Composed by
Jesper Kyd

 

Published by
LynneMusic Productions (2002)

 

Tracklistings
1) Hitman 2 Main Title
2) Waiting For Action
3) Action Begins
4) 47 Makes A Decision
5) The Penthouse
6) Japanese Mansion
7) Japanese Snow Castle
8) Streets Of India
9) Mission In India
10) 47 In St. Petersburg
11) Trouble In Russia
12) Desert Sun
13) Arabian Dance
14) The Setup
15) End Boss
16) Slow Ambience
17) Fast Ambience
18) H2 Exploration
19) H2 Action
20) Dreams Of Istanbul (Unreleased)
21) Hong Kong Themes (Hitman Codename 47)
22) 47 Main Title (Hitman Codename 47)

 

Extras
- Game website
- Composer website

 

Availability
- Synsoniq.com

 

Review by
Oliver Ittensohn

Hitman 2: Silent Assassin

The “stealth-action” genre had been neglected for many years until Konami’s very successful game Metal Gear Solid made it very popular in the 1990’s. Trying to participate in the rise of the genre IO Interactive released Hitman: Codename 47 in 2000 and Hitman 2: Silent Assassin in 2002. The player takes the role of a genetically engineered contract killer and has to take out several well-guarded targets. Despite its rather violent concept, the game got good reviews because of its strong and engaging gameplay and impressive graphics.

The developers decided to hire Jesper Kyd, who had already worked on the first Hitman game, to score the sequel. Kyd takes a welcome departure from his electronic-oriented score from the first Hitman to a fully symphonic work performed by the Budapest Symphony Orchestra. He almost completely abandons synthesized effects to focus on the orchestral merits.

The first thing to mention about the score is its big, choral main title theme (“Hitman 2 Main Title”) which is arguably the best track of the album even though it’s not something you’d expect from a stealth game; it’s more like an epic overture. “Waiting for Action” introduces Kyd’s strong stealth-scoring, which mainly consists of strings and punctuated use of brass to create a dangerous and unsettling feel. This technique is very effective and indeed suitable to the game. There are a few more of these ambient tracks on the album (tracks 16-19) that would play while you’re on a mission. They are a fall-back to Hitman 1 being mainly electronic but underline the actual gameplay of the title well.

Most of the soundtrack on CD is actually composed of the epic themes that were written for specific points in the game and would not loop endlessly. Every location the hitman visits over the course of the game is represented by two of these tracks on the album. They are all thematic and well orchestrated and performed. But they also disappoint because of their lack of ethnic instrumentation. While the flavour of these exotic locations, like Japan, India or Russia, is sometimes inherited in the motifs in form of melodic patterns, there are seldom instruments of those locations actually used. One thinks of exotic percussion or flutes. Instead, Kyd employs most of the time very similar orchestration, mainly brass and strings which gets repetitive quite fast, not so much in the game, but more as a stand-alone listen. There is just not enough diversity presented to keep you interested.

On the other hand, it might prove to be more thematic than you’d expect. It’s definitely not an ambient stealth-score like the Hitman: Codename 47 album. Every location has its own theme and some of them sound impressive nonetheless, especially “Mission in India” with its big string arrangement. It does hurt the album a bit that the last five or six tracks are the ambient pieces mentioned earlier because they let the score end rather un-epic and un-orchestral.

It’s good to see real orchestras used for game music and this album clearly shows what qualities come thereof. Hitman 2 is a fine score and a good purchase.