Hitman 2

Retro Spectives Podcast | Episode 59 – Hitman 2: Silent Assassin

Hitman2 - Retro Spectives Podcast | Episode 59 - Hitman 2: Silent Assassin
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www.rspodcast - Retro Spectives Podcast | Episode 59 - Hitman 2: Silent Assassin

Retro Spectives Podcast. Each and every fortnight we play through classic games of the past, and then have an in depth discussion/review of them to determine if they've truly stood the test of time.

About a year ago we played through Hitman: Codename 47, and we both had a pretty awful time. While the concept was fascinating, the execution was awful, and outside of two standout levels (Traditions of the Trade and Lee Hong), the missions ranged from mediocre to straight up terrible.

We returned to the series on the promise that improvements had been made. And the number of changes is fairly staggering, far more than you'd expect in a single iteration. This was an mgs2>mgs3 level jump, not just another entry that's more of the same. But is expanding the scope of mechanics enough? Or is there something just fundamentally broken about these early Hitman games?


Link to the episode here!

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For those without the time or inclination to listen, allow me to bring up what was probably the biggest point of contention between myself and my cohost during the discussion. It concerns the famously derided set of levels in Japan, that many cite as being the worst in the game: Hidden Valley and At the Gates. My cohost hated them.

I don't think they're that bad.

I don't believe they're masterpieces, or even in my top 10 levels for the game, but I think they're functional stealth levels. And I struggle to understand the hatred I always see towards them. Here's what I've identified as reasons for why people hate them, and my responses.

1. Getting Silent Assassin is broken on these levels

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Fair enough. The levels being buggy to the point where the AI dying to a truck running them over would be incredibly frustrating. But really, how much does this really matter? Its just an arbitrary ranking, one that almost functions as a NG+ system. Is the title card you get at the end really that important? For me, for this first playthrough, I happily shot a few people while dodging between the pillars underground (hidden valley) and killed a guard for their uniform for protection from the snipers (at the gates). I wasn't playing the game like a third person shooter, but I was willing to murder a person or two for convenience. We can just accept that the title system is broken for this level and not let it bother us right?

2. Disguises don't work

While this isn't a traditional Hitman thing, its not like you're forced into enclosed spaces where a disguise is required to progress. With good movement, you can either just use distance, or time gaps in patrol routes to easily slip past any and all guards. Yeah, its annoying at first when you realise disguises are useless, but iteration is the name of the game in Hitman, and once you understand how it works its easy enough to work around it. Overall the level design actively facilitates this change in AI behaviour, and then goes back to normal once you reach Shogun Showdown.

3. Its not a real hitman level

I feel that this is probably the thing most at the heart of the hatred towards these levels. At this stage of Hitman, its stealth mechanics are still extremely rudimentary. Its started to spread its wings a bit, but its still primarily a puzzle game. So the slow and steady progress of picking paths through patrols, instead of the dense and interesting level design of, say, basement killing, doesn't feel very Hitman like. And while I agree that this isn't Hitman at its strongest, I quite enjoyed this emphasis on stealth mechanics over the puzzle mechanics.

Overall, compared to something like the Jungle levels from Codename 47, these levels were completely fine and functional. A bit buggy around the edges, but completely fine if you're not going for the SA ranking. And I stand by that, I genuinely didn't mind them.

But maybe I'm missing the plot. Let me know what you think.

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