As the sun meanders into the middle of the sky I feel it’s searing heat strike me from what had been a relatively safe haven beneath the tree in the main courtyard of town. I had been to Sapienza before, a long time ago. I can’t remember why I was here or how much time I had spent here but the smell in the air filled me with a feeling of déjà vu, something about this place that made me feel like I knew it. The people were vastly unlike Paris. Simple, hardworking, honest townsfolk who would never suspect the targets or their motives. Much like myself they had been very professional in their methods and covering their tracks in town. Silvio Caruso was a man born with a paranoia that couldn’t be matched. It’s a shame that his paranoia won’t be saving him this time… or ever again.
So here we are, my first DLC post which is a bit of an achievement for me as the slot for that has been wide open for a while. Episode 2 of IO Interactives HITMAN released 26th April 2016 takes place in the coastal location of Sapienza, a sleepy rural location vastly different from the fashion shows of Paris which is refreshing. The targets and objectives have also varied and the methods that worked for you last time may not be so sneaky this time around.
I’m not going to say spoilers present with the story here because if you’re reading a review for Episode 2 it’s fair to assume you either played episode 1 or you at the very least know what went down at Viktor’s fashion show in Paris! So, after the end of Episode 1 we saw the reveal of a mystery man who had pulled the strings of Viktor and then arranged the ICA (that means your bald head and Dianna) to cover his tracks. So going into this I instantly have questions which bug me, who is this guy and what is his game plan? Why use the ICA? Does he know 47?! The adventures of everyone’s favourite bald mass murderer though have picked up in Italy, in the town of Sapienza where the targets Silvio Caruso and his main lab lead Francesco de Santis are Walter whiting it up in the sun, only this couple of breaking bad wannabes aren’t cooking meth but an experimental new DNA bomb for the highest bidder… nobody ever wants to just bake cookies and relax anymore… but I suppose cookie salesmen make for lousy assassination targets. As with last time we don’t have a huge deal on the targets just that they are up to no good and we must take them out. To be honest this disappoints me a little. Since when did 47 (absolution aside) care about eliminating the bad guys. He’s meant to be cold, stoic, all business with no investment in the politics of it all. I suppose he still is at heart but this ICA working for MI6 in Paris and now a ‘lawful business’ in Sapienza is just a little bit … strange.
Sapienza does offer a bit more of actual in mission story to it than Paris did though, for the method I chose to run this in I followed the story of a scientist who had been killed by mistake while working on the Virus underground. It covered how he had died because of the mistakes and carelessness of another scientist and showed the mission to have more on offer than just, kill bad guy, agent 47 gets a cookie in the end which is kind of how I felt with a lot of the methods in Paris. I’ll cover more on that when looking at gameplay though. The story for Sapienza as a collective is strong though and shows that IO were making improvements as the series continues onward. The end scene with the Mystery man again is really getting me going. I both love and hate these end sequences for the game, for the love part it’s a beautiful piece of cinematography in these cut scenes, they’re so well shot and gorgeously rendered that it reminds me of watching a hi budget CGI movie rather than a few minutes of cut scene in a game. That’s where the disliking comes in. they’re so god damn short, there just isn’t enough to get my teeth into in each instalment and I know, they are that way on purpose, it’s supposed to create tension and keep you questioning the contents and what’s going on behind the scenes but I just feel it’s not enough. Not asking for a huge deal more but just something more about what is going on because the story for the in game and the cut scenes just feel a little detached at the moment. It may be that I’m just being harsh after only two episodes. We will have to wait and see.
ok so the stuff we are all here for, the gameplay! Sapienza has a lot to offer with this, as I said before the methods available seem to be more open and plentiful and some of the stuff you get up to in episode 2 really throws it back to the old days of HITMAN (something I mentioned I was after in episode 1) to start with the map is larger than Paris so you’ll get more freedom to move around and explore this time which is great as 47 doesn’t seem like the kind of guy that likes to be confined in any way. As the bulk of the map is outdoors as well and features sunlight you’ll be noticing certain aspects of the game more such as player and object shadows, lighting, and dynamic lighting with certain sources. Sapienza captures that gorgeous rural town look beautifully with the cobbled streets and old styled buildings while at its core showing it’s also a modern town with items such as laptops, TVs, and modern cars all over the place. I’m going to talk about two methods that I used to kill the target (I mean the first target Silvio as in both times I killed the scientist the same way) as this is the target with the most diversity in approach tactics. Firstly, we’ll look at the stealthy option because nothing says 47 like appearing from thin air to slay the target and vanishing without a trace. For this I used one of the opportunities to get close to Silvio. Early on you will be able to overhear a confession about a scientist who has accidentally caused the death of her friend (I mentioned this chick earlier) she’s your best ticket in. in her guilt-ridden state she exposes that the body of the dead scientist has yet to be examined and is currently housed in the city morgue. Now it’s not the dead guy we want but the woman. She has an access dongle in her possession that will allow us to get to the virus later. In following this you’ll get to see one of my favourite parts of the Sapienza episode in action and what I believe to be a wonderful throwback to blood money! In the morgue, right before the body you’ll find an empty coffin that you will need to hide in to let the doctor pass into the room with the body. When I did this, and saw 47 just lying there pretending to be dead I thought it was so cool. It was incentive and that’s exactly what I want n a good hitman game, to be creative in your approach and be rewarded for that!
Once you have subdued the doctor and made it into the mansion you’ll be able to acquire a VHS tape (sadly not a murder weapon because that would have been too fun let’s be honest) that you can use to distract the target in large room downstairs. You’ll feel good using this as the film on the VHS is 47 ways to make you mine 😊 too bad the VHS isn’t the only 47 he’d be witnessing that day. Once you’ve eliminated Silvio by using the tape and have dispatched the scientist friend you can promptly go below and destroy the virus. Once you’ve done this you will need to be careful as security is armed and will arrive VERY quickly. Best option here is to escape using the sea plane right outside the virus location (because apparently those guns were for show and security won’t shoot your plane to hell escaping the scene). If you’re looking for something a little less… subtle… then the new episode also has you covered with (you couldn’t make this up if you tried) an exploding golf ball! That’s right you are granted the opportunity to give Silvio that explosive tee shot he has always been after. Now after my complaints in episode 1 about a lack of creativity in killing the target the games really ramped it on here with this one. Execution is simple enough you simply have to acquire the ball, make your way into the house and plant it, and wait for the literal fireworks as Silvio strikes a hole in one for the last time ever. This one requires less leg work than the previous attempt but is arguably more enjoyable for the pure excessive nature of it!
Episode 2 has been a great step forward for me, its show that IO at the time were considering feedback from the fans and have a great sense of where they want this series to go. The clip at the end of the episode doesn’t really give a lot away again other than the Mystery man has a hidden agenda we haven’t seen anything for yet and that 47 is key to its fruition I assume. Gameplay wise its more of the same from episode 1 mechanically but what’s on offer for creativity is certainly more substantial. It’s still not my cup of tea this episodic nonsense for HITMAN but I feel it’s not as bad as I thought it was going to be with episode 2, great showcase of the engines power with lighting this time around and AI got a better show too with some more complex guard routes. Hoping to see more improvements in the next Episode in Marrakesh so until then let me know what you think about this one. Are you into the episodic nature, think the story at this stage is strong or do you find it lacking? As always thanks guys!