The first episode of Hitman gave us a nice sized playground during a fashion show to carry out our mission, and Episode 2, titled “Sapienza”, ups the ante by giving us an even bigger playground. This time the action moves from Paris to the seaside Italian town of Sapienza. Once again, the environments are rendered beautifully, and the town itself presents plenty of opportunities to take out your targets, a pair working on a deadly virus that hones in on a specific person’s DNA. Doing so takes you not only throughout the town but also through a large mansion and an underground lab. Again the game gives you a fair amount of freedom on how to accomplish your mission. And that freedom makes for a lot of fun.
Just wandering about the town to get the lay of the land, plus take note of the people inhabiting it, is a joy. It wasn’t long that opportunities began to present themselves. I could take the place of a new cook starting at the mansion. Or impersonate a funeral home worker. There was even the chance to impersonate a psychiatrist. Changing disguises at will was often a breeze, though a misstep here or there can get you noticed in a hurry. And that does present again an issue with this series so far- that security guards seem to have a preternatural sense as to what you’re up to. They seem to pick up actions that occur out of their sight lines, and things that shouldn’t really be crimes get labeled as such, often provoking a deadly response. For example, at one point I needed to wake up a sleeping detective. I walked around the corner where there was a radio, and simply turned it on, then walked away. Suddenly this made me a hunted man. I know this is a videogame and not real life, but such things seem to happen just to artificially introduce danger, when there is already plenty present in the game.
That artificially induced danger breaks the immersion a little bit. The other thing I wish Io Interactive would have put into this game is conversation options, to give you some way to respond to guards and others who react to your presence. It would add another layer to the game, and give another option to turning violent in situations where it possibly could have been avoided. Fortunately, the game does give you plenty of ways to stay stealthy, and it rewards the patient assassin and can be punishing to the more impulsive one. You have plenty of means to dispatch your targets, whether you go loud with a gun or explosion, or keep quiet and smother them with a pillow. Hiding bodies is as always key to keeping alarms to a minimum. Jumping from disguise to disguise is often a fun way to avoid detection, save those with a white dot above them, as they will recognize that you’re an imposter rather quickly. This makes some areas a game of hide and seek, popping into cover and then moving on when the coast is clear. Despite the seeming supernatural senses of guards (who at other times have all the sense of a rock) the tension is kept high, and it’s always satisfying when a plan goes well.
A cut scene after the completion of your mission advances the overall story, which is still a bit murky and yet at the same time has me intrigued. The game plays smoothly for the most part (only had one minor instance of frame rate slowdown) and looks and sounds great. The multiple ways to take your targets makes for a lot of fun, and adds replayability to the episodes. Meeting all of the mission challenges is rewarding, and post mission you can go through again, altering your starting point or your equipment load out. You also have the Escalation mode and community challenges to help tide you over until the next episode comes out. “Sapienza” took things a step up from “Paris”, giving us a bigger environment to play in and a bigger mission to accomplish. Hopefully that trend will continue, and keep players eagerly waiting for the next installment.
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