(click linked text below to jump to related section of the review)
- The Game Itself
- 4.5 Stars
- The Video: Sizing Up the Picture
- 4.5 Stars
- The Audio: Rating the Sound
- 4 Stars
- Replay Factor
- 5 Stars
- Bottom Line
Hitman: Episode Two - Sapienza
- Street Date:
- April 26th, 2016
- Reviewed by:
- Sophia Edwards
- Review Date:1
- April 29th, 2016
- Game Release Year:
- Square Enix
- IO Interactive
- ESRB Rating:
- M (Mature)
Digital PS4 version reviewed. This second episode of the new 'Hitman' is available as an upgrade for the Intro Pack.
Agent 47's second mission takes him to the coastal town of Sapienza, Italy, where he is tasked with eliminating a virus that could kill anyone on earth on command, as well as the scientists behind it. Taking out two high-profile targets in a packed little town might not be so easy, but there's a wealth of opportunities to ensure everything goes off without a hitch in the latest part of IO's reboot of their classic series.
The Game Itself: Our Reviewer's Take
The first episode of IO's 'Hitman' reboot was something of a triumph, though part of its appeal is the way that it teased those episodes still in development. The second episode immediately allays any fears that this entry won't stand side by side with Agent 47's best moments, delivering both a fantastic setting and an incredibly fun mission in its own right.
The first entry saw Agent 47 killing off corrupt fashion moguls, but this episode takes a far more interesting turn, tasking players with assassinating a reclusive scientist and his protege, as well as destroying a virus they're both working on that could potentially kill anyone on earth at will. While the overarching plot doesn't see much development here, the self-contained story in the mission is a lot of fun, and is littered with tiny details about the characters and their work that you likely won't discover until playing through the chapter several times over.
But the coastal Italian town of Sapienza warrants return trips. Paris introduced the opportunity system, giving players objectives they could follow if they wanted to get a bit more direction with each mission, and Sapienza not only continues this trend, but gives far more interesting objectives to follow. 47 can disguise himself as a private detective and meet a target for a job offer, snoop on one of the character's love affairs, and partake in all manner of little storylines like this. These opportunities only scratch the surface of what can be pulled off here, and simply looking through the feats and challenges on offer had me excited to check out every single one. Sure, it's one thing to poison food, but it's another entirely to get a character into a private plane and destroy that plane with an antique cannon.
Working out exactly how to do all of this is extremely fun, and leaves the game feeling more like an intricate puzzle than anything else, and seeing everything fall into place is immensely satisfying. It's funny, too. The game injects a sense of black humor into every facet of its design, and while that can clash with the very serious overall plot, the sense of humor in every detail only makes each level more replayable.
It also shows just how comfortable IO is in just about any setting. Paris saw most of 47's exploits relegated to corridors, but Sapienza is a bustling town. While finding the targets isn't terribly difficult, as they own a massive private estate that takes up a fair bit of the game's setting, the challenge here comes from separating them from their bodyguards. It's a great dynamic that feels very different from what Paris offered, even just exploring the town and seeing every tiny detail of it is incredibly fun.
I think that it's in these details and the replayability of everything that the episodic format really works. The gaps between releases are a fantastic incentive to stick with each locale as long as possible, testing just how much I can get away with, how many unique ways there are to finish each mission. I spent 10 hours with Paris and still had plenty left to do, and I expect much the same will be true of Sapienza.
The Video: Sizing Up the Picture
'Hitman' remains as gorgeous as it has ever been, and the town looks absolutely terrific. It's hard not to get distracted from the mission at hand and just try looking around when an environment is this pretty. There are some minor texture issues with objects such as newspapers, but they don't detract from an otherwise beautiful game.
The Audio: Rating the Sound
The 'Bond'-inspired score gets the job done nicely. It's always fun when the music begins to swell once all objectives are completed, and it's time to make an escape. That said, the real star here goes to the game's fantastic sound design, bringing each area to life in a wonderful way. There is the occasional audio glitch, but it's nothing major, and will hopefully be ironed out soon enough.
Replaying the Paris mission was already a hefty endeavor, and this episode only ups the ante, and with IO constantly working on providing new online missions, there's already a near-endless amount of replayability here. Sapienza deserves to be seen multiple times, and even as I'm writing this now, I'm getting the urge to go back and check it out yet again.
Even better than the terrific first episode, the Sapienza mission might be a series high point. While there are still some technical issues, and the lengthy load times hamper things in a game where reloading to give things another shot is such a big part of it, the overall experience has been incredible so far. I can't wait to see what comes next.
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