I fear my review won’t sway either side of the Hatred argument. Opponents will ignore that its level of violence is tame compared to other mainstream games, and supporters will buy it regardless of how mediocre the gameplay really is. There’s some impressive talent behind this new studio, and with some more polish and an engaging storyline, this game could’ve been something to please everyone. Unfortunately, they went the shock value route, and we’re left with a lackluster and meaningless game.
WHAT WE LIKED
º Impressive explosions with great physics and fire effects.
º Familiar gameplay is easy to pick up and play.
º Provides some challenging and intense firefights.
WHAT WE DISLIKED º A vapid game based around killing innocent people.
º Shortage of diversity to the gameplay and options.
º Really short and not much in terms of replayability.
How does one approach reviewing a game like Hatred? It seems like most people are either gamers who enjoy experiences like this, or you deplore the idea of supporting something that’s so heinous. There’s so much controversy to this game, it’s unbelievable considering how tame it actually is. No matter how my or anyone else’s review turns out, the game will likely be remembered over its controversy alone. This for me is really unfortunate, considering that like Postal and other games that stirred up massive amounts of much-ado before their release; this game simply isn’t very engaging.
While everyone was debating the morals of this ‘mass-murder simulator’, accusing supporters of being psychopaths while the others defended their rights to enjoy whatever content they wish to support, we all forgot to ask ourselves the bigger questions; will this game even be enjoyable? Obviously, that’s a hard question to answer when you’re debating the ethics of it, but like all these outings- the quality took a backseat to the controversy. The outrage drove a spike between party lines, and once it did, it was guaranteed to make the developers money.
I’m here to tell you the truth as I see it, to look at the game as objectively as possible. Yes, there’s some fun destructive bits to this game- but overall the game becomes a bore rather quickly.
You play the game as ‘The Crusader’ a man who decides he’s tired of people, and wants to go and kill as many as he can. This is obviously the biggest driving factor for sales, and is also the reason the game feels weightless. Shooting people who have done nothing to you in a story that is only driven by your cruel actions ultimately feels lifeless. Your character doesn’t arc, the story doesn’t improve, and it ends up being a very short experience. For those who doesn’t mind Hatred’s lack of substance, I’m sure that’s not your concern. For people like me, I tend to only find enemies through conflict or necessity.
The gore, if that’s what you’re into, is kinda dull. Pulling people up to your waist, slitting their throat and then rinsing and repeating lacks any emotional weight. You’ll be forced to do them regardless though, because you need the health you only get by executing people. After a few of these killings, they lose any ‘charm’ you might get out of them- somehow making the task of merciless homicide an indifferent experience. If this is the selling point for the game, I just feel Mortal Kombat X’s fatalities are far gorier, and has actual personality to them.
This of course is another problem with the game- ‘The Crusader’ and the game in return comes across void of any personality. The game looks and plays very seriously, but features dumb one-liners and half playful comedy (like a train station announcing a delay after you start shooting it up). The tone suffers due to the developer’s absence of commitment. It lacks that shock humor of Postal, and doesn’t come across as realistic in any way. Simply put, there’s nothing charming or frightening about Hatred.
In terms of gameplay- it plays alright. If you could see me typing this right now, you would’ve seen me give the biggest shrug I’ve ever pulled off. The game uses a twin-stick setup, where you aim with the right stick and move with the left. Anyone who’s ever played a similar shooter (like Hotline Miami) should feel right at home. That doesn’t mean it’s up to the same standard, just that it won’t take you long to pick it up. As you run through the environments, you point your cursor and pull the trigger until anyone in your path is dead. Again, there’s nothing revolutionary here, and to be honest, it feels a tad dated. For a game designed to take out as many people as you can with an arsenal, the game is severally lacking in all of the categories. I dislike slaughtering unarmed civilians, and it’s far more fun taking on police, simply because they have guns and I’ve listened to too much NWA. The maps are huge, and sometimes are surprisingly complex. There’s tons of various locations to duck into when you’re seeking out those random citizens. Finding crowds of people in the middle of funerals or rallies provides incentive to seek out all corners of the map, but only if you really enjoy the gameplay of senselessly slaughtering. The game does feature a lot of surprises to find.
Their use of Unreal Engine 4 is actually surprisingly good, and impressed me quite a few times. The destruction of homes is thoroughly impressive, and having a whole building explode into pieces as you drive through it is awesome. Explosions send elements flying all over the map, making you feel like a real bad ass. There’s some well designed levels utilizing some really cool effects, like a level where you shoot your way from the back of a train to the front.
The art design is a little hit or miss. The world is presented in an isometric perspective, except during cutscenes and executions, with ultra low saturation. The use of color is artistic, but also helpful- explosive barrels are bright red (as well as the blood) and you can see police lights as they come speeding onto the scene. However, when you see things like neon lights, TVs or soda machines also utilizing the vivid colors, it just becomes questionable of what kind of direction they were going for.
There’s also some real sloppiness when it comes to game’s design as well. Enemies will run circles around you, as you slowly stomp over a pleading person, no one thinking to shoot you before you plunge your knife into their skull. You can’t seem to miss people who are right in front you, no matter where you cursor is. There’s clipping issues, frame rate issues and teleporting models. If a car clips your leg as you’re running around, you die. All of these problems are simply ignored, and it shows a real disconnect from fundamental game design.
On the whole, this is an average game, with some impressive physics. I actually hope the studio gets some money from the hype machine they helped stoke because I honestly believe this young studio will be able to develop more complex and interesting games. This game however was created for one reason- to upset the news shows, and raise up the whole ‘violence in games’ issue yet again. They’re not trying to make a statement- just like how they’re not condoning murder- they made this game in order to sell copies and pre-order shirts. Congratulations Destructive Creations, you’ve proven that people are easily offended- why don’t you prove in your next game you can actually impress.