Developer IO Interactive has launched the first new level for Hitman 2. The studio added the New York destination to the assassination simulator earlier this week. It introduces the Golden Handshake campaign mission, which takes place in a Wall Street bank.
Naturally, this introduces a lot of opportunities for Agent 47 to get into some heist-based hijinks (heist-jinks). But Golden Handshake is actually a great example of what makes Hitman 2 so wonderful. The game straddles a number of different tones, but none of them feel cheap or unearned. The action oscillates between slapstick and Val Kilmer in Heat. And it does so without effort.
In my time with Golden Handshake (you can watch some of that in the video above), I think a couple of moments really highlight that dynamic.
The IT crowd
Early on in my playthrough, I walked into a room covered in geeky posters. I knew where I was even before I found a pair of IT guys sitting in the corner playing Freedom Fighters and cursing at one another.
To take them down, I picked up one of the hamburgers they left sitting on a desk. I then finished them off with a giant sea bass I hid in my shirt. I also discovered that I could get access to the main target of the level by powering off the building’s Wi-Fi, dressing up as one of the IT guys, and going up to the office to fix it.
It was only after I put on the IT guy’s clothes that I noticed he was wearing clown shoes for some reason. I’m guessing this is a reference to television comedy The IT Crowd.
A few beats after my funny run in with the dorks, I found myself in a bank vault with the alarm going off. I grabbed the giant data tape that was crucial to my mission, but I had to drop it when some guards started rushing me so I could blast them with my shotgun.
After discovering that I could not use a nearby truck to escape because I didn’t have the keys, I decided to make a run for the front exit. The problem is that carrying around the giant data tape makes everyone in the world suspicious of you. Guards will begin shooting you on sight, for example.
Thankfully, I found a solution to this in a pair of concussive grenades. I took a staircase up to the side of the lobby. I found a corner where I could drop the data tape, pull out the flashbangs, and then toss them into a crowd of guards. This disoriented everyone long enough for me to slide past them and right out onto the street.
Comedy and tension
And this is why I love Hitman 2. It effortlessly moves between two extremes that complement one another. One moment you are beating up some nerds in the IT department. The next, you are shotgunning your way out of a bank vault and dropping concussive grenades into a crowd as an exit strategy.
The comedic moments don’t take anything away from the more intense and thrilling parts of a level. They instead act as crucial components in the stories players end up telling about their time in IO Interactive’s world of assassination.