Kris Wall reviews Hitman Episode 2: Sapienza…
Welcome to Italy, 47. Episode 2 of the new Hitman sees Agent 47 dropped into Sapienza, a town on the gorgeous Italian coast. 47 is tasked with eliminating Silvio Caruso, a bio engineer working for Ether Biotech Corporation. Formerly celebrated for his stem cell research, Caruso has now been overseeing the development of a DNA based bio-weapon, a virus able to infect anyone, anywhere in the world. For good measure, 47 also needs to take out Caruso’s lab head, Francesca De Santis, who holds enough knowledge to continue work on the virus in Caruso’s absence. The final part of this new contract requires the virus itself to be destroyed before it can be completed. All in a days work for our favourite assassin.
At first glance, Sapienza feels a lot smaller than Paris, but spend just a small amount of time exploring this seemingly intimate new setting and you’ll Sapienza is another delight in level design and freedom of approach in this series, with many already saying that Sapienza is one of the best levels we’ve yet seen in a Hitman game, and it’s hard to argue once you start to dig into it. The quaint little town where 47 begins the mission, decked out in a fancy white shirt looking like the most stylish of holidaymaker assassins, Sapienza is full of cobbled little backstreets, populated stores and homes to break into for various disguises, there’s a church and morgue area which leads down to a beach and around to an old abandoned fort out on the peninsula. The main bulk of the level is built around a sprawling, multi tiered mansion complex that houses Caruso and the virus development, it’s essentially the closest a Hitman game has come to replicating a Bond villain hideout, and its great fun to explore.
I don’t want to spoil too much because all of the fun of a Hitman game comes from just exploring these layouts and discovering opportunities and moments for yourself, but there’s just so many cool and creative ways for 47 to infiltrate the mansion and carry out the mission that you’ll find yourself coming back to Sapienza time and time again. During my pretty chaotic first two playthroughs, I managed to disguise and impersonate everyone from a garden worker and ice cream parlour staff, to a Hazmat worker and even a priest, though try as I might, trying to finish the level as a murderous priest delivering the deathly message of the lord always seemed to find me getting shot to death. Still an incredibly fun time though !
The great thing about the work IO is doing with these levels is that unless you stick rigidly to and tried and tested formula, no two plays of these levels should ever be the same. The moment to moment situations that can suddenly arise are a huge part of what makes the Hitman games such a fun and rewarding experience. In one minute you could be faking being a corpse in an open coffin to hide in plain sight, then imitating a dastardly golf instructor replete with exploding golf balls in the next, and then setting up ‘accidental’ catastrophic failures as a lab assistant after that. There’s just so much creativity and experimentation to be had here that it’s still had to believe this is just a single location again. To help new players along, Sapienza also comes with ten new ‘opportunities’ to focus your aims a bit, as before I would recommend using it once to learn the layout of Sapienza, before going it without the assist for real challenge.
As with the previous episode in Paris, there’s a whole host of new contracts and escalation challenges. Most notable of all though is easily The Sarajevo Six content, which is exclusive to PlayStation 4 owners. These are 6 bonus contracts that tell a self-contained side story revolving around former members of a paramilitary unit called CICADA. Agent 47 is traveling the world in pursuit of these targets, with one showing up in each new location. The first of which, Gary Lunn, dubbed ‘The Enforcer’ shows up here in Sapienza. I’m definitely enjoying the evolving world that IO are creating with this new Hitman, the game was marketed on the tagline ‘Enter a world of assassination’, and it’s definitely something you get a feeling of when these side contracts seamlessly integrate into Agent 47’s main missions, the idea that there’s a much larger world in play here.
There’s also another huge drop of mission accomplishments for you to achieve, spread across the Assassination, Discovery and Feats categories. Some of the assassination challenges in Sapienza are wildly inventive, challenging 47 to take down targets using antique cannons, garden shredders or in lab accidents. If ever your murderous imagination was to run dry, and it really, really shouldn’t given the environment and the tools at your disposal, then these new challenges will be sure to inject a little creativity into your next play-through.
IO have struck gold again with episode 2 of Hitman, a single location rewarding hours upon hours of gameplay, constantly challenging you to explore and discover new and ever more creative ways to take out your targets and accomplish the mission. I would say it’s going to be a long and painful wait until episode 3 arrives, but Sapienza is a complete and utter delight from start to repeated finish, an absolute masterpiece in level design from IO, and the highlight of this Hitman package so far. If the episodes get even better from here on out, we’re going to be witnessing something truly special.
+Sapienza is a masterpiece of level design
+ Rewards repeat plays
+ Challenges. So many challenges !
+ Sarajevo Six : Enforcer content
+ Looks great
– Load times are still painfully long
You can read my review for HITMAN Episode 1: Paris here
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