Hello! And welcome to the inaugural post of Art’s Quick Hitters, where I post a rapid reaction to a game I’m playing. Also, the inaugural post of Art Cop Vandelay at all!
So, the purpose is two fold:
Purpose the first is I want to finally post something because I really care about this place and I want to contribute something. Whether that’s met with angry indifference is another matter. On that note, if anyone does happen to read any of this (and I wouldn’t blame you if you didn’t) any suggestions/tips on technical and formatting things would be appreciated. Anyway, I’ve thought of/threatened to post something a number of times and this is just me diving in.
Purpose the second is I like games and I wish to subject people to my opinions. But, I don’t have the time to devote to providing timely reviews. Or the patience to stick with one game for the required number of hours to give a nuanced and thoughtful review.
I CAN give you a rapid reaction though!
So, here it goes!
HITMAN 2: THE FIRST 3 LEVELS
(or 4 depending on how you count it)
Despite the embarrassing number of unfinished games in my backlog I recently picked up Hitman 2 on my PC. I’ll assume anyone who’s bothering to click on this is already familiar with the series, but if not, you dress up in various disguises (which I’ll touch on later) and kill people in unique and interesting ways.
All level reviews are done after finishing all story missions, all mastery levels, and at least one Escalation mission.
The first level in the last two iterations of the series have been something of a training level. Hitman 2 doesn’t have as many of these tutorial things, but Hawke’s Bay is finer than anything the first game had:
You’re allowed free reign of the house until you want to pull the mission trigger so it allows you to get familiar with the controls and systems until you think you’re ready. And the imposition of a tincey-wincey time pressure once you do makes for a much more interesting level than the slog that the Cuba finale was from the first game.
The Challenges (optional challenges that reward for completing certain activities) are more on point too, and I felt required you to get more familiar with the game’s systems. I think if a player came out of the training level having completed all or most of the side missions you’d be in a solid place to understand the game.
The Escalation (a change up in the target usually, accompanied by 3 increasingly more complicated or difficult escalations of the mission) is also spooky fun.
The first “real” level is Miami and true to the last game it is a ticking clock situation. See, certain story missions and challenges require characters to be in certain places at certain times. And this mission takes place at a fucking racetrack
Miami is a tightly constructed level that doesn’t feel sprawling, but nonetheless has lots of different areas to explore, from the race pits to a robotics lab to an aquarium in the convention center. But the relevance of each area may change depending on the level’s clock, which keeps you on your toes and moving. Also, this latest iteration of Hitman is at its best when it can deftly combine the silly with the serious and Miami is a great example of that.
Miami has two official targets and their associated challenge assassinations are pretty fun. Why are we assassinating them? Um, I’ll be honest, I don’t really know. But dammit they are highlighted as targets and assassinating is my jam!
Miami is in most ways my favorite level of the ones I’ve played. Like I said it is tightly constructed and no area seems superfluous. The side challenges are fun, the mission stories are interesting, and some are a bit difficult. My only grouse would be that because it takes place within a contained area you don’t get much natural beauty of the area, but that’s not much to complain about.
Next, is Santa Fortuna, a fictional location in Columbia. Guys, we need to talk about this level.
Hitman has gone to non-majority white locations before. But when it went to places like Japan, Morocco, and Thailand it set the level in a context where a powerfully built, devastatingly handsome, and distractingly bald white guy might have at least a reasonable chance of blending in.
Not so in Santa Fortuna. It is essentially a backwater berg where three drug-cartel members are holed up. While there are some non-white characters sprinkled throughout the level, the majority of characters aren’t white, and certainly not Agent 47’s particular brand of paleness. So it is especially jarring when he can so deftly become anyone just by putting on a different shirt. The concept of race is an unavoidable part of our actual reality, and it feels artificial not to have a game that means to mimic real life in many respects not acknowledge that fact. Yet this dude can just stroll into a random place in Columbia and seamlessly blend in. And I’ve got to say the whole burial site/construction site missions were most unfortunate. Basically this white dude is coming in and metaphorically shitting all over indigenous culture once again.
Setting aside all that (if you can) the level is another winner. I don’t think it is as well constructed as Miami, but it works well. You’ve got village, coca fields, underground sub construction liars and more. The Challenge missions are fun and exciting and there are some peripheral characters that provide some much needed character to the proceedings. The Escalation mission I played meant I was always attracting attention and actually using some of the heavy-duty weapons you wouldn’t otherwise use. It’s not quite as fun as Miami and is a whole lot more self-serious but I still enjoyed it.
So the next level takes place in the *checks notes* slums of Mumbai?
Look, I get this is a fantasy game about murdering people, but what the fuck? The slums of Mumbai and this motherfucker is supposed to be able to seamlessly blend in? REALLY??
I haven’t completed the parameters of Mumbai to actually give a reaction but I’m not really feeling these last two levels on a certain level. It is especially jarring when I’m introduced to this level with 47 in his “Imperial Classic”.
At any rate, here’s my quick hitter. I hope you enjoyed it and I welcome any feedback. What do you think about the levels? What do you think about the game? What do you think about Art Cop? No seriously, do you like me?