Hitman 2's Gameplay Improvements Shine Through as We Tackle Colombia's Deadly Jungle

Murder between two (or more) ferns.

Hitman is not a game that you rush through. Every episode of the 2016 release was a puzzle that you were driven to unfold over time. Sure, you could hop in, do the most basic of assassinations, and be satisfied, but Hitman was really about spending time with each level. It's about a deep understanding of your targets, the obstacles in your way, and the materials available to you. Armed with knowledge of what's ahead, you can really cut loose and enjoy everything Hitman has to offer.

With this understanding of what Hitman is, I'm relaying my brief time with Hitman 2's Colombia level. I was invited to take a look at the new level for a few hours, following my time with the Miami level at E3 2018.

If Miami is like Hitman 2's version of Paris from the 2016 release—a bright, bustling event full of people and paparazzi—then Santa Fortuna, Colombia leans towards Colorado. Like Colorado, you're operating largely in hostile territory, hunting the executive members of the Delgado Cartel. In addition, the level leans on a higher number of targets; you have to take out Delgado Cartel leader Rico Delgado, his communications manager Andrea Martinez, and drug chemist Jorge Franco.

The map takes place deep in the jungles of Central America, with three distinct regions for each target. Rico Delgado spends his time in his fortified and guarded mansion; Jorge Franco is out in the jungle, splitting his time between his lab and collecting plants for his drug formula; and Andrea Martinez occupies the riverside town between the two. While you're partially free to wander around the town in the starting tourist disguise, the other two locations require more guile to traverse. You're open in terms of which target you should tackle first though, as the map offers a number of paths between all three locations of note. (I actually killed Delgado first.)

Martinez inspecting the event site with her guards. Note the tarp-covered statue.

Martinez is the most immediately available target, as you begin in the town. Martinez is planning an upcoming celebration in her semi-guarded villa. She occasionally leaves her villa to tour the preparations for the celebration, flanked by a pair of guards. My first attempt at Martinez involved knocking out a guard and taking his uniform to sneak into her villa. Unfortunately, I chose the wrong uniform, picking a guard without a facial covering. The uniform was enough to get in the front door of the villa, but I was caught by the security camera and some suspicious activity.

I was playing on Professional difficulty, so the cameras were something I had to keep in mind. Hitman 2 has added a few helpful tweaks to the camera system though. The first is you can see a camera's vision grid within Instinct Mode. The second is the new picture-in-picture, which shows you exactly what a security camera sees when it's recording you. (It also pops up anytime someone finds your murderous handy work.) I chose the wrong outfit, so my face was on camera, and I didn't have time to try and find a security office to wipe the footage.

Oops.

Oh well, that's Hitman. Let's reload and try again.

My next shot at Martinez was two-fer: in the town square, there's a statue overlooking the event podium. You can potentially kill Martinez and Delgado at the same time by pushing the statue over and crushing them. The statue just needs a little help to get in the right position; loosening a bolt that keeps it steady. Sneaking onto Martinez' villa did show me where I could find a wrench that can help loosen that bolt. So, I had to go back to the villa, but this time I decided to get a better disguise.

Colombia allows IO Interactive to show off another new feature in Hitman 2: foliage cover. You're in the tropical rainforest, so while civilization has carved out its niche, the region is full of ferns and other jungle plants. As Agent 47 moves through this tall foliage, he can choose to do so from a standing position, allowing him to be visible, or from a crouch, letting him move undetected.

While many guards around town are maskless, there are a few wearing balaclava-style masks or bandanas on their faces. After wandering around for a bit, I eventually tracked down my prey. One guard left his partner at their post and headed off into the nearby jungle to pee. I followed him and choked him out while he was relieving himself. The path was well-trodden, the jungle plants allowing me to choke the guard and take his clothes, while also not worrying about stashing the body. Basically, tall plants give you more options in terms of stealth, equally adept at hiding you, unconscious bodies, or contraband weapons.

As a newly-masked guard, I went back to the villa. This time, instead of coming in the front door, which is where the security camera was, I walked up to the locked back door. A fellow soldier walked over to the gate and unlocked it to let me in, allowing me to steal the wrench. I went back to the statue and loosened the bolt to prepare for my assassination attempt.

Then I got a bit lost in the weeds, listening to the town gossip for further kill opportunities. One offered me access to an outfit worn by a worker in the underground tunnels of Delgado's compound, which is just one way to get into the mansion. Another is to head down to the town bar and scope out P-Power, a "celebrity tattoo artist and reality TV star". He's in town to touch up Delgado's tattoos; so disguising yourself as P-Power can put you directly in front of the drug baron. You can push Jorge Franco into his industrial cocaine production machine. You can even kill Delgado by pushing him into a pool with El Mijo, a giant hippo. And those are just the opportunities that IO Interactive has prepared for this playground of murder. Players will likely create far more.

As I said though, Hitman is a game you need to get lost in to truly appreciate, and Hitman 2 is no different. I had a short session with Hitman 2, just enough to get a taste of Colombia and the overall improvements to basic mechanics. Even better, all these improvements will feature in the returning Hitman 2016 levels, like tall grass being added to Colorado. Hitman 2 is more of the same, but better, with IO Interactive adding new options for stealth and assassination, while also building some extensive new locations. Releasing a Season 2 would have been enough, but to see the developer beefing up Hitman 2016 for a full sequel is fantastic.

P-Power talking to his agent.

My only problem is I can't play any more. I guess I'll have to keep myself busy replaying Hitman 2016 over again.

Editor's Note: Warner Bros Interactive paid for hotel accommodation for a preview event, which this coverage is based on.

Tagged with Analyses, IO Interactive, PC, PlayStation 4, Warner Bros Interactive Entertainment, Xbox One.

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