Content Type: Gaming Reviews
Date: August 3, 2018
Hitman 2: Sniper Assassin is an always online stealth action shooter available from the PlayStation Store for the PS4 as a pre-order incentive for purchasing Hitman 2. The Hitman series began with Hitman: Codename 47 which released for PC in November 2000 garnering enough critical acclaim and success to produce sequels and console ports to PS2 amongst other platforms including Hitman 2: Silent Assassin in October 2002, Hitman: Contracts in April 2004 and Hitman: Blood Money in May 2006. The Hitman series made its debut appearance on PS3 in November 2012 with the sequel Hitman: Absolution which was followed by Hitman HD Trilogy that brought the three PS2 games to the PS3 in late January and early February 2013, but Hitman: Codename 47 still never arrived on console. Hitman on PS4 is somewhat of a departure for the series as it is an episodic release with content spread out over the course of the year of release, although the fundamental premise remains the same. Hitman GO released in April 2014 on iOS receiving critical acclaim and such awards as Best Game Design and Best iOS Game at the 2014 Canadian Videogame Awards which reflects the amount of effort invested making a complete departure from the actual premise in regards to how the game is unlike any other Hitman game due to the isometric perspective, turn-based movement and strategic gameplay.
Previous games by Hitman developer IO Interactive included Freedom Fighters on PS2, Xbox, GameCube and PC in 2003, Kane and Lynch: Dead Men on PS3, Xbox 360 and PC in 2007, Mini Ninjas on PS3, Xbox 360, Wii, PC and Mac in 2009 and Kane and Lynch 2: Dog Days on PS3, Xbox 360 and PC in 2010. A year after Square Enix releasing IO Interactive from their range of development talent; Warner Brothers Interactive Entertainment entered into a worldwide publishing and distribution partnership as IO Interactive had already bought back the rights to the Hitman franchise they had created resulting in the release of Hitman: Definitive Edition in May 2018, bundling together all of the content from their 2016 re-invention of the Hitman franchise. Can Hitman 2: Sniper Assassin provide a glimpse at a positive step-up for the Hitman franchise ahead of the retail release for Hitman 2?
Hitman 2: Sniper Assassin centres around a single mission that takes place in Austria with Agent 47 being contracted to takeout the remaining members of a gang and the bodyguards circling the event they are attending. Primary mission objectives include eliminating three targets, while eliminating as many bodyguards as possible using any method and disguise at Agent 47’s disposal. Meanwhile, instinct mode allows the player to have a clear view of all characters, targets and potential hazardous item locations are highlighted, while simultaneously slowing down time and marginally increasing accuracy with moving targets.
Every successful mission is followed by a detailed preliminary score containing a base score, time bonus, silent bonus and total score; multipliers including a challenge multiplier and a silent multiplier; and the final score accompanied by a display to show whether it is the player’s personal best performance and if a weapon upgrade has been unlocked.
Challenges task players with achieving particular sub-objectives such as the assassination category containing over a dozen challenges including Sleeping with the Fishes for eliminating and hiding five targets in water with a reward of a 1.08 score multiplier and Clean Slate for eliminating and hiding all targets with a reward of a 1.10 score multiplier. Meanwhile, a further category of 14 challenges referred to as feats include Blackout for turning off the lights in all rooms of the mansion with a reward of a 1.06 score multiplier. Challenges are quite interesting as successfully achieving an individual or many challenges will gradually increase your mission score.
Character design is as good as ever as Agent 47 wears his trademark suit and tie outfit, while enemy design also stands out as it fulfils the purpose of the player knowing the difference between a guard searching the perimeter of the area, a target and civilians through varying mannerisms and clothing.
Environment design is technically expansive as the landscape is massive such as the wedding ceremony with a hedge garden maze, a helicopter pad, a mansion, luxury cars parked in the car par and mountains overlooking the surroundings accompanied by a waterfall. Environmental surroundings have their own hazards such as the chandelier situated at the centre of the mansion on the top floor would kill any of Agent 47’s targets or guards that were standing underneath it. However, unlike previous Hitman games on home consoles; Agent 47 cannot explore the environments instead having to observe them from afar in a crouched position within a sniper nest through a sniper score rather than being able to explore on foot.
Weaponry is quite diverse, despite revolving around a sniper rifle. Agent 47 starts out with a Sieger 300 Ghost sniper rifle at level 1, but it is the mastery levels from level 2 through 20 that each unlocks a new major upgrade to the Sieger 300 sniper rifle that really changes up the gameplay in the form of XP representing how close the player is to simultaneously achieving the next mastery level and weapon upgrade. Weapon upgrades include four progressively improved straight pull bolt upgrades that increases the rate of fire, extended magazine for a larger capacity of body piercing ammo and a flared magwell that minimises the reload time and much more besides such as rifle precision for increasing the duration of slow down time when using steady aim and steady scope that increases the stability of the rifle when looking through the scope.
