Reviews

Hitman HD Collection

Arun Subramanian

Few franchises have done as well as the Hitman series at getting better as they've gone along, and the history lesson alone may be worth the price of admission.


Hitman HD Trilogy

Publisher: Square Enix
Players: 1
Price: $39.99
Platform: PS3, Xbox 360 (Reviewed)
ESRB Rating: Mature
Developer: IO Interactive
Release Date: 2013-02-01
URL

The relatively recent trend of repackaging franchises from the last generation of consoles into a single, affordable, high definition package has seen its successes and failures. While some have set the standard as the definitive editions of beloved cult classics (the Ico/Shadow of the Colossus collection comes to mind here), others have served merely as convenient packages that fit franchises onto single discs, without enough visual overhaul to immediately justify repurchasing content that series fans likely already own.

There are a number of possible reasons for this trend. The first is that upscaling content and packing it onto the high-capacity media available today is a far cheaper proposition than developing a new title from the ground up. Another is an effort to capitalize on the nostalgia of gamers for long running series whose earliest (frequently seminal) titles haven't yet been available on the current crop of consoles. It wouldn't be hard to argue that Nintendo, for example, has turned repeated repackaging of well-liked material into a high margin art form.

But from a less cynical perspective, collections comprising a sequential run of titles in a popular series of titles also allow the player to view the growth of a franchise with respect not only to technical achievement, but also to game mechanics as well. Control schemes, narrative tropes, and AI behaviors that were innovative a decade ago might seem archaic by today's standards, and it can be fascinating to see how franchises that have been relatively well received over a long period of time changed to address shifting expectations from gamers along the way, as well as how gracefully they've aged.

The Hitman franchise first appeared on the PC in 2000, offering a unique take on the stealth genre. At their best, stealth games can be viewed as tense puzzles, and throughout multiple titles the most memorable Hitman missions certainly hit that mark. In late 2012, Hitman: Absolution was released the current crop of consoles. Likely in an effort to allow players new to the franchise to catch up with the exploits of Agent 47 with the release of a new title in the series, the Hitman franchise has now been given the upscaling treatment with the Hitman HD Trilogy.

While Hitman HD Trilogy isn't truly a comprehensive package of the Agent 47's appearances prior to this console generation (given that it doesn't include the original PC-only Hitman: Codename 47, HD Collection is still a fairly complete package. It should be noted, though, that these titles were already collected in Hitman Trilogy in 2007, though that title was only available for the PS2 and PC.

In any case, unlike many other HD collections that have been released in recent memory, the Hitman HD Trilogy isn't a packaging of material that has only been released separately to this point. As such, the most compelling reason for its existence is arguably its high definition presentation. But as has so often been the case with HD rereleases, while the originally non-HD games have been upscaled, there doesn't appear to have been much texture work to smooth out the rough edges.

Also, as has been the case with many of collected franchises we've seen recently, many of the game mechanics used by Hitman haven't aged all that gracefully. Since its inception, the Hitman series has been regarded by many as a shooter that values observation and planning over aggression. But as is the case for stealth games in general and the Hitman series in particular, some of the earliest games, for all their flexibility, are painful trial and error affairs. The most frustrating thing about Hitman titles is that failure often occurs without a clear reason.

But it's easy to see the series gaining its footing as it goes on. While Silent Assassin has plenty of weak spots, Contracts sees the franchise becoming more sure of its approach. By the time Blood Money rolled around, the developers clearly had a firm idea of what makes for an enjoyable Hitman game, and it's easily the included title that offers the best overall experience.

For those fond of the series and who wish to own the most comprehensive console edition to date, Hitman HD Trilogy is a solid decision, particularly at its budget price. Having said that, it's arguable that Absolution is the only one of the included titles with enough fun factor to warrant another playthrough for those that have already completed it. And since those enamored of the series may already own the aforementioned Hitman Trilogy, there may not be enough extra incentive to warrant a purchase.

However, those whose first exposure to the franchise came with last fall's generally well-received Hitman: Absolution may find pleasure in delving into Agent 47's past exploits. Few franchises have done as well at getting better as they've gone along, and the history lesson alone may be worth the price of admission. To fully appreciate what Hitman brought to the table in its earlier incarnations, though, players will have to be willing to forgive a relatively painful difficulty curve or view some of the game mechanics of those titles as relics of another gaming age. But the sense of accomplishment that accompanies a perfect hit may well be worth it.

