Hitman 2

Mumbai is the best, most overhated, and most misunderstood level in the trilogy.

Hitman2 - Mumbai is the best, most overhated, and most misunderstood level in the trilogy.
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Mumbai is an absolute masterpiece in story, gameplay, and design, and it’s a genuine shame how much it’s dismissed by members of this community. It’s one of the most real, detailed, and immersive spaces in the trilogy, and one of the few that feels like it actually exists outside the boundaries of the level. Some people say the level is too big, but I can’t think of any locations you could delete that wouldn’t harm the overall experience – every part of the map has a purpose with hidden secrets and stories for you to discover. If you’ve seen all the assassinations/done all the challenges and still don’t like Mumbai – maybe because you don’t like the scale or the atmosphere – then that’s perfectly fine. But if you’ve only done the mission stories and felt no need to touch the level again, or completed it just once or twice and absolutely hated the experience – then I’m begging you to please, please please please please give the map a chance. Yes, Mumbai is a giant, confusing, and maze-like level. This wasn’t an accident or mistake on the part of the devs. They didn’t do this because they wanted to troll or annoy you. They intentionally made an intimidating map because they want you to succeed, and have given you all the tools you need to do so. Once you push past the feeling and realize there’s nothing to be afraid of, you’ll find that Mumbai offers by far the richest and most rewarding sandbox experience in the game.

Mumbai’s greatest strength is that, more than any other map, it gives you complete and absolute freedom in movement, shortcuts, paths, and the ability to traverse through the environment, with only Berlin managing to come close. Practically every few steps, you’ll be able to find some prompt for vaulting, scaling, or climbing, and every location in the level, major and minor, is accessible from any angle. If you haven’t had much experience in exploring the environments, then I genuinely recommend doing the following – load up Mumbai, head to the trainyard, and just fuck around as much as you can. I promise your jaw will drop at how mobile the game lets you be – every single carriage, you can climb on top of, and every single railing, you can vault over, and it all connects in such a seamless, outstanding fashion. Every single part of the map is like this, with even the most minor of buildings offering you several different entry points, and as for the actual fortresses, you could play the level a dozen different times and take a different path each time. It’s an absolute joy to find your own paths and figure out the “rules” of the layout – for example, realizing you can climb any ledge marked in green, or what the purpose of the ladders in the construction site are. And the more you play the level, as you understand how the areas connect and how to cut through any location, you’ll find the map isn’t nearly as big or unapproachable as it first seems, and that there’s barely any more travel time between your targets compared to, say, Miami, Haven Island, Chongqing, or Mendoza.

One of the most common criticisms of Mumbai is the ‘reveal the Maelstrom’ objective, to the point where people wish it was optional. But it is optional, and I don’t mean through the mission stories or the ‘poison his drink’ cheese strategy. The devs included a trick that most people in this sub don’t seem to know about that completely trivializes having to identify him – and in fact, I’ll leave it in spoilers for people to discover themselves. Even aside from this, though, the objective isn’t just an obstacle in the way of the target – the game intends for you to uncover its many tricks that make the process less and less of a hassle, in the exact same way that as you keep playing any level, you grow to understand its shortcuts, where to find the best disguises, etc. Breaking into the crow’s hideout might seem tedious, until you realize there’s photos easily found in Dawood and Vanya’s areas which you’ll almost certainly have to travel to anyway. And as you explore the city, you’ll discover another photo, carried by someone who can easily be pacified and hidden in less than 30 seconds, making the crow’s hideout redundant. With a photo easily obtained, as you observe the Maelstrom, you’ll find that even this isn’t necessary – he always has the same face and voice, the same route, and unique places to travel to and people to talk to. The first time you assassinate him on your own, without the help of instinct, you’ll feel as if you’ve surpassed the Maelstrom as the true master of the slums. And as one final reward, study him long enough and it’ll suddenly dawn on you that he’s always accompanied by the Holy Man – and with the final piece of the puzzle, you’ve completely eliminated any need to identify him in any playthrough.

