Over the next few days, we will reveal what we believe are the ten best games of 2018, organized by release date. Then on December 19, we will reveal which of the nominees gets to take home the coveted title of GameSpot's Game of the Year. So be sure to come back then for the big announcement, and in the meantime, follow along with all of our other end-of-the-year coverage collected in our Best of 2018 hub.
Your target is Sierra Knox, who, among other things, helped her father's technology company supply equipment used to kill civilian protesters. On this day, she's participating as a race car driver. You stealthily infiltrate her race team, aware of the opportunity to sabotage her car during a pit stop. But when the moment comes, you realize you lack the needed tool to do so, and so this particular chance slips by. When presented with the opening, you instead opt to take her out by shooting her. Or disguising yourself in a giant pink mascot costume and pushing her down an elevator shaft when you meet her under the guise of being a blackmailer. Or by throwing a briefcase that inexplicably and hilariously flies through the air to its designated target. Such is life in Hitman 2.
Like its predecessor, Hitman 2 can be many things to many people. The variety of possible approaches allows for wildly different experiences. You might opt for a more head-on plan that involves killing anyone who gets in your way. Maybe you use the briefcase for its intended purpose and sneak in a sniper rifle to take your target out from a distance. Or perhaps you opt for something far more elaborate: Discover the use of a high-powered fan in a movie shoot, recover and deliver a missing script to the crew so filming can continue, and then rig the fan to blow your target off the roof once the cameras are rolling. (It made for great footage, the film's producer concedes in a private phone call afterward.) It all sounds sadistic on paper, but with Hitman 2, developer IO Interactive has continued to hone its comedy chops by instilling a sense of humor into so many of your actions and every corner of the map.
And it's the maps that are the real highlight in Hitman 2. While you could certainly find a critical path that involves minimizing the time spent and distance covered in reaching your targets, Hitman 2's levels are dense and reward your willingness to explore. This is true not just of the hot zones surrounding those you are tasked to kill, but the entire map; it feels like there's a reason for each level to be as big it is, and it's not just to prevent the play area from feeling cramped.
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Ultimately, that's what Hitman 2 is all about--not a single playthrough, but treating it as the replayable toy box that it is.
Whittleton Creek, for instance, presents you with a small chunk of a suburban town filled with houses to explore. Some are directly tied to your goals, but others are worth exploring to see what other tools, stories, or intel you might find. What's this, a secret door in the basement of an otherwise nondescript home? It might not be of immediate use, but it's worth filing that knowledge away for a future run.
Ultimately, that's what Hitman 2 is all about--not a single playthrough, but treating it as the replayable toy box that it is. You repeatedly shake up your chosen approach and the tools at your disposal to poke, prod, and explore the many potential avenues for completing your objective. Hitman 2 is masterfully designed to allow for each successive run to be a satisfying experience, and welcome gameplay refinements (such as the addition of tall grass to hide in and working mirrors that can reveal your position) make the action better than ever. And if the terrific debut Elusive Target mission starring Sean Bean is any indication, the game's post-launch support will only continue to further elevate an already great game.