Hitman: HD Trilogy PS3 Review

Publisher: Square Enix  Developer: IO Interactive  Genre: Stealth  Players: 1 

Age Rating: 18+  Other console/handheld formats: Xbox 360

As you can often see the evolution of the series, HD collections of games can be a very interesting thing. Take Hitman: HD Trilogy for instance, when played in the order that the three included games (Hitman 2: Silent Assassin, Hitman Contracts and Hitman: Blood Money) were released you can certainly see the huge steps that developer IO Interactive made over time with the popular series.

The first and oldest offering is of course Hitman 2: Silent Assassin, which sadly plays like a complete and utter shambles in this day and age, while Contracts remains a significant improvement, and, finally, Blood Money is definitely the standout game of the trio. The original game is absent, which is a shame as it was never released on consoles, and its inclusion would have certainly been nice to show off the series’ evolution from 2000 to 2006.

Hitman 2 opens up with main character Agent 47 enjoying a quieter existence as a gardener in Sicily for his friend Father Vittorio. When Vittorio is kidnapped, 47 returns to his life as an assassin. As Hitman games have always done when played stealthily, Silent Assassin  has an emphasis on disguising yourself. The problem here is that the AI is so unpredictable that you just never know what to expect from them, often leaving you to wonder why the mission has suddenly gone pear shaped. Not only that, but the game also feels clunky to play today, and I must admit that it made me all the more appreciate how the series has evolved over time.

As a sequel, Hitman: Contracts is more of the same as Silent Assassin, although it’s actually the game that the latter should have been in terms of its superior mechanics. At the beginning of the game, 47 is wounded, which results in him reliving some of his previous hits. Said hits are actually those from the very first game, so you could say that the original game does exist in this trilogy in some form.  The AI is much more relaxed and less unpredictable than in Silent Assassin, while the animations and controls feel a lot more fluid and the disguises feel a lot more useful. Despite all the major improvements, it’s still definitely Blood Money where the series truly got into its stride.

Yes, Hitman: Blood Money (available on the PS3 for the very first time in this trilogy) is not only the best game in this trilogy, but it’s arguably the best game in the entire series. IO Interactive added depth to each hit, and while it’s still possible to put a bullet in you targets or choke the life out of them, it seems rather plain when you are able to make many of their deaths look like tragic accidents as opposed to a bald-headed hitman going to work, leaving obvious murders in his wake. True, you could do this in the previous two games, although it was a lot less limited, and there’s so much satisfaction to finding the triggers that result in assassinating your targets in a manner that doesn’t involve typical weapons.

Visually, the three included games have had a decent job done on them to spruce them up into modern HD, although there’s no getting away from the fact that all the games are looking dated, particularly Silent Assassin with its crude character models and textures and its clunky animations. Even Blood Money, the newest game in the package, is looking tired, which is understandable considering that the game was released back in 2006.

Hitman: HD Trilogy is comprised of one poor game, one decent game and one of the high-points of the series. The evolution over the three games is certainly interesting, and you can feel through each game that IO Interactive was growing more confident in their series. While Blood Money does remain one of the strongest games in the series, this trilogy may prove to be disappointing to those who enjoyed Silent Assassin and even Contracts at the time, with the former being a complete mess and both games feeling clunky. Historically, those new to these games will be intrigued, and, warts and all, this trilogy will prove to be a history lesson that climbs from low to high over the course of the three games.