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In terms of story and personality, the targets themselves are among the game’s best. They all feel equally omnipresent throughout the level in their own way, and are all perfectly integrated into their environments, with none of them feeling like an afterthought like Ken Morgan, Francesca de Santis, or Jorge Franco. Throughout the entire level, you can find NPCs feeling their effects, expressing admiration or disgust towards Dawood, fear towards Vanya, and all sorts of thoughts and theories regarding the Maelstrom (figuring out the truth behind the myths, through the mission stories and his manifestos, is its own rewarding quest even if it’s not spelled out by the game). Even their respective bases reflect their personality: Vanya Shah takes a vital part of the city and corrupts it into her own personal palace, hoarding the local water supply in her quest to enslave the population to her will. Meanwhile, not only does the Maelstrom ever enter the crow’s hideout unless he’s forced to, the base is completely unobtrusive and hidden within the slums, with civilians walking by completely unaware of its existence in the exact same way the Maelstrom invisibly blends in among the crowds. And in contrast, Dawood Rangan builds a giant tower in the middle of the city as a monument to his own ego, so that people will look up to him and know how great he is – in addition to the various billboards of him, and the TV he’s donated to the slums that only plays his movies. By this point, everyone on this sub is very well acquainted with Dawood’s awesome personality, but I also love the touches that make Vanya Shah truly loathsome and despicable similar to Claus Hugo Strandberg – claiming she “barely has enough water for her own needs” while surrounded by a massive garden and owning a private fountain, and that “a little hard work never hurt her” to justify toiling the laundry workers day and night.

Mumbai has among the best mission stories and assassinations of any level. The Kashmirian and train opportunities are (justifiably) praised enough for their spectacle, so I’ll highlight an underrated mission story – the Gregory Arthur disguise. During the photoshoot, Dawood lets you know just how much of a shithead he is, sexually harassing Kharisma throughout, but all the while maintaining his boisterous, cheerful personality (“When I pull off this look, all housewives in a two-mile radius faint automatically!”). When you have a private meeting with him, he drops the act and in a position of dominance, frisks and brings you to a wide open floor, threatening to kill your family, friends, and pets if you ever cross him. You finally interrupt his speech by leading him to a secluded area and eliminating him, or dropping him off the tower. While it’s not the most spectacular kill, I love it for how natural and satisfying it feels to turn Dawood’s control back onto him. Besides this mission story, I feel Mumbai has the most satisfying, interesting, natural, and most of all appropriate kills for each target in how you deflate Dawood’s ego, punish Vanya for her greed and terror, or use the Maelstrom’s knowledge and control over the slums against him.

Everything that people criticize levels for lacking – verticality, suit-only approaches, multi-target kills, etc. – Mumbai doesn’t just have these elements, but it’s the best at them. Scaling the side of Rangan Tower and taking in the rest of the level and backdrops is a gorgeous feeling – and unlike Dubai, knowing you can access those locations makes that verticality actually mean something. Besides that, there’s the trainyard walkways, chawls, skywalks, and makeshift rooftops which make traversal and sniper approaches an absolute dream. And if you care about suit-only runs, Mumbai is by far the friendliest map in this regard. The sheer amount of shortcuts and interconnectivity makes getting anywhere in your suit trivial if you know what to do, and every target has mission stories and assassinations that can be done suit-only, including the Kashmirian and every multi-target kill. The Maelstrom also has an incredibly wide loop with no restricted areas and tons of opportunities for accident kills. And finally, Mumbai has Dawood Rangan, which automatically makes it S+ tier.

There’s so, so much more you could talk about regarding Mumbai and it’s a shame that along with most Hitman 2 levels, it got shafted with post-launch content, with its cancelled ghost mode, no elusive targets, and only one crappy bonus mission, which is baffling considering it had the most potential for all three. So once again, if you haven’t really experienced the level, I urge you to please give it a shot, and I promise you won’t regret it.

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