Review: Hitman HD Trilogy

They’ve weathered badly in the storm of an HD generation…

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With the recent release of Hitman Absolution, it comes as no great surprise that Square Enix have made the most of the momentum and released an HD collection of previous Hitman titles at a budget price. Featuring Silent Assassin, Contracts and Blood Money there’s plenty of game here for your money, but is Agent 47 still as appealing now as he was all those years ago? Well maybe, but don’t hold your breath for much in the way of shiny remade visuals…

It’s an odd thing about HD remakes. Some look brilliant – the Ico and Shadow of the Colossus collection spring to mind – but others just look like someone ran the graphics through an upscaler, shrugged and thought “that’ll do…”. That’s about where we find the Hitman collection. You can tell its running on something newer than a PS2, but most of the textures and objects in the world look rough around the edges. But I’m a grown man, I shouldn’t be swayed solely on how pretty a game is, so let’s look at what’s important: the gameplay, and more to the point whether it’s still relevant so many years after these titles were first put together.

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This is a tough one to call. Time hasn’t been kind to Silent Assassin and Contracts, with both feeling like games long since surpassed. They suffer from the common issue when playing old and memorable games, where the memories of spending all of those hours silently sneaking up on someone and suffocating them doesn’t have any resemblance on just how awkward and sluggish it actually is. Sure there have been far better, newer and technologically more advanced games released since that will make these look and feel a bit ropey, but those games which stand the test of time are still every bit as playable and enjoyable as they were when they were first released – these two just haven’t managed to do that. They’ve weathered badly in the storm of an HD generation which has demanded tighter controls and more accessible action.

Bloody Money is a slightly different story though – being the latest of the games on offer you’d expect it to be the shining light in the collection, not least because it is, somewhat bewilderingly, a current-gen game having been released in 2006 on the 360. The gameplay has clearly come on leaps and bounds here when compared with the older two titles, but still feels dated despite being being relatively recent. Assassination missions are much better here, giving you more ways to quietly knock off your enemies as well as more ways to get rid of the messy evidence or make things look a little more accidental. It can be quite frustrating, especially near the beginning, but if you’re willing to be quite resilient about things then you’ll pass the ropey first couple of levels and get to the stuff where you can really sink your teeth in. With Hitman Absolution gently easing the series away from the true strategic assassin nature of the older Hitman games, this is probably the ultimate experience in terms of being a true badass hitman and even with some 7 year old rust there’s enough enjoyment here to make up for the rest of the package falling a bit flat.

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But can we justify you paying out for a full HD collection when only one of the games has come close to standing the test of time? Well, it’s difficult to. While most retailers have already knocked the price down to a manageable £20, you’re paying for nostalgia and not much more. The boost to HD only serves to show you just how rough games used to look, and with the gameplay suffering in the earlier games as well this will mainly appeal to fans who want to see where the series started or want a bit of old-fashioned assassination fun. A worthwhile release, but certainly not one for the masses.

Reviewed on PS3

 
 

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