull game, a new story was created to spice up everybody's life. Not too long after settling down, trouble comes rolling his way as his only friend (a priest at the monastery) is kidnapped. One thing leading to another, Hitman decides to take up his once deadly trade. Unlike the first game, he's doing it out of free will and heart.

The hitman sets off to a dark world filled with crime, greed, poverty and dishonor. He must trust no one, not even the most admiring ally. Why? Well, if you make killing your life's work, not many people would be trusting you either. The player must learn the game he plays, overcome the highest obstacles, eliminate assigned targets and master the weapons available. Those are the key rudiments to survival, as failure is not an alternative.

Being an assassin doesn't only demand caution and precision, but stealth become very vital throughout the adventures of Mr. "Don't Mess With Me" Hitman. The ability to sneak up behind an enemy and slice his throat without being recognized is pretty much the foundation of the business. Assassinating someone usually revolves around not being seen or heard. Speed is not always the door to success. Knowing not only when to attack surprisingly, but when to take it nice and slow will need to be mastered in order to get anywhere. Expect these key fundamentals to be reflected in the game in the form of assorted assignments and tasks.

Heavy military type weapons are necessary when it comes to taking out designated targets. In Hitman 2, players find themselves with Pistols, SubMachine Guns, Machine Guns, Rifles, Sniper Rifles and a very stealthy Pentagon Combat Knife. Each one features its own purpose in missions, as not all weapons have the same capabilities and strengths. The designs are very well made, and resemble real life counterparts down to the smallest screw.

Eidos and IO Interactive have tuned Hitman 2's inventory system, making it much easier to navigate between weapons and items in the new interface. In a game of this genre, there's not always time to press a combination of buttons to access the inventory. Gamers will now spend more time actually participating in the mission and not figuring out how to open a door or slide an enemy across the room.

Another large change in the sequel is that the pre-mission shopping option has been canned. The companies felt that having to earn money to buy the more expensive weapons punished the less skilled players, so they came up with a new way of dealing with the mission equipment. Before missions, Hitman will be approached with a selection of items either taken from past assault victims or assigned by the agency. Enjoyment should be increased thanks to this small little tweak, as worrying about cashing in the money is no longer an issue.

For the first time, players will have the ability of choosing between the first and third person views. The console version of Hitman 2 uses an auto-aim system for close and mid-range combat as well as a manual feature. Options are always a plus, either way you favor it.

Saving was a problem with the first Hitman title, but thanks to a new save anywhere feature, players will be given the ability to store their process anywhere throughout a level. The catch is a limited number of save slots, meaning some sort of strategy would be useful when it comes to that. No unlimited saves here.

Like a lot of game's being developed these days, Hitman 2 does feature a cool reward. Instead of economical bonus', IO and Eidos have created a new ranking system to scale players on what type of Hitman they have become. The rating is done based on two criteria's; level of caution (save slots used and number of enemies/civilians alerted) as well as precision (opponents killed with headshots and so on). From there, players will be given a specific title according to their own style of play.

Computer Artificial Intelligence (AI) is always an essential component when it comes to games of this nature. It really is no challenge to hit targets that just stand there, and crowds that don't run screaming if you pull out a big gun in broad daylight. Its been said that Hitman 2 does feature just about the same AI script as the first title, although, as expected, it has been increased. Opponents will now communicate with each other on the player's position, and appearance, as well as try and uncover Mr. Hitman even when disguised. Enemies are affected by their unique morals, making each and every one of their behaviors diverse and unlike anything seen prior to that particular encounter. Running or walking by a guard will turn into different responses from the AI opponent. When it comes to being smart and ahead of the game, it looks like the developers are all over it with this new tweaked AI script.

Hitman's archenemies this go-'round include; Charlie Sidian (International Terrorist), Don "Anguillo" Gulliano (head of Sicillian Mafia) and Rinat S. Rumyantsev (ex-KGB officer). Unfortunately, the absolute pleasure of blasting Bin laden to a million pieces is short of reality.

Longevity is always a factor in video games nowadays. Hitman 2 is sliced into eight chapters based in six different locations around the globe including; St. Petersburg, Sicily and Malaysia. Chapters feature between one and four missions, closing in with a total of 21 tasks to complete throughout the game. In terms of gameplay hours, the companies behind the game are well aware that the first one was no doubt a bit too short. All in all, it's pretty much safe to assume a larger sequel and more hours of fun this time around.

Hitman 2 uses a new engine, which allows the designers to draw more details on the items. The engine being used for Hitman II is pretty much a completely rewritten version of IO's very own Glacier engine. The number of on-screen triangles has taken a huge leap from an average 2000 in the first Hitman title to about 40,000 in the upcoming sequel. Overall, the leap is enormous and something to look forward to for anyone looking into the purchase of this title.

Online and system link multiplayer gaming is not completely out of the question. Ideas and options are circulating within the studio, but no specifics or confirmed options have been revealed to the public as of yet. It would be certainly amazing to be able to play with other assassins over the Internet thanks to the Broadband enabled Xbox Ethernet port. Just imagine the possibilities!

Eidos and IO are working hard on their upcoming title, and it looks nothing short of striking so far. If you liked the original game, dishing out some extra lunch money should be a priority when Hitman 2 hits store shelves sometime in the first half of 2002.

*NOTE: Pictures are from the PC version of the game. Xbox screens will be available shortly.

Matt Thomas
Has been hit too many times, man.

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