IO Interactive has a brand new Hitman collection with Blood Money and Absolution now available for PS4 and Xbox One in 4K HD.
I've been a fan of the Hitman series for a long time and have sunk countless hours into the games since they started to release on PS2. It's one of those series that never fails to deliver an exciting and tense gameplay experience that's different no matter how many times you play through the same mission. For the unfamiliar, you play as Agent 47, an assassin whose role is to take out elusive targets in public places while leaving no evidence behind. You'll knock out innocent bystanders and steal their clothes so that you can blend in as well as improvise kills with objects such as nail guns and kitchen knives. There's always multiple ways you can kill your target but you'll get the most rewards for doing so silently and hiding the body and escaping without alerting anyone. Thankfully, checkpoints are commonplace (at least in normal difficulty), allowing you to take advantage of every opportunity you find to chain your actions and create the most elegant kill possible.
Before I get into the specifics of the titles in this collection, let me just say up front that if you already own Hitman: Blood Money or Hitman: Absolution, there is little reason to purchase this collection. Sure, they've made the graphics HD and in 4K but they haven't done much other than that. If you boot up the PS2 version of Blood Money, you'll see that the game looks exactly the same except for crisper edges and textures so it still looks pretty darn old when compared to the more modern Hitman games. Absolution looked great on PS3 and it still does on PS4 but again, it's nothing drastic to warrant purchasing it again if you already own it.
The other thing that IO Interactive claims to have enhanced is the control system. I never had issues with the controls in Absolution and still don't in this version but I struggled a lot with Blood Money. I constantly found myself pressing the wrong button, causing guards in my vicinity to be alerted and having to reload my save. Maybe it's because my brain is still tuned to the latest PS4 control system but even with adjustments being made to fit modern controllers better, I still struggled. The whole idea of having to crouch and ready your fiber wire then release when behind your target is just strange. I also found it frustrating how I would open then close the map while in a closet and if I accidentally tapped the close button twice, I would exit the closet thus alerting anyone in the room.
With all of that out of the way, let's take a look at the individual games.
Hitman: Blood Money HD PlayStation 4 ★★★☆☆
Blood Money was hailed for introducing many new gameplay elements that are commonplace in modern Hitman titles such as picture-in-picture view, throwing weapons, hiding targets in containers, and having accident deaths available on every level. Most of these are expected now to the point where you can't imagine being without them. Blood Money also includes a weapon upgrade system where you can change things like the amount of sound or recoil that a weapon makes or simply extend your health.
Unfortunately, now that I'm spoiled with the recent Hitman games, these features aren't new anymore and the clunky controls, often dumb AI, and basic albeit smooth PS2 graphics made me want to put it down and leap forward in time to titles that excelled in their control scheme and had much more variety in their scenery, targets, and weaponry as well as being more visually detailed and interesting. A few specific disappointments are the long dying animation that forces you to watch Agent 47 slowly pass away while you can't do anything, the bad sound effects and choppy reactions of enemies noticing and shooting at you, and the constant fiddling with controls to figure out how to stealthily kill someone without pulling out your gun and just punching them in the face.
Of course, if you loved Blood Money back in the day, you might get a kick out of playing it again and pulling off the perfect accident kill but for those who don't have that nostalgic feeling about the game, there really is no reason to buy it yet again.
Hitman: Absolution HD PlayStation 4 ★★★★☆
Absolution takes a huge leap from Blood Money by introducing detailed graphics, more ways to use the scenery to take out targets, smarter AI, an instinct system that shows your enemies on the map through walls, and a generally more cinematic experience. If I compare playing Blood Money to Absolution, it's night and day. Absolution introduces you to the mechanics slowly, diving right in to a beautifully rendered mansion garden scene and showing you how to use your surroundings to hide, distract, and take out opponents without being spotted. It plays like a long movie with many levels starting right where the last left off, making you want to keep playing. The sound effects, graphics, and camera angles combine to make you forget that you're playing a 7 year old game.
The new features in Blood Money have become expected by Absolution except for the weapon upgrade system which some may miss but I never really paid much attention to it other than to upgrade everything whenever I had the cash. With the maps being relatively large (although not as big as 2016's Hitman), there are many more ways to take out your target. In fact, Absolution does a great job of rewarding you for making use of everything that a given environment has to offer through collecting available disguises, taking out targets with certain items, and finishing the level without being detected.
One major setback in this enhanced version of Hitman: Absolution is the complete absence of Contracts mode. The PS3 release allowed you to set up contracts for other players to complete online. Unfortunately, the developer had to remove this from the HD Enhanced Collection due to GDPR reasons. They vaguely promise to look into ways to add this feature back but you'll have to stick to the recent Hitman games if you want to play online for now. The new online components are much more intricate anyway.
There's no real reason to buy Hitman HD Enhanced Collection if you already own Blood Money and Absolution. The clunky controls and dated graphics of Blood Money aren't improved enough to warrant a purchase and Absolution is missing its popular online Contracts mode. Nevertheless, these are still solid Hitman games so if you haven't played them yet, this compilation may be worth getting.
- + Absolution looks great and provides a tense cinematic experience
- + Good opportunity to play the older games if you don't already own them
- - Blood Money's control scheme is frustrating
- - Graphics and sound of Blood Money definitely haven't aged well, even in HD
- - No online Contracts mode in Absolution