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November 30, 2002
Hitman 2: Silent Assassin - Review
Release Date Distributor Developer Players Rating Difficulty
18/10/2002EidosIo Interactive1MA15+Medium
Save Size Sound Format Vibration 60Hz Mode 50Hz Border Widescreen

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Using the colt in the first level.
If ever there were a game that included questionable content then Hitman 2: Silent Assassin is probably it. As with the original Hitman: Codename 47 on the PC this game is about killing people. The first game was met with mixed reviews but was generally applauded for its original ideas, but required more polishing to make it a genuine hit. Eidos soon greenlit a sequel with Io Interactive once again taking up the development duties. However, rather then just hitting the PC this game was developed for consoles as well, with the Playstation 2 the first beneficiary. One of the most immediate things about Hitman 2 that impresses is the storyline.

Hitman 2 sees the return of Agent 47 from the original game, although he begins this game having retired peacefully to live in a church. All is not well however as the local priest, a friend, is bashed and kidnapped. In order to find his friend, Agent 47 calls up Diana at the agency where he worked to get some assistance with intelligence. In return they want him to complete some small missions. As the game progresses you will visit locations in Italy, Russia, Japan and India to eliminate selected targets.

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It's a bloodbath down there.
In case it's not clear yet the whole premise of Hitman 2 is that you are an assassin, and must kill various selected targets through 20 missions. You'll soon learn that it's not all that easy, as these targets are almost always heavily guarded by some very cleaver guards who will spot you from a distance and open fire immediatly. There really is two different approaches which you can take to this game. The first is that you can go in all guns blazing and try taking out all the enemies within the level. While that may be most gamers' immediate impulse when playing this game - more often then not it won't work. Storming in will trigger alarms and the objective/target may flee before you get to him.

The second, and most rewarding, gameplay method is to use stealth techniques to sneak up on the enemies and targets. By sneaking around the levels you are less prone to be spotted (especially when in a disguise) and will be able to sneak up on people and use the fibre wire to strangle them, and then drag their bodies into concealed areas to avoid discovery. Not since Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty has stealth been such an important, and rewarding, style of gameplay.

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Enemies will duck behind cover.
Naturally with a game such as Hitman 2 using weapons is an integral part of the gameplay. Starting with a fiber wire to strangle people, and a pistol it's nto long before Agent 47 acquires some new weapons during the levels. By the end of the game you will have everying from handguns to ninja swords, from shotguns to AK-47's. Everying serves a purpose and with only a couple of weapons available for each level you mush choose wisely - although in reality you wouldn't be able to carry as many weapons. Perhaps the most fun with being an assissin is the use of the sniper rifle. The crosshair is detailed while you will also have to combat the movement created by Agent 47's breathing. Unlike so many other games if you run out of ammo it's possible to clobber the enemies with your gun.

With the ability to switch Hitman 2 to either first or third person by pressing the R3 button this game is suited to your every needs, and either viewing mode is just as entertaining as the other, although in first person mode you can't tell whats around you without physically turning. The enemy AI also deserves special mention. The computer controlled guys are tough, damn tough. One slip up and much like the real world it would be all over. Enemies take cover and sneak around a lot more when an alarm goes off while you will often get second glances while in disguise.

One of the coolest features of this game is the evaluation of your performace at the end of each mission. In this you are given a rating such as "mass murderer" etc but are also given information about the number of shots fired, how many head shots you delivered, number of times you were discovered and how many people (enemies or bystanders) you killed. This adds some incentive to go back an retry levels you struggled with.

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Aiming for the throat.
And now to the problems, which are few and far between. The biggest complaint that I have is the controller setup, and in particular the weapons changing. It takes you right out of the game, but worse it feels like an effort. It'a hard to see how the game could have been improved in this area but given the increasing popularity of USB mouse and keyboard support it would have been a nice option. The third person perspective, although giving you more viewable area, is a little sluggish especially with the camera angles. Moving the character around seems slow compared to many other games. Finally I also felt, and this may be due to the time spent gettting used to the controller, that some of the earlier missions were actually more difficult then the later missions.

While this game won't win any awards for graphics the game is nice to look at and has a wide variety of locations to explore. The game generally maintains a solid 50fps even with plenty of action on screen while the character design being suitably lifelike. What really does impress is the variety of locations in which the missions take place. Not only do the levels look different on the outside but inside the buildings is also detailed an varied. My only niggle with the graphics is the camera which seems a little sluggish - it's not a technical fault but a design decision that could have be changed.

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Using the terrific sniper rifle.
Sound in this game is not only atmospheric, but superbly integrated into the game. The music was composed by Jesper Kid and played by The Budapest Symphony Orchestra and Choir and is of such quality that Eidos have even released a CD of the music which can be purchased seperately. The sound effects are equally impressive with plenty of ambient sounds, and cries from guards when you have been spotted. The weapons also sound terrific with distinct sounds for each weapon being used.

It's somewhat strange that the Australian government sees fit to disallow a game such as BMX XXX which contains some nudity, but then allows a game such as this to be released so people can become hired killer. Still, who's complaining. With a game so brilliantly crafted and engrossing as this Eidos were wise to allow development of a sequel. It's pretty tough, very violent, but extremely fun. Anyone looking for a good stealth/action title could do a lot worse then Hitman 2. Highly recommended.

GRAPHICSIt's never brilliant, but everything looks very good overall.
SOUNDSome awesome music tops off great speech and brutal sound effects.
GAMEPLAYThis is what all FPS's should be like. Addictive and very fun.
VALUEThere are plenty of missions, and several ways to complete each.
OVERALLHitman 2 improves over the original in almost every way with plenty more missions, better graphics, and stunningly atmospheric music. The controls may annoy some, but overcome those issues and this is a very enjoyable title, but please, don't let your grandmother play it.

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