Meet Agent 47. Agent 47 is an assassin, and a very good one at that. If you want someone taken care of professionally, and most importantly, discreetly, 47 is your man. He can infiltrate the highest security areas, and take out the highest profile targets without anyone knowing he was there. Except that time he alerted the militia by forgetting to stow his gun and getting shot to pieces. And that time he tried to sneak up on a gun-toting guard, only for the guard to turn around and riddle him. And that time he accidentally left a body in the open and alerted the entire compound to his location.
Let’s start over.
Hitman HD Trilogy is a triple pack collection for PS3 and 360, containing Hitman 2: Silent Assassin, Hitman: Contracts, and Hitman: Blood Money. The first two games are HD ports, in the sense that the resolution and frame rate has been bumped up to modern standards. The models and environments appear to be the same as the original games, they certainly didn’t appear any sharper or smoother to me. Blood Money is a direct port of the same game that was released on 360 a few years ago, so owners of this title will see zero changes.
Lets start with the earliest title on the disc, Hitman 2: Silent Assassin. Back in the day, this title was highly praised for its diverse approach to stealth. Many different tactics can be used in each level, some discreet, some less so. This is still true, but the game has not aged particularly well. The controls are finicky, and the stealth system is unreliable at best. Sneaking up behind someone is hit and miss, as most of the guards seem to exhibit a spider-sense, turning around as soon as you get within chloroform distance. Even when disguised, you can be spotted for the smallest infraction.
Getting it right is a chore, and relies on tons of trial and error. The unreliable, cheaty AI is a major problem too, with bodies being discovered in seemingly abandoned areas, not five seconds after stashing them. When a mission works, it’s fantastic, but the slog in getting there diminishes the achievement from elation, to relief that you don’t have to do it again. It’s a shame too, as there are some really interesting missions in there, but the mechanics hold it back.
Next up, Hitman: Contracts. This game took many levels from the original title, Hitman Codename 47, and polished them up, resulting in a much better experience. Mechanically, the game is definitely better than Silent Assassin, with most of the fiddliness smoothed out. Sneaking around is easier, and the AI is less prone to going bullet crazy on you. Missions involve multiple objectives, and achieving them in any order is part of the fun.
You’ll still find a few issues here and there though. The menus in particular are a nightmare, due to their microscopic font. Good luck if you have a smaller TV, you’ll need to squint to see the options available. I made countless errors thanks to these tiny menus, and they seem awful in comparison to the other games on disc. Thankfully, the combat is a bit better here, and you can shoot your way out if it all goes pear shaped. Not ideal, but it works.
Finally, Hitman: Blood Money. This is easily the best of the bunch, for a number of reasons. The environments are nice and varied, the missions are multi-part again, and the dynamic AI works much better. It goes without saying that it looks the nicest, being a direct port. The menu worries of the previous title are gone, with big, clear, obvious options at each point.
Again, the AI will jump on you for small mistakes, but you have more tools at your disposal to avoid these mistakes. Each hit has multiple ways to attempt it, each being well planned and fun to do. In one scenario, you are attempting to stop a wedding, by killing the groom. You can hide up in a roof, sniping the groom as he’s saying his vows, which is kinda fun, but not too subtle. Better than this, you can poison the wedding cake, which he tastes secretly before the wedding, which is amusing to watch. You can even set a remote mine up in the attic above a chandelier, dropping it on him in the middle of a crowded room, making it look like an accident. and keeping suspicion off of you.
As a package, as you can see, the Hitman HD Trilogy has it’s fair share of problems. The first two games just do not hold up as well as they did a few years ago. For a newbie jumping in, as I was, it could very easily turn you off the series entirely. I had severe problems getting used to the slightly antique mechanics, and the AI problems will have you screaming at the TV in undeserved frustration.
For the Hitman veterans, you’ll be sad to hear that this title doesn’t contain any extras, like bonus artwork or behind the scenes content, a big disappointment. You’ll get the Hitman Absolution Sniper Challenge for free on the disc, which is nice, but most fans of the series will have already played that months ago. Ultimately, the HD Trilogy feels like a missed opportunity to fix up some of the problems of the older games, and give the fans a proper celebration of the series. For PS3 gamers, this could be the only way you’ll get to play Blood Money, so fans will want to pick it up for this title alone. If it wasn’t for it’s inclusion, this collection would be getting a much lower score, I’m sad to say.
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