Hitman Episode 2: Sapienza Review - A Tropical Vacation

My hands were sweating. Profusely. After an hour of carefully planning my attack, it was the moment of truth. My strategy involved rat poison, the catacombs of a chapel, and a secret door in the basement of a mansion. Things had worked out to perfection. Sadly, towards the end of my mission, I was uncovered and subsequently killed. After a couple of minutes marked by heartbreak and disappointment, I restarted and finished 47's quest using an entirely different approach. That's when it hit me: this might be the best Hitman level ever made.

As you might know, this new Hitman game is being released with an episodic structure. As soon as it was announced, the Internet exploded with fans criticizing the design choice. Quite honestly, I was one of them. Now, I never publicly revealed my disapproval, but I just didn't understand why they couldn't wait and release everything at once. And while I still have a minor problem with it, you will not hear me complain if the upcoming levels are as robust as Sapienza.

The first aspect  I want to talk about is the location. For episode 2, Agent 47 travels to the (fictitious) Italian town of Sapienza. Straight up, this has to be one of the most dense, well realized open world maps I've ever seen. It is beautiful, sun-drenched and full of things to do. Your main objectives are all located in a mansion, but you could spend hours exploring the map. A gelato store, the penthouse of a tower in which a hippy smokes an unhealthy amount of marijuana, A maze of alleys filled with shops and apartments, a gorgeous church, etc. You truly get lost in the atmosphere. Eventually, it's time for you to return to your mission, and that's where it gets interesting.

To an extent, I wasn't expecting a lot of choice. Many contemporary games promote themselves as adventures that allow you to complete operations in any way you desire. In reality, the choices are minimal and extremely superficial. That is not the case here. Your assignment is to assassinate two targets and destroy the virus they were working on. From there, it's all up to you. Each target is located in a separate part of the map, and the combinations in which you can tackle the challenge are endless. Do you fancy to snipe them from afar? Disguise yourself as security? Go in through an underground tunnel? It's your decision. I'm also a big fan of the 'Opportunities' mechanic. As you explore the site, you can overhear people talking about the targets. Depending on what they say, a new opening shows up, and you find an alternative way to complete your deadly goals. This encourages you to explore every inch of the delightful villa, and of course, it heavenly increases replayability.

As far as negatives, the story is the only issue that stuck out to me. Because of the gameplay, and the episodic release schedule, it feels like there isn't much to the plot. You know who the villain is, but there hasn't been a lot of character development. In this episode, there's a single cutscene around the end of the experience. While the franchise has never been known for complex tales, I expected more meat to the bone. Not a fan of half assed stories. To be honest, I would much rather for them to completely ignore the story element and focus solely on these fun, huge playgrounds. We'll see if my opinion changes as the content keeps dropping;but so far, the narrative is nothing to brag about.

Verdict: Sapienza is one of the most clever Hitman levels I've ever played. The humongous, heavy map is the perfect background for a captivating mission that will have you hooked for hours to come.

The Good
- Incredible Environment
- Many Ways to Complete Your Objectives
- Replayability

The Bad
- Story is Lacking

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