7

Music

Books

Film

Recent
Music

A Certain Ratio Return with a Message of Hope on 'ACR Loco'

Inspired by 2019's career-spanning box set, legendary Manchester post-punkers A Certain Ratio return with their first new album in 12 years, ACR Loco.

Books

Oscar Hijuelos' 'Mambo Kings Play the Songs of Love' Dances On

Oscar Hijuelos' dizzyingly ambitious foot-tapping family epic, Mambo Kings Play the Songs of Love, opened the door for Latinx writers to tell their stories in all their richness.

Music

PM Picks Playlist 2: Bamboo Smoke, LIA ICES, SOUNDQ

PopMatters Picks Playlist features the electropop of Bamboo Smoke, LIA ICES' stunning dream folk, Polish producer SOUNDQ, the indie pop of Pylon Heights, a timely message from Exit Kid, and Natalie McCool's latest alt-pop banger.

Film

'Lost Girls and Love Hotels' and Finding Comfort in Sadness

William Olsson's Lost Girls and Love Hotels finds optimism in its message that life tears us apart and puts us back together again differently.

Music

Bright Eyes' 'Down in the Weeds' Is a Return to Form and a Statement of Hope

Bright Eyes may not technically be emo, but they are transcendently expressive, beatifically melancholic. Down in the Weeds is just the statement of grounding that we need as a respite from the churning chaos around us.

Film

Audrey Hepburn + Rome = Grace, Class, and Beauty

William Wyler's Roman Holiday crosses the postcard genre with a hardy trope: Old World royalty seeks escape from stuffy, ritual-bound, lives for a fling with the modern world, especially with Americans.

Music

Colombia's Simón Mejía Plugs Into the Natural World on 'Mirla'

Bomba Estéreo founder Simón Mejía electrifies nature for a different kind of jungle music on his debut solo album, Mirla.

Music

The Flaming Lips Reimagine Tom Petty's Life in Oklahoma on 'American Head'

The Flaming Lips' American Head is a trip, a journey to the past that one doesn't want to return to but never wants to forget.

Music

Tim Bowness of No-Man Discusses Thematic Ambition Amongst Social Division

With the release of his seventh solo album, Late Night Laments, Tim Bowness explores global tensions and considers how musicians can best foster mutual understanding in times of social unrest.

Music

Angel Olsen Creates a 'Whole New Mess'

No one would call Angel Olsen's Whole New Mess a pretty album. It's much too stark. But there's something riveting about the way Olsen coos to herself that's soft and comforting.

Film

What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .

Music

Masma Dream World Go Global and Trippy on "Sundown Forest" (premiere)

Dancer, healer, musician Devi Mambouka shares the trippy "Sundown Forest", which takes listeners deep into the subconscious and onto a healing path.

Music

Alright Alright's "Don't Worry" Is an Ode for Unity in Troubling Times (premiere)

Alright Alright's "Don't Worry" is a gentle, prayerful tune that depicts the heart of their upcoming album, Crucible.

Music

'What a Fantastic Death Abyss': David Bowie's 'Outside' at 25

David Bowie's Outside signaled the end of him as a slick pop star and his reintroduction as a ragged-edged arty agitator.

Music

Dream Folk's Wolf & Moon Awaken the Senses with "Eyes Closed" (premiere)

Berlin's Wolf & Moon are an indie folk duo with a dream pop streak. "Eyes Closed" highlights this aspect as the act create a deep sense of atmosphere and mood with the most minimal of tools.

Television

Ranking the Seasons of 'The Wire'

Years after its conclusion, The Wire continues to top best-of-TV lists. With each season's unique story arc, each viewer is likely to have favorites.

Film

Paul Reni's Silent Film 'The Man Who Laughs' Is Serious Cinema

There's so much tragedy present, so many skullduggeries afoot, and so many cruel and vindictive characters in attendance that a sad and heartbreaking ending seems to be an obvious given in Paul Reni's silent film, The Man Who Laughs.

Music

The Grahams Tell Their Daughter "Don't Give Your Heart Away" (premiere)

The Grahams' sweet-sounding "Don't Give Your Heart Away" is rooted in struggle, inspired by the couples' complicated journey leading up to their daughter's birth.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.