The Hitman series is, to many, a defining moment in the stealth genre. With the latest Hitman title, Hitman Absolution, leaving a sour taste in the mouths of some Hitman fans, the HD Trilogy appears to offer up exactly the rush they need… surely this is what they all want? How do the old games fair by today’s standards? Read on to find out.
The HD Trilogy, for those that don’t know, ships with Hitman 2: Silent Assassin, Hitman: Contracts and Hitman: Blood Money. The staple of any contemporary HD upgrade is a crisp high-definition eye-wash and thankfully, there’s a clear amount of effort gone into reviving the older titles to HD. Visual prowess aside, Silent Assassin and Contracts are now populated with achievements (no score is allocated to Blood Money), as well as boasting a solid frame rate. While the HD upgrade is a noteable conversion, the older games haven’t aged all too well in terms of gameplay. Powering up the chosen title means nostalgia will grip you, but stepping back and actually questioning what you’re about to munch down on means the games suddenly feel a little clunky, a little awkward and tad bit rusty.
Silent Assassin still offers a wealth of exploration when it comes to level design, as well as a wide variety of kill options for your target – arguably more than later additions to the franchise, but it still comes at a price. The movements of 47 seem laboured and stiff at the best of times, with gunplay feeling as though you’re running on ice. The mapping of the respective pad, a pad based on console of choice, works well, but the decision to leave the map viewing the same (accessed via menus), is a lazy and rather foolish choice if truth be told. Contracts is a greater improvement to the formula with the controls, interface and combat feeling a little more relaxed and natural in general. Assasinations are again topped to the brim with choices and options and the entire experience is as fluid than ever before. Blood Money ships in the box too and comes essentially “as is” from its previous release. Originally shipped in 2006, the game remains a strong addition to the franchise that’s definitely worth a playthrough.
With the majority of positives behind, the A.I. of both older titles hasn’t aged well, in fact, there’s no doubt that those new to the franchise will experience a heavy slap to the face from 2000/2002 as the enemies can be unforgiving. Donning a disguise doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll actually remain anonymous, as the older enemies portray a serious dose of dogmatism as their suspicion levels soar when you waltz passed them: it’s as if the enemies of the past suffer from a serious bout of vegetarian rage as you shuffle past them dressed as a sweaty beef jerky.
It’s a shame the “trilogy” doesn’t actually come with the first title Hitman: Codename 47, but if you’ve played Hitman 2: Silent Assassin and/or Hitman: Contracts before, you’ll quickly adapt to the aging controls and find your feet. Once there, the HD revamps will offer you a healthy dose of nostalgia, familiarity and allure that prove to be worth the price of admission. But, if like many out there, you’re new to the franchise, the HD Trilogy will do its best to school you about the foundations of the legendary franchise. And while that lesson is in fact one of the greatest told, it’s a lesson that might prove a difficult one.
TGL Score 7/10
Format: Xboox 360 (version tested), PlayStation 3
Developer: IO Interactive
Release Date: Out Now