Analysing the OTHER Missions in Hitman 2 (The Bank and Haven Island)


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70% off a 3 year plan with one extra month free. Just when I thought I was out, they pull me
back in. Producing that last video analysing every
mission in Hitman 2 felt like a fairly Herculean task, bringing closure to this thing hanging
over me with people constantly requesting a follow up to a video I made back in 2017. I finally get it done after spending months
playing each level countless times and writing and rewriting and rewriting my thoughts over
and over again, all in service of providing my final stance on all the missions available
in Hitman 2… only for them to announce and subsequently release one of two DLC maps a
week before I was set to publish the video. And what’s more, they are incredibly interesting
maps in their own right, so it’s not like I’m not going to do a further follow-up
video on them. This is never going to end, is it? In all seriousness, it speaks to just how
weird a thing Hitman 2 is. Here’s the unlikely sequel to a game that
was such a disappointment sales-wise that it was dropped by its publisher, with said
sequel also failing to meet sales expectations as the team simply couldn’t find a release
model that worked, and yet despite the multiple struggles on both a development and publisher
level to get this game out the door, the team’s output over at IO Interactive has only been
improving as time goes on. They really seem to show no signs of slowing
down, with a further sequel apparently well underway; but for the moment we have two maps
that offer genuinely intriguing possibilities for whatever future the series has, both in
terms of gameplay and, of all things, storytelling. And by storytelling, I don’t mean the transition
from still images to full blown, full motion cutscenes bookending each mission here. As always the overarching story behind everything
here is delightfully hokey and the idea that a game can now straight up change the way
it tells its story over time is kind of inherently wild to me, but I can’t help but feel that
something gets lost in the transition here. I dunno, it’s easy to look at still images
and immediately assume that it was only this way due to budget constraints, that no one
would ever choose to tell a story like this if they could fully animate it, but I don’t
think that’s necessarily the case. There’s something painterly to the way those
stills were composed—limiting scenes to a single shot meant every shot could get more
attention with bright, vibrant colours; charmingly contrasting the stylish, stark imagery with
the b-movie, cartoon villainy they actually depict. So no, it’s not the broad changes in storytelling
style I find particularly impressive here, especially considering it’s a story that
leaves almost nothing in the way of closure from the setup of the main game. What did impress me occurred almost immediately
upon entering the Milton-Fitzpatrick Bank with the goal of eliminating its manager fresh
in 47’s mind. Immediately taking a left turn from the downright
palatial main lobby, sneaking past security, I found myself in a distinctly unimpressive
grey corridor, the guards relegated to a pokey wee box for their break room. And it was here that I noticed the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it
dartboard with a picture of the very same manager I’d been sent to eliminate. Turns out, these guards hate her specifically
as much as anyone else. Of course, these little details about disgruntled
workers have been a part of many levels across these games, but rarely has the contrast between
the target and those tasked with protecting them felt as subtle or cohesive in a narrative
sense. Indeed, the structure of the bank makes it
so that every step forward, every new section uncovered feels like a gradual step further
into the belly of this particularly insidious beast. There are multiple options as to how you progress
through the level, but almost all of these options centralise on the manager’s office
on the top floor, meaning that regardless of how you wish to tackle the objective you’ll
find yourself experiencing some kind of progression from the lobby’s opulence through the cramped
and sometimes dingy quarters of the various service workers tucked away from the public
eye, up into the inner sanctum. Here, smiling faces act as a smokescreen hiding
this borderline warzone of a stock exchange, where visibly dishevelled bankers speak to
each other as if they were trapped behind enemy lines; desperately shuffling between
stacks of disorganised papers like sandbags in the trenches. The series has always flirted with themes
of greed and inequality (you know, there’s a reason almost everyone you go after is absurdly
rich), but by setting a level in a bank, it gives the developers and writers a chance
to dive headfirst into exploring the potentially dangerous power of wealth; directly juxtaposing
the cutthroat nature of the money business (in that the ominous tones with which you
hear these people discussing the fragility of their jobs often sounding like a life or
death situation) with the quite literal cutthroat nature of your business. In terms of the map itself, it’s the puzzle
box level design as seen in the Paris mansion from 2016’s game, where your main goal is
to work your way up through a central structure; except each playthrough of the map to me has
felt like the unveiling of a prescribed narrative. Rather than simply peppering an environment
with little worldbuilding tidbits here and there, this feels like level design as storytelling,
and I really don’t think I’ve seen a map as coherent in how it conveys its themes to
the player as the bank. What’s most impressive, however, is the
sheer variety of gameplay options available to you at every turn here, despite a design
that feels relatively linear from the outset. Thanks to the inclusion of a secondary objective
where you have to retrieve data from various individuals wandering different parts of the
bank before exiting, your job isn’t simply done when you eliminate your target. And given that this is a bank (a rather well-populated
one at that), getting the three targets alone and escaping unnoticed has proven to be one
of the more consistently difficult challenges presented in these more recent Hitman games. Fortunately for some, a further option is
available as things potentially move from Full Metal Wall Street to Heat, forcing you
