Episode 2 of Hitman begins in the center of the small fictional Italian town of Sapienza, with Agent 47 reading a newspaper on a bench. This sets the tone for what will be a far more low-key endeavor than the previously released Paris mission. Sapienza is a beautiful seaside town, full of gorgeous houses and small cafes. Agent 47’s mission is to infiltrate a villa and stop a deadly virus from being manufactured by the Ether Corporation. Two targets must be eliminated, as well as the virus itself.
World of Tomorrow, the main mission in episode 2, feels far larger and more detailed than The Showstopper, with a giant villa to explore as well as the entire town in which it resides. A lot of time can be spent exploring outside the villa, as it is filled with storefronts, cafes, and plenty of interesting people to observe. It is not uncommon to come across somebody having a phone conversation or ordering lunch at a cafe, which really makes the town feel alive.
I played through World of Tomorrow roughly six or seven times, attempting something new each time. Traversing the world will once again yield “opportunities” which can be used to infiltrate the villa in disguise. For example, I spent some time hanging around the cafe listening to a psychotherapist make a phone call about his next appointment. Turns out he was on his way to have a session with Silvio Caruso, who would be my first assassination target. I waited for him to finish his conversation, and knocked him out while he was using the restroom. Wearing his clothes allowed me access to the villa and a direct one-on-one meeting with Caruso behind closed doors.
It is always satisfying to hide in plain sight, but I found the therapy session with Mr. Caruso to be especially fascinating. A neurotic stem-cell researcher, it seems that he has some deep psychological issues. Listening to Agent 47 ask questions and impersonate the renowned therapist was as entertaining as the kill itself. A lot of context was added to my assassination job and many of the things that Caruso talked about could be used to my advantage during my next playthrough. After utilizing all of the different infiltration opportunities, I had enough details to fill out the rest of the story. It became something more than an assassination mission: a story about a secret scientific experiment carried out by fascinating people.
I completed Caruso’s assassination in a number of ways, just as I did for my other target, Francesca De Santis. A brilliant research scientist, she leads the virus project for the Ether Corporation. By intercepting her hired private investigator, I met with her at the nearby dock, which later allowed me an opportunity to “speak” with her in private. In a completely different scenario, I overheard Caruso’s professional golf instructor talking on the phone with De Santis and realized they were having a secret relationship. Impersonating the golf instructor, of course, allowed me a private and isolated encounter with her.
Impersonation is always a safe bet in accessing your targets, but there are also less subtle ways to do it. An explosive golf ball easily took care of Mr. Caruso during his golf lesson, just as a falling chandelier can make quick work of anyone standing beneath it. Sapienza is a sandbox in which to carry out your goals in any way that you deem necessary and satisfying. Perhaps what I found most interesting is the ability to exploit each target’s weaknesses. Caruso is clearly struggling with the death of his mother, which can factor into his tendencies. In classic Hitman fashion, a flower delivery man outfit can be used to gain access onto the premises, where you might find Caruso grieving at his mother’s grave.
In contrast with Paris’ mansion, Sapienza just feels so much larger. The villa is not quite as big, but it is just as detailed and is actually more interesting. The courtyard is gorgeous, with an expansive view of both the ocean and the city skyline. Caruso’s villa feels like the home of a mafia boss, with armed “tough guy” security all around as well as typical kitchen staff and servants. Exploring the villa will yield a lot of great set pieces, but the most breathtaking part of it lies underground.
After navigating a series of underground tunnels, I arrived in the secret laboratory full of scientists and heavily armed guards. Clearly this was where the virus was held and I had to find some way of gaining access to the protected lab. Looking around this dangerous area, I noted the shoreside cave mouth where a seaplane was docked. For the first time in a Hitman game, I felt like James Bond taking on the ultimate villain.
In addition to the main story mission there are smaller, objective-based escalation missions. Essentially these are brief variations on World of Tomorrow. The objective is to take out different targets in a variety of ways, but it’s essentially the same mission with a new target. It can be fun to approach the area with a different perspective, but it only adds a little more depth to the mission.
Experience points are rewarded with every successful completion of World of Tomorrow, with a lot of incentive placed on mission variety. These unlock new features such as weapon and gadget loadouts, outfits, and new starting points in the mission. For example, you might start the mission undercover as a gardener or chef as opposed to the default park bench in the center of town. It allows for a lot of replayability with new ways to approach the mission. Unfortunately I kept repeatedly getting disconnected from the Hitman servers during my playthroughs, which forced me to go back into the main menu in order to reconnect. This was certainly very frustrating, but not game-breaking.
Overall, episode 2 is an improvement over the debut episode, with more depth and a more interesting concept overall. Even though it’s essentially only one mission, it is very expansive and holds tons of replay value. The episodic release structure is still Hitman’s most puzzling aspect, but the game’s quality does not feel diminished in any way. The town of Sapienza is massive and the game mechanics have never felt better.