Hatred - A controversially uncontroversial review
Let us get this out of the way. I am not a prude and I am a big fan of some very violent and offensive things. This review is based solely on Hatred as a game and I am not in any way squeamish or offended by the subject matter, so without further ado here is our thoughts on one of the most controversial games of the last few years.
Hatred is a twin stick style shooter where you are the villain (who looks like a rock musician) partaking in a mass killing spree. The game itself, due to its premise, was the subject of a lot of controversy last year where for a while it was removed from Steam. This was however one of the best things that could have happened to the game as underlying all this drama is a fairly plain shooter with some dubious design choices.
The game begins with you as a psychotic killer loading up weaponry ready to die, go out into the world, and take as many people down with him as you can. Once you finish the tutorial section you are out into the world and have to kill as many people as possible. While at first this is pretty shocking (think the airport scene in Modern Warfare) after your thousandth kill it starts to become pretty benign.
Your first level gives you some crowded areas to kill in such as a funeral procession, a supermarket and a house party with the fight eventually ending up at a police station. From then on you enter the sewers heading to a larger town in search of more to kill. Like Grand Theft Auto the more people you kill, the more attention you gain from the police, the more arrive to try and kill you and here in lies an issue I had with the game. While this sounds like a good idea, in a game that promoted mass killing I often sound myself sneaking away from the cops in order to not engage in a fire fight that I know I would find difficult.
The game has an unusual life system where you replenish your health by doing executions. Doing these for the first time is pretty shocking, but quickly these become a chore as you have to do them very regularly in order to stay alive. It also requires you to not quite kill people as you wander around so that you can execute them. It’s a great idea in theory but as a lot of things in Hatred does not quite pan out. Another massive issue is the button for executions is the same as the button for changing weapon which means that you often find yourself trying to execute but instead switching to an empty gun.
Visually the game is lovely to look at. The black and white film noir with selected colour is used to great effect and really makes the game stand out. While this game never taxed my graphics card it certainly is one that other indie developers could use as a template for good graphical design.
The controls however is where the game really falls down. The 2 main options are of course mouse/keyboard and a controller but both have their share of issues. Personally for this style of game I prefer and mouse/keyboard combo which works in theory but sees all the other keys mapped awkwardly around WASD which makes performing certain tasks chore some. A re-keybind is essential when playing the game. A controller on the other hand makes precise aiming almost impossible with the cross hairs either stuck a few feet in front of you or alternatively whipping about at light break speeds when manual targeting. Driving cars is equally as fiddly and reminded me a lot of playing Micro Machines in terms of handling but with far more crap on the road to get stuck on.
Hatred has such promise and I really hope this game gets a sequel as there are a few changes that could really improve the experience. I feel game really should be more of a score attack. Less police against you and simply make it about not letting people escape. Part of the fun is going through a shopping centre trying to destroy and kill everything without having to worry about the cops shooting you while you are in the crowd. Secondly I should be able to put my gun away and blend into the crowd. Why can I not run into the shopping centre conceal my weapon and blend in only to open fire in a heavily populated area. Finally the guns in the game are just not powerful enough, run out of bullets too quickly and require reloading too often. This game should be about fun and not ammo management. The ammo in the game is like an over demanding girlfriend who always wants presents and can never be satisfied.
In the end Hatred just isn’t fun to play. There is pretty much no variation across the games seven levels and in the end the clunky controls, the weak feeling weapons and the overly difficult cops turn what could have been a fun score attack game into a very basic tedious shooter.
I feel there is a lot of potential here and I really hope that should Hatred 2 ever get made than the developer with take criticism on board and turn this into a game that is as enjoying and as shocking to play as it should have been.