It’s been 11 years since Silent Assassin was originally released back in the good old days. Contracts was soon to follow in 2004 and Blood Money in 2006. After a truly epic 7 year wait between Blood Money and the release of Absolution it’s safe to say Agent 47 is back. For those who have fond memories of the original Hitman titles or those who never played them before (shame on you!) the Hitman HD Collection is here to help.
There really is no need for me to go into huge depth on each title and basically provide a walk through of the games, especially considering a large majority of you have probably played at least one of them before. So with that in mind let’s see what we’ve got.
The gameplay remains varied and reasonably open-world as you would expect with a Hitman title, offering an, at times, bewildering array of options. I found that particularly on Contracts I actually felt that a more structured experience would have been quite helpful. This is not to say I want to be told were to go, what to do and have no say in the matter but the way Absolution was structured would have eliminated some tedious moments from time to time.
There are quite a few bugs present as you would expect with games up to a decade old but I don’t understand why IO Interactive couldn’t have sorted these out. I appreciate the need to keep the game faithful to the original and most of the bugs are more like quirks really, arguably adding charm to a title. But for example a certain guard in a certain mission in Japan decides to get randomly run over by a truck that has completely nothing to do with your choices. He dies, causes an alert and completely destroys your chance of a Silent Assassin rating. It doesn’t happen often but I would have like these issues resolved.
However, there are some surprisingly advanced ideas and mechanics at work, most of which I had forgotten from my original experience. It’s great that occasionally you stop and think “Really? They tried to do that 9 years ago?!” despite the fact that they often don’t work quite as well as we would expect from the current generation you can see why Hitman has become a legend and how IO have been pushing games forward for over a decade. Little things like squeaky floorboards in a mission on Silent Assassin really help add up to create a full experience.
A nice coat of high definition paint obviously improves the look of the games enormously but their age is just too great not to shine through. Textures are simple and areas sometimes look really quite dull, especially in Silent Assassin. Having said that there are a lot of NPCs walking around on patrols and going about various tasks all around you giving the environments a nice rich, full feel most of the time.
Don’t expect to be looking at three titles with visuals like Absolution and concentrate on the depth and tactics involved in the stealth mechanics and the graphics certainly shouldn’t ruin your experience.
Always a strong point for the entire series the sound does not disappoint in any of the titles in the HD collection. Jesper Kyd is in charge of your sonic feast through the entire collection and with a lovely Dolby 5.1 output the music is better than ever. There are some truly epic scores to accompany your bald protagonist’s journey starting as soon as you get to the main menu.
Unfortunately voice acting is stiff and not particularly inspirational but the dynamic score more than makes up for it. The music that kicks in when you change disguises, take out your mark or begin your escape really adds to the experience and gives an almost movie like feel when a calm, cool drum beat accompanies your overly casual walking escape straight through the front door.
TROPHIES AND DIFFICULTY
Hitman is both easy and hard depending what you want out of the game. It is really is a case of “the more you put into it, the more you get out of it”. Absolution spoiled us with improved weapon handling, the point-shooting system and the ability to bash people in the head head on so do not expect to be able to engage in any real combat scenarios for anything other than a brief moment.
If, however, you play stealthy and use patience, brain power, keen situational awareness and Ray Mears level map reading skills as your key weapons you will be rewarded with a satisfying and thought provoking experience. Using restarts to figure out the map layout, which points of interest you plan on using and observing NPCs before making your move is the key, as usual, with Hitman. You rarely, if ever, need to make use of a firearm with the plethora of methods and routes available to you and open combat should be avoided at all costs, it’s not fun, it doesn’t work and you probably shouldn’t be on Hitman if this is what you’re looking for anyway!
The trophy sets are simple, mainly requiring you to complete the game on the hardest difficulty (no easy task!) and acquire a handful of Silent Assassin ranks. You are well rewarded for your efforts with most trophies being silver and above and hardly any bronzes at all.
If you like Hitman this really is an investment you cannot miss. If you haven’t played the games before and fancy something a little bit clever you still cannot miss this game. If you just want a few trophies and a huge amount of content for a reasonable price this is definitely still worth your time and hard earned cash. The only reasons I wouldn’t recommend Hitman: HD Collection is if you want fast action, a more structured, on-the-rails experience or if the graphics will be an issue for you.
It’s great to relive those classic moments and refresh your memory of 47’s past and for newcomers to the series this is a great way to learn the ropes and see why 47 is as iconic as he is.
There is an obvious progression in the development of Hitman by IO Interactive from Silent Assassin through Contracts and Blood Money to the latest instalment, Absolution. It’s interesting and clear to see what changes were made, and why, with each new game and see how we got to Hitman: Absolution.
Reviewed on PS3, Hitman: HD Collection is available now on Xbox 360 and PS3 both online and on disc, and provides huge value for money.