Last month, Square-Enix rebooted the long-running Hitman series in a somewhat unexpected episodic form. And while breaking the experience up into parceled-out chunks initially came off as a strange choice, this approach has done a great job of incentivising players to dip back into Hitman's intensely replayable levels.
At the risk of sounding trite, if you dug the newest interpretation of Hitman with episode one, episode two won't let you down. As with the debut, this second dose of content provides one large, dense, opportunity-rich level to wander through, with nearly countless ways to approach your objectives, both mandatory and optional. True, you'll be doing a lot of the same things you did in episode one, but the change in setting helps keep the experience fresh, along with providing a host new challenges for Agent 47.
Episode two drops Agent 47 off in Sapienza, a sun-kissed Italian resort town that IO Interactive renders with their usual staggering attention to detail. This time around, Agent 47's mission has grown more complicated than a simple assassination: He's tasked with not only eliminating a shut-in scientist and his head researcher, but also destroying the prototype for a deadly virus that could disrupt the thriving murder-for-pay industry. And on this mission, Agent 47's surroundings strike a much different chord than the bustling Paris fashion show of episode one—in fact, it's downright domestic.
This new setting definitely requires different strategies than the ones you relied on in episode one. While Sapienza provides plenty of other locales to visit, you'll be doing most of your dirty work in and around Caruso's home. In fact, tracking down your targets feels like a complete non-issue—seeing as they're in their comfort zone, you can usually find them puttering around out in the open, going about their business. The difficulty this time lies in removing them from their numerous armed bodyguards, which mostly involves finding out their weaknesses and using this information to lure them away to a secluded area.
As with episode one, I walked away from Sapienza genuinely impressed with the sheer amount of possibilities IO Interactive provides to get the job done. Even if Agent 47 isn't quite equipped to take advantage of the current situation, Hitman does a great job of letting you know what's possible: Walking up to some interactive object with greyed-out options essentially tells the player "Hey, come back once you've found a certain item."
But Hitman doesn't necessarily spell everything out, as simply watching people's actions clues you in on ways to potentially off them. As I disguised myself and hid in waiting for a target, I noticed her take a sip from a nearby glass of wine, which I could have easily poisoned ahead of time. The general Groundhog's Day style of world mastery definitely pays off, and keeping a close eye on the world around you can help make future playthroughs even more efficient. And unlocking new starting zones and items definitely helps make replaying levels more of a worthwhile proposition, since you can cut to the chase rather than retracing your steps from the very beginning with each new attempt.
Hitman doesn't necessarily need to be episodic, but I think this approach has definitely led to me sitting with and thinking about levels far more than I would if the complete package had been dropped into my lap. Your first stab at Sapienza might last only 4-6 hours, but it's hard to resist immediately jumping back in to explore the possibilities you couldn't quite figure out the first time. Hopefully, IO Interactive can keep up their impressive momentum with the next Hitman installment—their reboot as a whole is shaping up to be one of the best games of 2016 no one's really talking about.
IO Interactive doesn't disappoint with this second installment of the Hitman reboot, which features a big, beautiful, and dense level full of possibilities—one you'll revisit again and again to for the sake of creative murder.