Hitman 2: Sniper Assassin and Hitman 2 will not be getting ported to the Vita, although isometric turn-based strategy puzzle game Hitman GO: Definitive Edition is available on Vita, while remote play for Hitman 2: Sniper Assassin is a further consolation. Hitman 2: Sniper Assassin’s remote play performance is reasonable as the graphics, audio and general performance maintains the quality of the PS4 version. However, remote play control optimisation has not taken place resulting in aiming through the scope and firing moving to the top left and top right of the rear touch pad respectively; therefore something that requires such precision during gameplay should have been re-mapped to L and R respectively with reloading moving to square and engaging instinct mode being re-mapped to a single press of X. Hopefully the remote play experience will be improved in the full release of Hitman 2.
The controls are appropriately mapped to the DualShock 4 controller with the control scheme consisting of pressing R2 to fire; holding L2 to aim through the scope; pressing R1 to reload; holding R1 to engage instinct mode; pressing triangle to mark a target to follow their movements; pressing up or down on the d-pad to zoom in or out respectively when aiming through the scope; pressing left on the d-pad to swap ammo type; changing the direction of the right analogue stick to move the camera when in third-person perspective or altering your aim through the scope; pressing the share button takes you to the share feature menu; and pressing the options button to display the pause menu. Tapping the touch pad displays Agent 47’s notebook, while vibration occurs when firing Agent 47’s sniper rifle to reflect the amount of recoil, although there is no light bar support that could have displayed varying colours to show the alert status from patrolling guards.
Graphically, Hitman 2: Sniper Assassin looks amazing; if all of Hitman 2 looks on par with Hitman 2: Sniper Assassin’s character models and environments, then Hitman fans will be in for incredible visuals. A frame rate performance option allows players to choose a consistent frame rate of 30 FPS or a potentially higher frame rate of 60 FPS, although it might produce more of a variable frame rate, while there are also enhanced visuals such as HDR support.
The presentation of the game is solid with a great user interface across various menus such as the main menu, solo mission menus, co-op mission menus, options menus and gameplay menus with support for navigation via the left analogue stick, directional pad and face buttons, although it does not include support for navigation via the right analogue stick and touch pad. Menu backgrounds evolve from maps to scenery of mission locations based upon the current menu that each provides a feeling of preparation for the mission ahead.
A female voice-over introduces the mission through a detailed briefing and analyses Agent 47’s performance during the mission such as commenting on the alert status of a guard that has found the body of one of their fellow guards or a known guest and when a mission has been declared as a success. Sound effects include Agent 47 adjusting the aim of the scope, firing and reloading his sniper rifle, while there is ambience including birds peacefully tweeting, a waterfall gushing and the noise of an incoming helicopter, alongside tense climactic music. There is no DualShock 4 speaker implementation that could have produced the voice-over, sound effects, ambience or music.
There is no trophy list which is a bit odd as it could have easily reflected the assassination and feats challenges to total 28 trophies including a platinum trophy list that would have tempted players that like to earn trophies that perhaps would have not previously considered trying a Hitman game.
There are no difficulty levels, although the difficulty curve is elevated and reduced accordingly by multiple factors including the quantity of patrolling guards and a timer within which the mission must be completed, while instinct mode reduces the difficulty of having to make split-second decisions by slowing down time. Meanwhile, Agent 47’s sniper rifle is hard to handle and fire with accuracy at first until missions have been successfully completed in order to earn enough XP to acquire greater levels of weapon mastery that gradually decreases the difficulty by noticeably improving each component of the sniper rifle.
The player has to be online at all times; even during single player which is surprising given that this was not the case for the vast majority of Hitman games. However, there is an all-new franchise first online co-operative multiplayer mode in which two players work together to complete the mission to the best of their combined abilities as a player can invite a friend. Every player in Hitman 2: Sniper Assassin’s online co-operative multiplayer mode would automatically choose to play as Agent 47; the only way around that hurdle was to introduce different characters in multiplayer resulting in players having the selection of Knight and Stone. Knight is a female assassin equipped with a Jaeger 7 Copperhead sniper rifle, while Stone is equipped with the Sieger 300 Redeemer, alongside both characters having their own unique weapon mastery levels.
Online leaderboards focus on high scores with each leaderboard containing each player’s rank; name (PSN ID); and their total high score in single player as well as a combined score in online co-operative multiplayer, while players can compare their positioning on the leaderboards with global players and friends in single player and online co-operative multiplayer.
Despite only being a single mission and not being able to explore Agent 47’s surroundings; Hitman 2: Sniper Assassin’s replayability stems from 20 weapon mastery levels, 27 challenges, online co-operative multiplayer for two players and online leaderboards that will collectively keep Hitman fans returning for at least a few hours.
- Title: Hitman 2: Sniper Assassin
- Developer: IO Interactive
- Publisher: Warner Brothers Interactive Entertainment
- System: PS4
- Format: PSN Download
- Cross-Buy: No
- Cross-Play: No
- Players: 1 (Online)/2 (Online Co-operative Multiplayer)/Online Leaderboards
- Hard Drive Space Required: 6.59GB (Version 1.02)