Agent 47's Greatest Hits
Return to the scene of the crimes in HD
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I really love the Hitman series. It's one of the cleverest games out there because it challenges you to think your way through sometimes impossible-seeming situations. Sure you can try and blast your way through a level, leaving a trail of bodies and blood behind, at least at lower difficulty levels. But the true hitman can infiltrate a high-security facility using disguise and guile, find and eliminate a target, and have nobody else even know what happened. And if you can make it look like an accident, then you're a true professional who will leave the cops wondering if an assassination even took place at all.
That whole thinking-man's-shooter concept was kind of a new thing way back in 2002 when I first got hooked on the series. Metal Gear was around of course, but the Hitman series was a lot more clever-seeming to me than simply hiding inside an empty, upside-down box of bananas. Instead you would knock out a waiter or a security guard to gain access to a deeper part of the complex, until that disguise no longer held sway and you had to improvise yet again. That or you had to find the many hidden paths that wound you unseen closer and closer to your target.
I played most of the oldest Hitman games on the PS2, but also on the PC. While I could still play the PC games I owned, I no longer have a PS2 hooked up. So some of the great Hitman content was lost to me, until now.
Square Enix, which owns the series now, collected some of the older games, namely Hitman Contracts, Hitman 2: Silent Assassin and Hitman Blood Money, and put them all on one disk for either the PlayStation 3 or the Xbox 360. But these are not just the older games looking, well, old on your new hardware. All three of the titles have been re-mastered into HD, and for the most part, look really good. Blood Money especially could easily pass for a next generation title of course given that it was made for it, but even the older two have been given a healthy new shine.
The entire collection is on sale for $39.99, making it an incredible value. I think I played for about 35 hours total over all three games, though I do tend to take my time. What can I say? I enjoy observing the game world moving all around me, especially if I've found a particularly good disguise or a perfect spot to watch. There are actually a lot of little bits of humor in the game, conversations you can catch between characters and even a few inside jokes if you look really well. And of course getting the fabled Silent Assassin rating on each level requires careful observation and precision timing.
Beyond just the hours spent playing, the Trilogy is a good value because it allows you to play the titles in order, one after the other. The first time around there was a two year wait between titles, and it was easy to forget the subtle plot points which carried over between games. Heck, going back and playing some of the later levels even made the plot of the most recent Hitman title, Absolution, make a bit more sense because it came out six years after Blood Money, but based much of its plot on the actions from that game.
It was also neat to see the evolution of the series, and even the control schemes. When I loaded up Hitman 2: Silent Assassin, I was wondering why I couldn't distract the guards. But the whole tossing a coin thing wasn't learned until Blood Money, and later perfected in Absolution. Also, you might be surprised to learn that there was no way to hold your aim in the earlier games. You just pointed and shot. Even the cover mechanic didn't really come into play until later in the series. It was kind of cool to advance into the next game and see what new tricks 47 would learn. For the most part things stayed about the same, but it did get better as it went along. I even found a couple features like the knock-out syringe which didn't make it into Absolution, that I really miss now that I remembered having it.
In terms of the graphics, I was happy that they moved into the realm of high definition, so they look good even on a larger screen. A few of the levels, especially outdoor ones in Silent Assassin, kind of appear a bit fake in HD, like you are walking around on a movie set. But the alternative would have been a blocky, low-resolution mess, and this is definitely much better. Contracts looks pretty good, and I found myself really liking it this time around, even though it's historically my least favorite in the series overall. And of course Blood Money fits right in graphically.
The bottom line is that no Hitman fan should be without the trilogy in their library. The ability to play from nearly the beginning of the Agent 47 saga right into modern day (with the addition of the new Absolution game) is a real joy. And clever gaming is clever gaming no matter what year a title was released.
Be thankful that we live in a world where remaking older games into HD is becoming the norm. As the HD collections go, the Hitman HD Trilogy ranks at the top of the heap, packing in a ton of re-mastered, clever content, that any armchair assassin can enjoy.
The Hitman HD Trilogy collection earns a masterful 4.5 GiN Gems for literally letting us relive our favorite bald assassin's greatest hits.
John Breeden II is the Chief Editor of GiN. While a forward thinking man he admits to a fondness for older video games. You should have seen him at Videotopia. John can be contacted at : firstname.lastname@example.org.