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Hitman HD Trilogy Review

I was quite giddy when I realised I would be covering what was essentially a collection of some of my favourite games of last generation. In my head, they were still as brilliant as I remembered them, and on a pure gameplay level I was sure they would impress, especially after Hitman: Absolution didn't live up to my expectations.

Returning to the sandboxes of the franchise's roots should provide the perfect antidote to combat the newest entry's restrictive narrative... shouldn't it?

I decided to start from my first experience with the Hitman franchise, Hitman 2: Silent Assassin. When I booted it up, it was just as I remembered. The layout of the Sicilian church containing Agent 47's armoury and training ground was burned into my temporal lobe. A hub area, where you can see your collection of weapons as you accumulate them. I misspent many an hour in my youth, hopping in and out of missions, trying to fill my weapon shed. This time though, I decided to proceed with the first objective.

First, I created my own objective: assassinate the scarecrow.

I tiptoed up to it with ease, and cleanly sliced its throat with a kitchen knife. That'll stop you eyeballing me, I thought, as its dead-eyed gaze continued to follow my every move.

Next, I armed 47 with his signature weapon, the Silverballers.

I crouch walked (painfully slowly) towards my target, being careful to not get spotted. I spied at it, through a keyhole, waiting for my perfect chance to strike.

I shot the bucket.

I remember how satisfying that 'ping' was, the first time around. Alas, the simple physics and material specific impact noises are something that we take for granted now. The bucket just wasn't as amazing as it once was.

At least, after my strenuous training session, I felt I was ready for my first contract.

Well, I wasn't. Nothing can prepare you for how wrinkled and withered the game has become with age. No amount of HD lotion can reduce the crags in its systems and the game is a frustrating mess, with its ambitions outweighing its capabilities.

The guards, who all act as an all-knowing hive-mind, zoom in on your exact location once you break the game's rules. If you run, they will shoot you. They will do so whilst looking in the other direction - their head a completely separate entity from their bodies.

These graphical uglies can be seen on the environments, also. On the outside of a building, you can often see the outline of a door that is located within, and there are a multitude of graphical hiccups that I either didn't notice, or just completely ignored the first time around.

The game's only redeeming quality is the brilliant soundtrack, with classical music framing the action perfectly.

Hitman 2 feels like a date. One that you attended whilst under the influence of copious amounts of alcohol. You're sure it went well. But then you check your phone and see a video of your escapades - the horror of what you witness makes you want to crawl into your shoe, where you will live out the rest of your days, gently rocking back and forth like a meaty pendulum.

After Hitman 2, there is Hitman: Contracts, and if you decide Hitman 2 is too much of a chore, and you want to try one of the others, you must exit the game completely, with no option to change game from the pause menu. Graphically, it stands up much better and the missions are much more inventive, with a cast of hateful characters for you to dispense as you see fit.

Again though, the annoyances creep through, even on the very first mission.

This mission is centred around the escape from an asylum as SWAT officers storm the building. Even if you make the effort to disguise yourself as an orderly, the SWAT officers can see straight through your clothing with their X-Ray vision, spotting your concealed weapons.

They see your weapons without frisking you, and even if you're not visibly armed. Also, if you trigger a firefight with any of them, a long stream of SWAT will storm into your exact location, even if you take pains to throw off their incessant pursuit. The mechanics just feel dated and the game feels like it's trying its hardest to annoy you, rather than let you have fun. Other than the missions being different, the same problems crop up as in the previous title and it feels like a chore to play, at times.

It's a good job then, that in this collection of titles, there is at least one game that still stands up to scrutiny today.

Hitman: Blood Money, is still as fun as it was when it was released seven years ago. The game was a leap forward for the series, bringing with it many new systems and innovations.

One of the biggest new features, is the appearance of 47's face in the tabloids. Each assassination is covered in a newspaper at the end of each mission, with every detail catalogued: witnesses, shots fired, kills, nature of kills. This information carries over into following missions, causing later contracts to become increasingly difficult for the psychopathic hitman, with people recognising 47's bald head from the newspapers littered around the levels.

Agent 47 is much more agile in this iteration, and he can actually climb, punch people in the face and use them as meaty shields. His bald head still protrudes over the top of the low cover you hide behind, but luckily, the AI are oblivious.

The way the climbing is implemented can cause irritation, however, because it is mostly automated, with only a slight push towards the obstacle causing 47 to perform a vault. I've also never seen a game character climb down a drainpipe so slowly. WHY WON'T YOU SLIDE?

Another new addition is the ability to conceal unconscious/dead bodies in conveniently placed containers that tend to reside just where a careful player is likely to need them. A meticulous player can also use the environment to their advantage in another way, with the addition of 'accidental deaths'. Each target can be killed under non-suspicious circumstances, as long as 47 is there to grease the gears of fate. This can be accomplished in a plethora of ways: pushing over balconies, dropping weights on heads, rigging a light fitting to fall and many, many more.

As well as making your target's deaths look accidental, you can also use some of the improvised weapons, such as a child's air rifle. If you do want to use 47's trademark weapons to get the job done, you can now upgrade these, adding sights, extended mags, etc.

Every facet of the franchise is improved with this iteration, but there is one massive, glaring problem: is it worth buying a collection, when there is only one game that still holds up today? It's also worth noting that Blood Money was a cross-gen title, and is therefore readily available in HD already.

You may look back at these games fondly, but the passage of time hasn't been kind to them at all, and it may have tinted your glasses a certain shade of rose. On a positive note, if you do decide to buy this anyway, you will at least be able to appreciate how streamlined and user-friendly modern games have become - and for that, Agent 47, I thank you.

In summary, Blood Money, is brilliant, but I would suggest that you just pop onto an online retailers, where you can buy it for around £4, pre-owned, and still play it in HD anyway.

5.00/10 5

Hitman HD Trilogy (Reviewed on PlayStation 3)

The game is average, with an even mix of positives and negatives.

I was quite giddy when I realised I would be covering what was essentially a collection of some of my favourite games of last generation. In my head, they were still as brilliant as I remembered them, and on a pure gameplay level I was sure they would impress, especially after Hitman: Absolution didn't live up to my expectations.

This game was supplied by the publisher or relevant PR company for the purposes of review
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Ewok - 11:41pm, 3rd April 2015

I own all of these games on PC, having picked them up in a Steam sale, and you just made me not want to play them...

kirkules - 11:41pm, 3rd April 2015 Author

Glad I could be of service.