to solve the puzzle of getting the bank vault open and hijacking the main data core yourself. However, my excitement at the prospect of
escaping a dangerous heist, carrying an illegal object in broad daylight, was dampened somewhat
upon the discovery that this data core can be stored in a briefcase. I’m not asking for some complicated crowd
control mechanics in this instance—the tension of being instantly noticed for choosing the
less complicated option here would have been enough; but instead, once you access that
room, you may as well have completed the level, exiting entirely without event. Rather than having to think up multiple different
approaches to eliminate each target separately, the heist approach feels like selecting easy
mode to a certain extent. That said, there are changes made to pre-existing
systems here that manage to give you more control over how you experience a level without
the need for too much technical upheaval. Stealing the disguise of a job interviewee,
for example, aside from providing one of the most overtly comedic mission stories in Hitman
2, has subtle implications for the rest of your mission here. My first time through, it was late and I didn’t
realise the stunningly easy solution to the questions staring me in my bleary-eyed face. I didn’t get the job, and so I was only
allowed to wander to a certain point, whereas completing the mission story gives you full
access to the upper floors. It’s a simple puzzle to be sure, but I like
the idea that what was once a pretty cut and dry system (you know, this disguise will get
you into these set areas) is now more flexible, with disguise privileges changing based on
how you interact with certain characters or scenarios. So there’s a lot to the bank—it tells
its story in a way few other maps can match, and offers incredibly varied gameplay to boot,
with certain approaches leading to some of the most tense scenarios throughout Hitman
as a whole with some playthroughs lasting upwards of an hour. After all that, I’m tired—I think it’s
time for a break. With that in mind, let’s join 47 in the
second of the two DLC maps, as he heads to the highly secluded island resort of Haven. Far from the storm ravaged rock that closed
out the base game, the island 47 and Lucas head to in order to eliminate the owners and
gain access to information on the Providence Partners is seemingly a paradise. And much like the leisurely vibe given off
as you set foot on the beach, Haven is arguably less focused than the puzzle box design of
the Bank map. It’s not necessarily a problem however—instead,
Haven is probably best described as a scaled-down version of the Colombia map, with several
distinct locations placed across its sizeable landmass; each with their own purpose and
challenges. Again, this is a map whose disparate targets
see even speedy playthroughs take substantially longer than most other environments (for me
at least). It’s kinda the best of both worlds, however,
with a story that, similar to the bank, directly engages with the misdeeds of the powerful—the
idea that they can just buy their way out of trouble and live it up in the process—while
also allowing you to commit various misdeeds yourself, luxuriating in your surroundings
as you go. It really feels like the conclusion to Hitman
2, a holiday for 47 even—a relaxing, if violent bookend as a reward of sorts for enduring
the tension of prior maps. It’s hard to really say much about it of
note, honestly, because the scenarios it does provide you seem to draw pretty heavily from
environments discussed in the prior videos—it’s just a really good, aesthetically pleasing
version of those maps. It does seem to go against what I loved about
my favourite maps from the base game, however—the idea that you can affect things on one end
of the map from the complete opposite point doesn’t really line up with how closed off
the mansion is compared to the other areas, for instance. But there’s just something I really like
about Haven as a level. I think it’s just the sheer amount of strange
detail lying just under the surface here. In a way, and this might sound odd but bear
with me, it reminds me of a final unlockable level in a Tony Hawk game—that weird offshoot
level where you go to space or unlock a Kiss concert or something. The amount of crazy stuff you can just happen
across while poking and prodding around the island goes beyond anything I can remember
from the base game, and is maybe the thing that has encouraged me to keep coming back—I
simply need to uncover all of this island’s secrets. But it’s not just the comedic little easter
eggs either, though—for the longest time I didn’t even realise, for example, that
there was a massive underground lab beneath the mansion. Multiple early playthroughs saw me miss it
entirely until I eventually stumbled into the bookcase concealing it completely by chance. And this isn’t some throwaway little feature
here—it’s as detailed as any of the other underground labs under the many mansions to
be found in Hitman. IO just seems to be at a point where they
don’t feel the need to draw your attention to it. It’s a level of care I can really respect—they
spend what I can only presume is a whole lot of time and resources creating this huge,
detailed environment, that most players might never even see. All in, this seems like the kind of end-of-season
blowout that, if they hadn’t basically confirmed a sequel to be in development, I would actually
read as a fairly grim omen for the future of the series; everything about it seems to
suggest a kind of “what have we got to lose” mentality. Instead, thankfully, it just reads as a real
show of confidence from a team that seems immensely comfortable in their abilities and
willing to take risks on a franchise they absolutely believe in. I’m so glad Hitman has a future at IO because
within these maps you can see incredible potential for where the series could go from here in
terms of how its systems can evolve to provide more varied challenges, how level design can
tell a story, and so on—all from a developer clearly working at their absolute prime. And speaking of being at your absolute prime,
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just $3.49 per month, is entirely risk free with a 30 day money back guarantee and really
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the video and I really hope you enjoyed this further piece on Hitman 2! I’d like to sincerely thank my patrons for
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29 Comments

