Back in March, I levied the criticism that Hitman’s first DLC offering wasn’t strong enough to compete with other A-grade titles out in the market. Two months later we arrive at Episode 2: Sapienza – a sprawling utopia of a game that conceals the customary Agent 47 mass murder and destruction. The question is, is it any good?
Game Name: Hitman: Episode 2
Platform(s): Playstation 4, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows
Publisher(s): Square Enix
Developer(s): IO Interactive
Release Date: 26/4/2016
Considering the first episode was something of an origins tale, episode 2 is no-holds-barred cavalcade of exploration, pitting Agent 47 against two shady scientists working on a hazardous virus that could plunge the world into darkness. While the scenario with your employers (the ICA) becomes increasingly more dubious – you’ll ultimately forget the overarching narrative, enjoying the good old fashion Bond-like espionage as you quest to destroy the deadly disease.
Sapienza proves to be a larger map than the Parisian prelude, housing a variety of diverse locations that range from tense close-quarters to long stretches of empty street. Unlike the confinements of the French fashion show, this variety in location means you’re given more opportunity to express yourself creatively – you can now run down long stretches of the map without alerting anyone, you can interact with a number of witty set pieces that seem to be happening independently to the main action and you can use Agent 47’s wonderful knack of playing dress-up to execute some of the series’ most thrilling assassinations. That said, you still must behave yourself when surrounded by a large number of NPC’s or you risk engaging the games’ shoddy gunplay, still one of the series overall weak points.
The art direction here is impeccable, reminding me of the early dream sequences in BioShock Infinite. The colours are bright and vivid, with IO Interactive opting to swap the dark and salubrious Paris nightclub for a more painterly representation of city streets, sweeping ocean vistas, graveyard, golf course and bio-lab. While the control scheme and general gameplay are identical to that of episode 1, the map is much improved. At the time I thought I liked having hundreds of NPC’s on screen at once, however I now think a more spacious approach allows for better paced gameplay, more methodical putdowns and plenty of streetside carnage.
There isn’t too much more to say about Hitman Episode 2: Sapienza, other than it’s more of the same repackaged in a way that favours a different type of player. If you found the previous episode too quick to complete then you may have more joy here – this open world map takes far longer to traverse. If you don’t enjoy taking your time and prefer to go in all guns a’ blazing then I think the questionable gunplay and shoddy NPC animations means you should probably look into a different title altogether.
Having now played several hours of this new Hitman DLC I think I can whole-heartedly recommend waiting for the full disc copy, which will arrive later this year. The games are both entertaining and challenging but are over far too quickly. You’d have to be someone with a lot of spare time on their hands if you think you’ll be replaying this over and over, it’s a once or twice (max) type of game – best enjoyed in a full dose when the retail version hits the shelves.
Overall I think Hitman: Episode 2 continues to fuel the nostalgia trip of Blood Money with its wonderful variety of locations. Episode 2 pushes IO Interactive’s creative boundaries a bit further and spaces out all of the games’ action (the complete opposite to the Parisian prelude which hit our screens back in March). Sadly the narrative is non-existent and the animations are still shoddy when compared to other A-grade titles – however those aren’t huge criticisms for a game of this nature. I think Hitman is best enjoyed in one full go later on in the year when the retail version is released. It’s proving to be a fun, yet brief adventure. I look forward to seeing what direction the series is taken in for episode 3.