Hitman 2: Silent Assassin
|Hitman 2: Silent Assassin|
|Release||Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 2 & Xbox|
Hitman 2: Silent Assassin is a stealth video game developed by IO Interactive and published by Eidos Interactive for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 2, Xbox and GameCube. It is the second installment in the Hitman video game series and the sequel to Hitman: Codename 47. The game was re-released for Windows through the Steam online distribution service and later a DRM-free version was available through GOG.com. A commercial success, the game has sold more than 3.7 million copies as of 23 April 2009 and is the best selling Hitman game to date.
Hitman 2 features mission-based gameplay. On each level, the main character, known only as 47, is given a set of objectives to complete. Most levels require the assassination of one or more people. However, how missions are completed is up to the player, and there are almost always a variety of ways to complete missions. Instead of simply running and gunning through the mission, one can set traps, like poisoning a drink, to terminate the target in silence. Some missions have assassination possibilities unique to the level.
47 can find disguises or remove them from an incapacitated person to blend in with his surroundings and access restricted areas. This plays in with the "suspicion" system; a bar beside the health meter on the HUD represents how much suspicion 47 garners. There are multiple ways to blend in more effectively; for example, the player can make sure to carry an AK-47 assault rifle while disguised as a Russian soldier. Despite the usage of a uniform, being nearer to fellow guards will simply increase the suspicion as they would have an opportunity to more closely examine 47. Also, running, climbing and being in restricted places are other ways to garner concern.
47's cover can be blown if suspicion gets too high, and the disguise will no longer be of any use. It is possible to switch between multiple disguises throughout the level.
Hitman 2 also uses the concept of a post-mission ranking system, in which the player is given a status based on how they completed the mission, rated along a stealthy-aggressive axis, between "Silent Assassin", a stealthy player who manages to complete the level without being noticed and only killing two non targeting people excluding the intended target(s), and "Mass Murderer", a non-stealthy player who kills everyone. The game rewards the player for critical thinking and problem solving, encouraging the player not to treat the game as a simple shooter. Achieving Silent Assassin status on multiple missions rewards the player with bonus weapons. These weapons, plus items found in previous levels, can be carried over into future ones, allowing for differing means of accomplishing the tasks. Big weapons like rifles and shotguns cannot be concealed, thus the player has to either be wearing an appropriate disguise to match the weapon, or make sure no one sees the player use it.
The game starts with a conversation between two men in the port of Rotterdam, the Netherlands. They travel to a remote laboratory operated by Dr. Ort-Meyer, finding everyone inside dead. A review of the security footage shows a man in a suit killing several guards and orderlies. Recognizing the man as Agent 47, one of the men decides to hire him.
With all evidence of his existence erased, 47 decides to leave his life as a contract killer and retreats to a Sicilian church owned by Father Emilio Vittorio, taking a job as a humble gardener. One day, 47 agrees to attend one of Vittorio's confessions, seeking forgiveness. Shortly afterwards, a car arrives at the church and Vittorio goes to shoo it away. Instead, the occupants abduct him and leave a note demanding a ransom of $500,000. Unable to pay such a large sum, 47 contacts the ICA (International Contract Agency) and agrees to perform a contract killing in exchange for information on the whereabouts of Vittorio. He gets information from the Agency that Vittorio has been taken to a cell in the basement of the Villa Borghese, a local Mafia hideout.
47 infiltrates the Villa Borghese and kills his target, but fails to find Vittorio; thereafter, he steals a car and escapes. To repay his debt to the Agency, 47 accepts several contracts in Russia. Upon completing them, he negotiates a deal with his employers for both a payment raise and any information on Vittorio. Eventually, he gives up his search, believing his friend to be dead. Returning to his previous profession, he carries out a number of hits in countries such as Russia, Japan, Afghanistan, Malaysia, and India.
Eventually, 47 learns that Vittorio's kidnapping was an elaborate setup by Sergei, the brother of one of 47's five fathers, to lure him out of retirement. He also learns that all of his targets were individuals who were involved in the sale of a nuclear warhead to Sergei's gang, and that the items he was sometimes ordered to "retrieve" were the components of two additional nuclear missiles. The warheads possessed key signature software that would disguise them as American-made, and therefore bypass the American missile defense system. Sergei, who intends to sell the missiles, needed to eliminate everyone involved in the deal, and therefore arranged for 47 to take the contracts. Learning this, 47 pursues Sergei, who has taken Father Vittorio hostage inside his church.
47 kills Sergei and his men, and frees Vittorio. Vittorio gives 47 his rosary and begs him to give up his path of violence and death. 47 decides that he is incapable of finding inner peace and leaves the rosary on the church door, formally returning to the ICA.
One of the major complaints critics made about the first game was that it was inaccessible to most players due to its unfriendly nature. Despite the problems with the first game, it did show potential for the underlying technology and gameplay. Improvements were made to the game's AI and the new levels were made smaller and more focused. Additional items would be available in the second installment including chloroform for quietly taking down enemies and a crossbow which could silently kill opponents. The initial story for the game would take place after the events of the first game. After hearing the changes planned for Hitman 2, PC Gamer declared in December 2001 that "Hitman 2 should be everything we wished of its predecessor – and that gives us extremely high hopes."
Hitman 2: Silent Assassin received positive reviews. Aggregating review websites GameRankings and Metacritic gave the PlayStation 2 version 85.02% and 85/100, the PC version 84.88% and 87/100, the Xbox version 84.63% and 84/100 and the GameCube version 83.47% and 83/100. GameSpot gave it a score of 8.6/10, saying that it "fixes virtually all of the problems of its predecessor" and is still an "outstanding" game. Electronic Gaming Monthly scored Hitman 2's GameCube version 7/8/8.5: the first reviewer criticized its artificial intelligence and mission briefings, but said that "each time I circumvented the immeasurable odds and made the crucial killing blow, Hitman 2 was briefly a blast"; the third reviewer summarized it as "an engaging adventure title that rewards patient players".
Despite the 7/8/8.5 scores given by Electronic Gaming Monthly, the cover of the Gamecube release says "9/10 Electronic Gaming Monthly Gold Award." This score is erroneously taken from the magazine's review of the PlayStation 2 version. When confronted with the issue by Electronic Gaming Monthly, Eidos said it would remove the score in future printings.
Hitman 2 has sold more than 3.7 million copies as of 23 April 2009. By July 2006, the PlayStation 2 version of Hitman 2 had sold 1.1 million copies and earned $39 million in the United States. Next Generation ranked it as the 47th highest-selling game launched for the PlayStation 2, Xbox or GameCube between January 2000 and July 2006 in that country. Combined console sales of Hitman games released in the 2000s reached 2 million units in the United States by July 2006. Hitman 2's computer and Xbox releases each received a "Silver" sales award from the Entertainment and Leisure Software Publishers Association (ELSPA), indicating sales of at least 100,000 copies per version in the United Kingdom. ELSPA gave the game's PlayStation 2 release a "Platinum" certification, for sales of at least 300,000 copies in the region.
Hitman 2 was nominated for Computer Gaming World's 2002 "Action Game of the Year" award, which ultimately went to Medal of Honor: Allied Assault. The editors wrote, "Hitman 2 is a huge improvement over the original, and it's one of the best games of last year in any genre."
The game's release sparked controversy due to a level featuring the killing of Sikhs within a depiction of their most holy site, the Harmandir Sahib, where hundreds of Sikhs were massacred in 1984. An altered version of Silent Assassin was eventually released on all the platforms with the related material removed from the game, however, the DRM-free version available on GOG.com is completely uncensored and patched to 1.01.
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