  1. Hey! I really hope you enjoyed the video. These maps are really good as it turns out! If you liked the vid and want to see more (including ad-free, sponsor-free uploads of the videos), consider checking out the Patreon at http://patreon.com/writingongames – your generous pledges are what allow me to keep doing this. Thank you so much!

  2. I was literally just watching the hitman 1 video. I will however not watch this video right now because I'm currently playing through hitman 2 and have not yet gotten through the dlc maps. So I'll probably watch this tomorrow.

  3. I hate their monetization. I just want these 2 maps, without all the other bloat but sadly i can't buy them alone and it's a bit too pricey for me.

  4. Hey. Have you made any new podcast episodes since the one at 14:th of january?
    I can't find any after that one. Did you take break from it? Or am I missing something? :U

  5. i love hitman so much and it's relative lack of success compared to another way dumber franchise about assassins truly boggles my mind and depresses me.

  6. I know what you mean when you mention the disappointing heist option.
    Being a New York city bank I really wished there was a bigger reaction when you go loud. Why, when I break into the vault and open fire on security, is there no police response? If there was ever a map to have highly armed assailants be able to spawn in and try to take you out after going loud, it was this one.

  7. I just found this Channel, watched your Hitman 1 video and then Hitman 2 yesterday, I craved more.
    Hours later and I've got the content I subscribed for.

  8. I wish there was Mission failure conditions.
    Even if they were rare, like hilarious failures with collateral damage that would be unacceptable for a professional assassin .

  9. 6:43 There is the answer on the wall all the time?
    Man, you must be joking or I blindly missed that. Brb to boot it up again.

    Nice video analysis btw, how about the sniper challenge map?

  10. I was worried that in this game, there wouldn’t be enough vapid social commentary that blames the ills of an entire fanatical system on the greed of a few bad actors, rather than a network of unaccountable financial practices, and speculation without consequences…I mean it’s not like the banks were bailed out by taxpayers in 2008.

    JK – looks like Hitman is back on track.

  11. The only thing i disagree with is the cartoon villainy. I feel like it was actually way too close to home with Sgail honestly

  12. I love your Hitman videos. It’s clear you have a love for the franchise and a deep respect for the devs and you make a lot of good points about ways they can improve. That being said, I don’t find your argument about the cutscenes persuasive at all. Mocap is incredibly expensive and the painting-like quality to the stills, while evocative, still feels like IO’s best option for a much reduced budget after being dropped by their last studio. You can’t have the games without some sort of exposition delivery system and this seems like the best compromise between a fully animated scene and a wall of text.

  13. I think the bank map is the best map. It feels like the old games with 1 target and maybe an objective. I like the new games, but I get overwhelmed sometimes taking on 2-3 targets per map.

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