As a full-priced release, Hitman: The Enhanced Collection features both 2006’s Hitman: Blood Money, as well as 2012’s Hitman: Absolution, now playable on Xbox One and PlayStation 4.
Calling them “HD Versions” feels like a misnomer – Blood Money was previously available on the Xbox 360 (and via Backwards Compatibility on Microsoft’s latest console), while Absolution was previously released on Playstation 3 and Xbox 360. That said, both are firmly in Remaster territory as opposed to a full remake.
The headline addition here is the visual upgrade, and therein the collection is a mixed bag. While Absolution (running on IO’s Glacier 2 Engine) was already an excellent looking game (and it’s arrival on newer consoles, particularly those that are 4K capable is still a treat for the eyes), it’s predecessor doesn’t fare as well.
Blood Money’s character models and animations are borderline caricature, but an increase in resolution and textures makes each level more vivid.
For those who are jumping in for the first time, Hitman games are traditionally multi-layered puzzles stuffed into detail-laden scenarios with numerous outcomes. Agent 47 is provided with a target (sometimes more than one), and most missions are an exciting cat and mouse chase of attempting to bump them off in the stealthiest way possible.
Using disguises, silenced weapons and good old fibre wire, you’ll skulk from mission to mission like a bald Grim Reaper. See a target working out in the gym? Drop weights on him so it looks like an accident. Bad guy wandering towards a balcony? Push them over and make a hasty getaway.
Blood Money remains the series’ finest entry to date for mission structure and selection. A truly globe-trotting experience, you’ll eliminate human-traffickers in France, retrieve an agent from a rehab clinic in the States and even try to kill the Vice-President in the White House.
Some missions are true standouts, the Opera House in France being an early favourite, while some, like a themed party taking place on two floors of a building (each with their own dress code) are sure to stump many would be agents working towards that coveted Silent Assassin rating.
Between missions you’ll buy weapon upgrades, and depending on your notoriety, guards may be on higher alert as you progress. Leave a trail of bodies and the papers will tell of a serial killer, slip in and out without a witness and they’ll show the result of the mission as an example or natural causes.
While it shows its age visually, Blood Money is still one of the greatest stealth titles ever made. Wonky aiming and a purely context-specific control scheme may dissuade newcomers, and enemy AI is still occasionally as erratic as it was over a decade ago, but the sheer amount of hours to be had playing within it’s world make it easy to recommend even today.
Absolution is often considered the outlier of the Hitman franchise, focusing on a decidedly more personal tale. Tasked with protecting a young woman from the agency he previously worked for, Agent 47 is funnelled through a more localised story, complete with an overly seedy plot but redeemed impressive voice work throughout.
Through the initial tutorial alone, you’ll throw guards from windows and balconies, throw knives, use sleeping pills on a guard’s coffee and use a slow-motion takedown to remove four guards at once.
While decidedly more linear than it’s predecessors (and it’s successors), Absolution’s longer development allowed for more modern conveniences to be added to the franchises – it’s control scheme will be more natural to anyone that has played a third-person title in the last decade, and its levels play out more as a series of smaller vignettes.
Some missions bring back the openness of Blood Money with the emergent gameplay options to match, but while hardcore fans were disappointed in 2012, there is still an enjoyable game here.
Also missing from this edition of Absolution is the Contracts Mode which allowed for challenges to be shared online. IO have mentioned that they would like to bring this back, but at launch, it’s absent due to the servers being unavailable.
What both titles have in common is a wealth of difficulty options. Blood Money and Absolution both give players plenty of choices to scale their difficulty, giving options that allow you to limit saves or increase enemy AI among other things. Blood Money allows you to bypass the campaign’s aforementioned notoriety system, while Absolution’s “Instinct” mechanic can be turned off completely for a more purist approach.
The Verdict – 4/5
Aside from a fresh lick of paint, both Hitman titles in the Enhanced Collection are still worth a play-through. While Absolution looks as good as a current generation title, and its campaign is still a fun ride, Blood Money stands out as the crown jewel not just of these two titles, but of the franchise as a whole.
• Blood Money has the best campaign of the series
• Absolution still looks great, and plays well
• Two games in one package
• Excellent difficulty options that balance challenge with accessibility
• Blood Money’s visuals are tough to look at
• Absolution is still very linear
• No contracts mode