Hitman HD Enhanced Collection has ‘sneaked’ onto PS4 and Xbox One (or should that be sneaked) bringing two of the franchises earlier games to modern consoles. With this, you get Hitman: Blood Money from 2006 (previously available on Xbox 360, PS2, Windows & Original Xbox) and Hitman: Absolution from 2012 (first out on Windows, OSX, PS3 & Xbox 360).
Starting with Hitman: Blood Money, this title being the older of the two hasn’t aged quite as well as I remembered. Granted, I did originally play this on the PC when it initially came out, so maybe this is just down to using a controller rather than mouse and keyboard.
The story as such is based around a retired FBI Director telling a story about Agent 47 to a reporter and the events that unfolded over a two year period. Each piece of the puzzle, being a mission which Agent 47 (the player) has to complete. The cutscenes serve to join the missions together with a bit of structure following the bald-headed assassin.
The big difference with the older games from the series is that you get a larger area in which to play and explore. There are many ways to deal with targets, but you have to discover a way that suits you. Yes, if you wish, you can go in guns blazing and obliterate anyone that may oppose you. Doing so, though, will inevitably up your notoriety, making levels become harder as civilians may recognise you and panic or armed individuals at higher levels may recognise you and attempt to kill you. Thankfully, at the end of the level, you can bribe citizens if you have forgotten to, say, steal a videotape or if you have been caught on camera. You can also bribe the Police or get a new identity which is extremely expensive, but resets notoriety back to zero.
Once you start a level, you will need to explore your surroundings. You do have a map screen where it will highlight points of interest, which could be highlighting a poison that you could put in a drink, for example, or a real gun that can be swapped out for a fake in the case of the opera level, or some explosives that you could use to set up an accident. You can experiment the best way to work through the level and get the highest rating (Silent Assassin) which gives more rewards.
Hitman: Blood Money is the same game it always has been, I will assume that they used a previous-generation console code to bring this title to current platforms. I am not overly sure how it compares graphically, as it looks like the PC version from 2006 in highest resolution with highest detail settings. It has some nice lighting and the textures certainly look sharp given the higher resolution, and it runs at a silky smooth 60 frames per second. You can still save a set amount of times per level, so you don’t have to start again if something doesn’t work out so the frustration of starting again is removed. However, you have to remember to manually save. My only gripe with this title is the controls – I would have liked to see them implement the control scheme from Hitman: Absolution, Hitman and Hitman 2. Something that does annoy is having to hold L3 to aim when throwing something for distraction as an example. Looking in the options, you cannot change controls at all and there isn’t even a diagram showing you what each button does, so you have to play by trial end error.
Next up is Hitman: Absolution. This was the first game after six years away for the bald-headed killer. This time around, IO Interactive went for a full-on narrative experience about the agency, with Diana (Agent 47’s handler) and some big time crooks trying to get hold of a young lady who had been taken from a facility similar to where Agent 47 came from. I remember at the time of release, this title was enjoyed by critics, but fans of the earlier games weren’t sold on the title being story driven with Agent 47 showing he actually cared and thought about others. You also have the fact that the levels were broken down into smaller areas, some of which can be quite linear. You either loved it or hated it – There was no real middle ground!I was one of those that loved it, I found it more manageable than some of the huge sprawling levels Hitman: Blood Money and the other predecessors had. If you forgot to save your game, and you make a mistake you could lose a fair bit of play having to restart a level from scratch.
Each level gives you pointers as to what you can do to take someone out. Instinct was introduced with this title, which shows targets and points of interest, live, when looking around. Looking on the status screens from the pause menu, you will see each level has challenges much like the newer games. As an example, there are 12 ways to take out the target the first time you visit Chinatown, ranging from poisoning food, dropping a suspended pallet on him to a sniper rifle stashed away in an upstairs room. There are also plenty different outfits you can use as disguises throughout the level to try different ways of taking out your target or gaining access to an area of a specific map.
This has been one of my favourite entries in the series to this day. I really enjoy the newer games as they are similar in execution (no pun intended!). Hwoever, I do have to mention that Contracts mode is missing from this re-release. From what I believe, it is down to licensing and servers etc, given that IO are now with Warner Brothers after leaving Eidos. I have read they are trying to resolve this to bring Contracts back, but it may not happen. Additional thinking and being realistic: Are people going to want to play Contracts Mode on a six-year-old game?
Visually, I cannot see the difference on this game! I do have Hitman: Absolution on PS3 (which I bought just before Christmas as I fancied playing it again) and it looks virtually the same except with a lower resolution. I originally played this on my PC when it came out and the PS4 build is all but identical, and much like Hitman: Blood Money with better lighting and 60 frames per second on a current gen console.
I must admit I have a soft spot for the Hitman series of games. I still have the original PC game (Hitman: Codename 47) somewhere in my gaming room. I also remember the slight controversy with it given the content of the game; it was new and exciting, but being a contract killer was frowned upon!
The series has come a long way since the original title with 7 games released to date.
I have to say, though, that pricing on PS4 and Xbox One is a bit expensive for what you are getting here: 2 games for £50 is a bit steep. Looking at other re-releases like the Spyro Reignited Trilogy and Crash Bandicoot N’Sane Trilogy, you can get them for £35, so why are IO and Warner Brothers charging what they are for this collection?
Not forgetting that if you have a half decent PC, both of these titles can be picked up during a Steam sale for next to nothing. Or if you wish you can pick up the PS3 and XBox 360 version of Absolution for under a tenner now. In the case of Xbox, both titles are also backwards compatible on the Xbox One which also makes me question the value of this bundle.
They are good games and will give you countless hours of fun, but I would wait for them to come down in price by at least half. Either that, or pick them up on PC during a sale or on previous generation consoles if you still have those systems. If Contracts mode is returned to Absolution and pricing is dropped to around the £25, I would highly recommend this and gladly up the score. As it stands, though, there are better options available to play these two great games.
Hitman HD Enhanced Collection is out now PS4 and Xbox One from the respective online stores.
- Developer: IO Interactive
- Publisher: Warner Bros Interactive
- Players: Single player
Retro at heart and lover of all things ’80s, especially the computers, the music and the awesome movies and TV shows! Crazy huge retro gaming collection spanning the ’80s and ’90s with hundreds of tapes, discs and carts for various machines on top of a 600+ strong Steam library that is ever-growing. No I am not a serial hoarder, just a dedicated retro gamer!