IO Interactive /Warner Bros Interactive Entertainment (studio)
11 January 2019 (released)
18 January 2019
Within the space of six months, players have been given more Hitman than we can shake a Silver Balder at. Agent 47 returned last year with Hitman 2 (named in the top ten games of 2018 on Game-News) and now we’re given another chance to play two more games. IO Interactive has released the HD enhanced edition which features fan favourite Hitman Blood Money and the highly divisive Hitman Absolution. So is this collection worth picking up and what has been brought with these classic titles for the 8th gen platforms?
Hitman Blood money and Absolution have had some refinements and tweaking, making them sharper, brighter and just more pleasant for current gen consoles. Hitman Blood Money sees a vast improvement in more refined textures, better lighting and smoother models including environments and characters. While it does also run at a smooth 60 fps, the game does still look a little dated in many respects and has the odd pixelated texture here and there. But for a game that was released over 13 years ago, it doesn’t look bad. In fact for myself I noticed the improvements straight away and to play this with the smoother, sleeker presentation was a joy.
Absolution might confuse some people but again there are some noticeable improvements with better lighting, depth of field, improved antialiasing and a fast frame rate that’s actually better than a high end PC version. While the game is not that old, you can again see the improvements and they just enhance the experience more so.
This being said it’s clear that Hitman Blood Money may show its age in other areas. Don’t get me wrong, I love Hitman Blood Money and still consider it the high point for the series. The story is highly engaging, the location fascinating and the technical achievements such as the crowd system work extremely well. But Blood Money is a tough game and one that requires a great deal of patience, with looking through key holes, checking the map over and over and just being lucky for a lot of instances.
Plus compared to the later games, Blood Money can feel a little empty in its game world at times and the bugs which were present over a decade ago are still here. I remembered the issues I came across for both the Xbox and Xbox 360 of this game and it’s disappointing that the same issues are still here. While nothing game breaking occurs, it’s just laughable when the sound cuts out or when shooting an enemy they just fly off 10 feet into the air. Again nothing game breaking and not frequent, but these issues are still there.
Overall Hitman Blood Money is still great for the interesting targets, the set ups, great story and being able to upgrade 47’s arsenal and having the notoriety system in place. This is where if you’ve been rather messy on a job, the more likely it will be that your face ends up in the newspaper and future missions will become harder. You can resolve this by spending money to bribe or murder witnesses which is a neat touch. Plus there are classic missions such as the Opera House, The Street Party, Las Vegas and of course, The Funeral.
Great game but it shows it age massively in certain areas. A full remake with the Hitman 2 engine would’ve been perfect.
Now, Hitman Absolution.
I like this game to be honest. It’s not perfect but it’s something different from the rest for better and worse. The story resembles something more like an action thriller where Agent 47 is on the run, after betraying the newly reformed Agency. With big named actors featured and plot elements that include a Texan arms dealer, Mexican Wrestler for a Body Guard, Campy yet creepy villains, Hitman taking part in the Fugitive and Killer Nuns who wear leather.
Yeah it’s cheesy and a little odd but this is centred in a world where killer Clones are made so it’s not really a big deal to me but I understand why some people don’t like it. The dialogue and over the top nature to many of the characters can be silly and plays to an extreme polar opposite to what Hitman or Agent 47 are. Previous games had quieter, sinister villains with class and elegance. Here they’re a little goofy and strange. It’s like Mr Freeze in Batman and Robin, before he was interesting and serious but here he’s goofy, yet highly entertaining.
Okay so in terms of gameplay, Hitman Absolution was a blessing in disguise as it refined and improved many of the mechanics from previous games. While older Hitman games are great, they’re horrible to handle. Absolution was fluent in movement; pacing and full control was given making life easier. Gunplay was given the same attention as stealth and new features such as instinct (while not perfect) added another layer to infiltration and evasion. The same level of detail in assassinations is here with many great setups and targets to kill. Numerous ways to hide, hunt and kill your targets helps in replay value and sets a high bar for creative standards. Granted a couple of hits feel more linear such as the strip club, but the payoff is so good that it’s worth the trade-off.
The problem is some of the part in between. IO Interactive clearly wanted to replicate Splinter Cell and more so with Splinter Cell Conviction. Adding areas where you could sneak your way through, using different objects and aspects to the environment. Some are good, like the library which offers multiple ways to escape and other sections like the Gunshop, The Court House and even the Tailor are very good story driven moments. But some are just a waste of time, adding nothing to the story and serve to drag out a level for a couple of extra minutes.
Plus some are so easy to complete that merely walking forward and crouching is far more effective than trying to cut the power or distract enemies by throwing something. Other areas have a trial and error structure which can be annoying and ruin the pacing a little.
Overall Absolution is a pretty solid game with some great hits, level design and stunning visuals.
So, can I recommend this collection? Yes I can, but sadly it comes with a price which is a little steep. It costs £44.99 at the moment which is a little overpriced in my opinion. It’s a collection worth getting but players will need to put up with Hitman Blood Money's dated elements and Absolution’s changes. Considering that Remasters of other games are 1/3 the price and some have aged much better than Hitman Blood Money.
Still this is worth checking out regardless.
++ 60 Frames per second and bumped up visuals
+ Hitman Blood Money’s fantastic story and target set ups
+ Absolution’s refined stealth mechanics and creative hits
- Blood Money still has plenty of bugs and technical issues
- Absolution’s poor pacing at times and lack of focus in story
A PS4 copy of the Hitman HD Enhanced Collection was provided by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment for the purpose of this review.