Hitman HD Enhanced Collection (PlayStation 4) Review

By Justin Prinsloo 10.02.2019

Review for Hitman HD Enhanced Collection on PlayStation 4

One of the gaming world's most popular stealth series has received yet another facelift, indicating that seemingly no console generation can escape a rerun of Agent 47's standout assassinations. The Hitman HD Enhanced Collection is a modern remaster of fan-favourites Hitman: Blood Money and Hitman: Absolution. The intention of this package is no doubt to remind fans of the roots of the series, as well as educate newcomers drawn in by the success of the latest games in the franchise. The big question is: do the enhancements of Blood Money and Absolution on current gen consoles justify another re-release from Square Enix?

At first glance, the two games included in this bundle have little in common besides the fact that Absolution follows on chronologically from Blood Money. Gameplaywise they are as alike as fire and water: 2006's Blood Money is a thoroughbred stealth game with sandbox levels, incentivising experimentation and player freedom, while 2012's Absolution is a more linear affair which places a heavier emphasis on the game's narrative and action film-esque set pieces. Their differences mean that most players will enjoy one or the other despite them both being well-received at the time of their initial releases.

The packaging makes sense upon closer inspection, however: 2016's HITMAN was the perfect amalgam of these previous entries, combining Blood Money's non-linear sandbox design with the mechanics that made Absolution a smooth joy to play. This collection is an affectionate look over the shoulder at what are effectively the parents of the modern Hitman instalments.

Screenshot for Hitman HD Enhanced Collection on PlayStation 4

The titles themselves still hold up reasonably well despite some noticeable wear-and-tear that comes with age, particularly in Blood Money. The years have not been kind to the majority of the game's mechanics: movement is clunky even by '06 standards and the outdated controls will take some getting used to for the modern gamer. The AI is at times very impressive but suffers from some inconsistencies: a guard standing watch over a door will not blink should you open said door in his face from behind cover, but should you cross the threshold for a mere moment be prepared for at least a stiff telling off. In this sense it's very gamey but moments like these are few and far between, and for the most part the AI is remarkable for the time it was conceived in.

The shooting in Blood Money is the weakest link of the experience, but this can be overlooked because entering a room with guns blazing is counterintuitive to the refined and methodical approach the game demands. That being said, this inconsistency may discourage first-time players, but if the aged mechanics can be looked past this is an experience that boasts some of the most memorable level design in any game ever made: each environment is distinguishable from the last, crafted with care and originality. No item in these environments is out of place and almost everything not bolted down can be used for distraction and subterfuge. It's a master class in environmental design.

Creativity in executing each hit in Blood Money is encouraged and rewarded and the inexhaustible possibilities in fulfilling each assassination across the game's thirteen distinct levels make the game well worth replaying. It's easy to understand why this is a series favourite for many fans as it perfectly captures the essence of what it is to be a dangerously precise assassin. As mentioned before there's nothing new in the PS4 version that series veterans won't already have visited, but the visuals look great thanks to the increased resolution, so if you're hankering to dive back in or give it a go for the first time, it's well worth a look.

Screenshot for Hitman HD Enhanced Collection on PlayStation 4

Absolution wears its age with a little more grace, and its mechanics are most akin to the latest Hitman games, so will feel the most comfortable to first time players. When it was initially released it received acclaim from critics and players alike, but most Hitman purists were unimpressed with the linear approach to level design and the heavy emphasis on narrative. Sandbox levels are still sprinkled here and there but they're a far cry from the unforgettable environments of Blood Money. It's worth noting that at the time of its initial release third-person action titles were enjoying a boom in popularity, and Absolution was undoubtedly catering to this trend. The result is a product that feels a little different from its predecessors but nevertheless manages to add something new to the series.

Also, that "can't go in guns blazing" vibe that Blood Money totes so proudly is gone, for better or worse. Absolution's shooting mechanics were vastly improved upon, but with that came the capability to empty rooms in Sam Fisher-esque fashion, thanks to the game's Point Shooting mechanic. This allows the player to freeze gameplay and tag enemies before executing them all with the press of a button. It doesn't feel totally out of place, because it's the sort of precision that would be expected of Agent 47, but it is a little odd to see this silky-smooth stealth maestro piledrive through a roomful of enemies as conspicuously as a forklift through glassware.

Despite this and Absolution's other changes, such as the ability for NPCs to see through disguises if they're similarly dressed, it's still very much a Hitman game. There is plenty of mission variety and a host of gameplay challenges to incentivise replays. This title shook up the franchise's sacred formula and it mostly paid off - the sense of accomplishment when a plan is executed to perfection is still very much present here, even if perfection is achieved in a different manner to that of previous instalments. The aforementioned challenges system that this introduced are a great addition, and most fans of the later games will find something to like here.

Screenshot for Hitman HD Enhanced Collection on PlayStation 4

One glaring pitfall in Absolution is the omission of the Contracts mode present on the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC versions, which allows players to create and share custom assassinations with the world. This provides a theoretically endless stream of content, but, likely due to logistical issues, Contracts is not available on the PS4 or Xbox One. It's a bummer but not a deal-breaker - the real deal-breaker might be the package's price. Despite the greatness of both games it's impossible to avoid the limited work that has been done to remaster them for the current gen: little has been changed aside from a generous resolution bump, as well as some interface streamlining, which results in a super crisp image in both games (which also operate at 60fps). Unfortunately, the enhancements end there, as bugs and irritations from the original editions have seemingly not been addressed.

It's clear that this collection was thrown together somewhat hurriedly, as if the surprise announcement a week before release wasn't enough of an indication. Furthermore, it hit the market at the full retail price of a new game even though the titles herein are thirteen and seven years old respectively. It's an exasperating, thinly veiled attempt at a cash grab and the outcry over the price is certainly understandable. The long and short of it is that the Hitman HD Enhanced Collection includes two very different, very enjoyable games that remain a blast even after all these years. Unfortunately, given their age there's little to justify the exorbitant price tag. Blood Money and Absolution are notable stealth Hall of Famers, they are well worth revisiting for series veterans, and certainly warrant a play for newcomers - but you may want to wait for an inevitable price drop.

Screenshot for Hitman HD Enhanced Collection on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

Both Hitman: Blood Money and Hitman: Absolution are a stealth gamer's delight, and a decent addition to the PS4's growing catalogue of classics. Veterans and newcomers alike will find something to enjoy in this diverse pairing, but the over-the-top price tag is likely to discourage many who are on the fence. Nevertheless, the remastering is good, and both titles play well on the system, even though there are no major graphical changes over the originals, beyond a resolution bump and some minor interface tweaks.

Developer

IO Interactive

Publisher

IO Interactive

Genre

Action Adventure

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   

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