Best Stealth Game: Hitman 2

Hitman 2 brought one of our favorite series back to PC in arguably its best ever form. Find the rest of our GOTY awards here.

Samuel: It makes me happy that IO Interactive is still making murder puzzles on this scale, with this much detail, in 2018. Hitman 2's levels are best-in-class sandboxes that can take hours for their full potential to unlock—and while this game's selection of locations is a little conventional by the series' standards, they're still tons of fun. Plus you can download its predecessor's levels inside the new game. Warring with Phil over the leaderboards has been a highlight of 2018 for me. How the hell did he do Hawke's Bay in under two minutes? Unbelievable. At least I kicked his ass in Miami. As soon as I worked out how to kill one target with the other, the number one spot was mine.

Phil: The trick, Sam, is to attempt things that you're almost certain won't work, because sometimes you get lucky and look really clever. (Luckily the leaderboards don't track all the times it went very, very wrong.) Our assassination competition has done wonders for my appreciation of Hitman 2, though, and I already liked the game a lot. Many of the safest, most reliable ways to kill your target are also relatively slow, and so competing for high scores has forced me to reassess levels that I thought I knew incredibly well—finding new routes and opportunities, and seizing them as stealthily and efficiently as possible. And when I'm tired of shaving seconds off my times, I still enjoy just being in the environments, trying to figure out the many unique and often quite funny ways you can kill each target. It's Groundhog Day as a stealth puzzler, where one attempt you'll be sublime, and the next you'll be ridiculous—with no consequences beyond a great (or terrible) score at the end.

I'm glad that IO have brought back elusive targets, too. Having just one attempt to take down your target adds an extra level of tension that's missing from the missions proper. Even actions that I've performed hundreds of times before, on levels that I know incredibly well, feel risky and dangerous, because if I mess up, there's no going back. 

Andy K: This isn’t much of a leap from the 2016 reboot, and I don’t care. All I wanted was some more great levels, and maybe a couple of tweaks, and that’s exactly what IO delivered. A few of these elaborate, detailed puzzle-boxes are among the best in the series, and finding ways to game the systems to kill your targets is as compelling as ever.

Fraser: I’ve only played a couple of Hitman 2’s new missions, technically, and it’s still my favourite stealth game of 2018. See, all of the previous Hitman levels have been remastered with the Hitman 2 bells and whistles, so I’ve been playing through the whole thing, 1 and 2, mixing up the old with the new. It’s been great, giving me a chance to take paths I’d ignored before, all with the benefit of these new additions. Now I’m delving into the new missions, and I’m not even remotely burned out.

Here's Phil's original review of Hitman 2, and here's the origin of Phil and Sam's leaderboard war.

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