After years in the business, Agent 47 remains the best in the world at what he does. And no matter how much IO Interactive looks to up the degree of difficulty on his jobs, he keeps pulling through in style. In Hitman 2, one of the bald-headed contract killer's latest gigs sends him off to Colombia, home of the world's most dangerous drug cartels.
Are the drug traffickers and gun-toting narcos of Colombia too much of a danger to overcome? Or is Agent 47, in fact, the king of this jungle? Shacknews steps into the wild and attempts to fulfill Agent 47's latest contract.
The task in Colombia is threefold. There's a drug cartel leader named Rico Delgado, a cocaine manufacturer named Jorge Franco, and the cartel's PR arm named Andrea Martinez. All three of them need to be eliminated and, as has become the custom in the Hitman games, how they're dispatched is ultimately up to the player.
The Colombia stage starts off with Agent 47 stepping off a bus, with only the mission briefing and his limited inventory to help him along. Players are given little direction, in regards to how to go about picking off any of the targets. The first thing I did was head towards the giant mansion in the center of the map, just because it was the thing that stood out the most. I knocked and was quickly turned away.
Next up, I went into the town to soak in the crisp level of detail, both in terms of the art style and the AI, the latter of which had dozens of people all going about their own routines. Andrea Martinez was leisurely strolling through the town, with two heavily-armed bodyguards in tow. There was no following her to her compound, as guards turned me away. Crossing that line would trigger the "Trespassing" trigger and attracted unwanted attention. So what exactly was I supposed to do?
Fortunately, exploration and peaceful strolls are often rewarded. As I explored the edge of the map, a couple of nearby NPCs started talking about Rico Delgado's appointment with a famous tattoo artist. At that point, players are given the option to follow this particular mission path. There is an option to decline and find other paths, which I'll touch on in a bit.
This is where the Hitman gameplay started to kick into higher gear. I found tattoo artist P-Power drinking at a nearby bar, panicked over his appointment with a killer drug lord. There are different ways in which to proceed, but the main one involves using the classic Hitman mechanic of donning disguises. After clandestinely subduing both the bartender and P-Power, it was time to head to the compound in full disguise.
There are a lot of details that players have to be aware of when taking on these hits. I failed the initial attempt at the Rico Delgado hit because Agent 47 was frisked upon entry to the mansion, at which point the guards found his trusty pistol. To proceed, players have to find a safe place to drop the pistol, where nobody will stumble upon it. The UI will helpfully point out which inventory items can be found in a frisk. Similarly, as in past Hitman games, players have to be careful to place dropped bodies where no one will find them. While that was easy with the bartender and P-Power, it wasn't so easy to dispose of Rico Delgado's body, once he was killed. There was only a private bathroom to deposit the corpse. This is where one of Hitman 2's cooler features comes in. As I casually exited the facility and walked back towards the bar, a picture-in-picture pop-up will show up on the left side of the screen as soon as a body is found. Players will be notified that hostiles are in high alert, but if Agent 47 is back in his original garb, he can simply blend in with the populace until things die down.
Hitman 2 missions are systematic and they are lengthy. I used up nearly my full hour of demo time just on the Rico Delgado hit and only got the ball rolling on the Jorge Franco hit before my time with the game expired. Just as I barely scratched the surface in regards to completing my mission, I also didn't get a full scope of Colombia as a whole. Only after getting caught knocking out an NPC did I really get a chance to see just how big Colombia could get. Once I had Agent 47 escape the heat by hiding in a faraway bush, I saw the full stretch of the jungle and how big the map could get. The mission briefing alluded to a tunnel network that connects the jungle to Delgado's compounds, but I wasn't able to explore this fully.
Another thing I couldn't explore fully was the multitude of ways to complete the three hits. Players are rewarded for the different ways they can complete their mission, giving each stage replay value and an extra degree of challenge. For example, I could forgo the tattoo artist path and instead find a different way into the Delgado mansion, disposing of the drug lord by shoving him off his balcony. There are some intriguing and challenging ways to complete the Colombia mission. There's even a challenge to dispatch all three targets by feeding them to Delgado's pet hippo.
As far as differences between Hitman 2 and the previous open-world, episodic Hitman, I couldn't find very many. However, IO Interactive looks to have found a solid formula for these games. And while I was impressed by the size of the last Hitman game's maps, Colombia feels like a massive playground and one of the most beautifully-detailed stages in the series to date.
Hitman 2 looks to be a test of stealth, patience, and creativity. Judging by this hands-on in Colombia and what's been shown in Miami, it'll likely rank up there among the most challenging entries in the series. Those looking to take the role of Agent 47 won't have to wait much longer. Hitman 2 is set to release on PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One on November 13.