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Hitman HD Trilogy Review

Cart: Hitman HD Trilogy
Cab: Xbox 360 / PS3
Coin: IO Interactive

If there’s one thing that humans are natural experts at, it’s taking things for granted.

As the storm clouds gather and the tension slowly builds in the run-up to the next generation, the Hitman HD Trilogy arrives hot on the heels of the first new game in the series for six years. It’s perhaps the most unusual and yet most logical time it could have possibly manifested.

Whilst many were somewhat disappointed with Hitman Absolution’s radical take on Agent 47’s endeavours, I for one found it to be a totally refreshing, polished, exciting and highly engaging experience; arguably more so than any other entry in the somewhat misunderstood franchise since the ground-breaking debut on PC in 2000.

Hitman has always been somewhat of an awkward, unforgiving beast; giving you guns yet discouraging you from using them; affording you strength yet punishing you for lack of restraint. But with Absolution, it finally felt as though aggression could be balanced perfectly with stealth and that a minor misstep could be salvaged through some quick-thinking and versatile environmental interactions. It felt grittier and more alive than any other game in the franchise and was a genuine pleasure from beginning to end.

And so, surrounded by a choir of voices all clamouring for the next-generation and to the backdrop of a very modern murder in the form of Absolution, I delved back into the Hitman Trilogy not knowing quite what to expect.

What I found was disappointment and promise in equal measure.

Not one of the games in this collection have aged at all well. Poor controls; imprecise movements; shabby graphics; unforgiving level design; amateur cut-scenes; weak scripting; lifeless environments and utterly abysmal AI. And I’ve played and enjoyed each one of these games before. Sure, I had my reservations in the past but they were still, for their time, progressive pieces of work and well worth the effort.

Agent 47

Now, I’m afraid, they’re barely worthy of your attention at all. Yes, if you’re a diehard fan of the series, you will find much to enjoy and, yes, underneath the rough, wrinkled skin there’s still the essence of the Hitman experience to be had, but the process of peeling that back is somewhat laborious and painful.

There is, unsurprisingly, a sliding scale of quality throughout the trilogy that builds up to the credible Blood Money, which does makes a reasonable effort of holding its own. But taken in context with Absolution, even it feels distinctly hobbled and narrow in its scope and vision. And given that this is the one game that you had access to anyway and could have picked up for the price of a pint, its inclusion here arguably does more to harm than help the overall sense of worth.

And yet I find myself strangely excited after sampling this somewhat soured vintage.

You see, there seems to be a great deal of negativity swirling the medium at the moment in a number of various forms. From the unhelpful finger-pointing and blame-gaming in the media, the increasingly cynical business tactics and micro-transactions of the publishers and the jaded remarks of we consumers that clamour for near constant re-invention; the medium seems to be slowly dragging itself down under the weight of its own ambitions. And in such a moment it’s quite easy to forget what we have achieved over this last decade.

Sometimes to truly realise what an eventful journey you’ve taken, you need to look back over your shoulder, take in the view and realise just how far you’ve come. In turn, you need to look forward again and relish the journey ahead with renewed excitement and vigour.

And so whilst my experience with the Hitman HD Collection has not been one that I could readily recommend that you sample for yourself, it’s been a welcome and timely reminder that we’ve made significant and meaningful progress of late and that, perhaps, the best is yet to come.


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