Hitman HD Enhanced Collection review for Xbox One, PS4

Platform: Xbox One
Also On: PS4
Publisher: Warner Bros. IE
Developer: IO Interactive
Medium: Digital
Players: 1
Online: No

While I still believe that Red Dead Redemption 2 was the best game of last year, my favourite game of 2018 was undoubtedly Hitman 2. The fun formula of sandbox levels and dark humour the game established in its 2016 reboot was taken to new heights in the sequel, with the all kinds of fun and inventive new ways to take out bad people. Consequently, when Warner Bros. announced the surprise HD re-release of two older Hitman games, Blood Money and Absolution, I was totally on board, eager to check out what had come before in the long-running series.

I probably shouldn?t have gone in with such high expectations, because, while both Blood Money and Absolution have some decent elements, they also both highlight the massive jump in quality the series took after its reboot.

The older of the two, Blood Money, originally came out in 2006, and to say it feels dated would be an understatement. Even with its HD update, it still looks pretty rough — like, I played the original 360 version of the game not too long ago thanks to Xbox One?s backwards compatibility, and I can?t say that there?s a substantial improvement here.


The rest of the game doesn?t fare too much better either. The controls seem stiff and clunky, which makes stealth — one of the game?s most important features — difficult. The characters are equally cringe-worthy: the very first person you come across in the tutorial level is a circa-2004 gangbanger, who calls you a cracker in the most horrifyingly stereotypical ?black” voice you can imagine, right before you slam his head into a gate and knock him out. I?d like to say that things get better from there, but that would be a lie.

Still, even with the clunky controls, ugly graphics, and problematic characters, Blood Money does have one thing going for it: the number of ways you can kill your enemies. Though the sandbox levels here are nowhere near as good as they?d eventually become, you can see where the later games drew their inspiration from as you?re skulking about, laying traps and coming up with inventive ways to take people out.


The other game in the collection, Absolution, will look and play much more familiar to anyone who got introduced to the Hitman games by the reboot and sequel. This, of course, shouldn?t be surprising, since it first came out in 2012 on PS3 and Xbox 360, which means that the graphics may not quite be up to par with current-gen systems, but they don?t look as dated as they do in Blood Money.

Unfortunately, that?s where the similarities to the current games end. Hitman: Absolution was — and still is, I guess — a very linear game. There?s little opportunity to wander around causing chaos, and the kills here feel much less inspired than they do in later games, focusing more on gunplay than on, say, beating someone with a blueberry muffin, or exposing an electrical wire near a puddle and waiting for literal and figurative sparks to fly. The whole thing has a grim, dark atmosphere, and there?s none of the black humour that makes the whole thing feel so much fun in the current-gen games.

In other words, if you combine certain elements of Hitman: Blood Money (that is, the sandbox nature of the levels) with certain elements of Hitman: Absolution (specifically, the better-looking graphics), you?ll wind up with something closely approximating the current games. Taken on their own, however, you get a pair of fun-but-flawed experiences. While they?re still worth checking out if you?ve exhausted both Hitman and Hitman 2, considering that you can pick up either of those games for a lower price than Hitman HD Enhanced Collection, you?ll need to decide for yourself just how badly you need more Agent 47 in your life.

Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment provided us with a Hitman HD Enhanced Collection Xbox One code for review purposes.

Grade: B