Hatred PC Review
Hatred has caused a lot of controversy in the gaming community since its announcement, even going as far as to be removed from Steam’s Greenlight campaign. Of course Valve eventually pulled a U-turn on that, which captivated a lot of attention; boosting it to the most voted game at the time. The attraction that Hatred brought upon itself for being ‘ultra-violent’ is one of the best marketing strategies I’ve ever seen because in reality it is nothing more than a sub-par twin-stick shooter with bad controls, laughable dialog and voice acting, the most insultingly stereotypical main character I’ve ever seen, and eye-straining graphics. Although, it was still the top-selling game on Steam upon it’s release, placing above Grand Theft Auto V and the recent, highly praised, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt.
The game opens with a simple tutorial that involves murdering a sedated captive and swiftly moves on to our unnamed protagonist letting us know that he just “fu**ing hates this world and the worms feasting on its carcass”. Once he’s finished loading him self up with guns and grenades he opens the front door to his lovely white-picket fenced house and neatly trimmed garden, then the mayhem begins. Kill 50 civilians is the goal, but it’s not too long before some armed cops arrive, at which point it’s time for fight or flight. The mini-map also shows some optional side-objectives such as ‘ruining’ a house-party, or shooting up a train station. They are a nice way to rack up a bunch of kills in one place and also reward an extra ‘respawn’. Although they are not very reliable as I often found myself returning with almost no health, or ammo, and surrounded by a firing squad.
The controls are your basic twin-stick shooter layout. You can hold three guns at a time and 4 of each grenade type, all with limited ammo that you must search for as well as scavenge from dead cops/soldiers. The grenades are your basic frag, incendiary, and flash-bang, where as your choice of guns are the standard pistol, a few machine guns, a flamethrower that rarely shows up, and a shotgun. Of course you can also just drop-kick poor souls to the ground as well, lining them up for execution, which refills some health and often goes into a animation of the main character brutally finishing off the downed person. As for movement you can walk, run, crouch, and dodge-roll your way around. Simple stuff, but it still somehow feels off.
As opposed to most twin-stick shooters your character in Hatred feels heavy, so the best tactic is to simply crouch walk your way around the map, picking off any armed persons as soon as they move into your line of sight, and executing anyone that would dare come near you. Even the vehicles are heavy and terribly slow, literally slower than simply running. This was not what I expected at all. One would think that a game aimed at sadists would enlist the ‘power fantasy’ strategy and allow the player to simple run around murdering innocents and executing as many people as they wanted, without much fear of being taken down. That’s not the case at all, in fact it can actually be quite challenging, which was a nice surprise.
There are 7 acts in all, each one similar to the last and also fairly short, depending on the difficulty and the number of times you die because your hand cramps up trying to hold the ‘show objectives’ button as you play. Now hear this – the game is in black and white, probably because our emo protagonist just can’t bare the thought of colour. Most of the game is also set in dark environments, so do you get the problem? You can’t see anything, or anyone for that matter. Although, the ‘show objectives’ key highlights people in red for your convenience, but there’s no way to toggle it on permanently, short of gluing the button down.
Another problem I often encountered, besides the incredibly glitchy graphics, clipping and stupid civilian AI, was the ‘aim’ control. Aiming allows the player to see further into the distance they are pointing at, but for some reason doesn’t increase your view equidistantly from the character. What I mean is that you can see much further ahead of yourself than behind, but even with the increased distance I still found that I was outmatched. Enemies can see you from apparently anywhere as long as there is nothing blocking their line of sight, but they can also see you through walls if you are close enough. So it’s possible to start getting shot at and have no idea which side your main attacker is on, leaving you frantically trying to quickly execute people to regain health as you run towards possible suspects based on your mini-map.
I’d also like to point out a semantic issue that is driving me mad. The main character is referred to as ‘The Antagonist’ by Destructive Creations, but an antagonist isn’t necessarily a bad guy, no. An antagonist is anyone that opposes the main character – the protagonist. Since the main character is the Rob Zombie looking guy that’s murdering anything in his path, he is actually the protagonist, sorry folks. Also, when I said ‘anything in his path’, of course I don’t mean any animals or people under 18. This world has no children or pets, only fully formed adults. For a game that’s trying to shock people, those are rather strange limitations, don’t you think? Is the best way to make your character dark and edgy really by having him say the ‘c’ word and be miserable for no reason?
Ultimately, I believe that the Hatred team simply tried to make something controversial in the hopes that nobody would notice how forgettable their title is. Even calling itself ‘ultra-violent’ is a stretch. Hotline Miami is ultra-violent and that’s celebrated with being one of the greatest titles in the last few years. I also often see Hatred being compared with Manhunt, so let me share my opinion on that. The protagonist in Manhunt was murdering for a reason, trapped in a Saw-like situation and forced to violently kill the people placed before him, but I still enjoyed it because the decent mechanics and basic plot were there to back it up. Hatred has neither.