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

Hey, guys! I Host
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Recap podcast. Every two weeks we play classic games from the past, and then have an in-depth discussion/assessment to determine if they have truly stood the test of time.

About a year ago, we were playing Hitman: Code 47, and we both had a bad time. While the concept was compelling, the execution was terrible, and outside of the two main levels (Tradition of Trade and Li Hong), the missions ranged from mediocre to downright awful.

We returned to the series with the promise that improvements had been made. And the amount of changes is staggering, far more than you’d expect from a single iteration. It was a mgs2>mgs3 level jump, not just another item that looks more like the same thing. But is it enough to expand the scope of mechanics? Or is there something fundamentally wrong in those early Hitman games?

Watch the episode here!

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Thanks for listening!

For those who don’t have the time or inclination to listen, let me address what was probably the biggest point of contention between my host and myself during the discussion. This is the infamous level in Japan, which many consider to be the worst in the game: Hidden valley and by the door. My co-host hated them.

I don’t think they’re that bad.

I don’t think they are masterpieces, or even in my top 10 to play, but I think they are functional stealth levels. And it’s hard for me to understand the hatred I still feel for her. Here are the reasons people hate them, and my reactions.

1. Get the Silent Assassin destroyed on these levels.

Very good. Levels that are so flawed that the AI dies because a truck runs over them would be incredibly frustrating. But how important is it really? It’s just a random ranking that works almost like an NG+ system. Is the title card you get at the end really that important? As for me, on that first breakthrough I cheerfully shot several people dodging between the basement pillars (hidden valley) and killed a guard for his sniper uniform (near the door). I wasn’t playing the game as a third person shooter, but I was willing to kill a person or two for convenience. Can we just accept that the cup system doesn’t work at this level and not really care?

2. The cover-up isn’t working.

While it’s not a traditional Hitman, it’s also not like you’re thrust into a small room where you need a disguise to progress. With good movement, you can just use the spacing or distances on the patrol paths to easily get past all the guards. Yes, it’s annoying at first when you realize the disguises are useless, but iteration is the name of the game in Hitman, and once you figure out how it works, it’s pretty easy to get around. In general, the level design actively encourages a change in the AI’s behavior, then returns to normal when you reach Shogun Showdown.

3. That’s not a real lethal level.

I think that’s probably the most important thing about hating these levels. At this point in Hitman, the stealth mechanics are still very primitive. It’s starting to spread its wings a bit, but it’s still mostly a puzzle game. So the slow and steady progression of choosing paths through the patrols rather than the tight and interesting level design of, say, a basement murder, doesn’t suit Hitman. And while I agree that it’s not the strongest Hitman game, I really liked the emphasis on stealth mechanics rather than puzzle mechanics.

Overall, these levels were quite decent and functional compared to something like the jungle levels in Codename 47. A little buggy around the edges, but perfectly adequate if you’re not looking for an SA rating. And I support that, I really have nothing against them.

But maybe I don’t understand the plot. Let me know what you think.

2020 will satisfy both classic and modern players. To be on the list, the game must be confirmed for 2020, or there must be a compelling reason for it to be released that year. Upcoming games that are only announced and do not have a major release date are therefore not eligible.

By 2020, there will be a ton of… in the world of video games. Here are fifteen games to look forward to in the first half of 2020.

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