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Hatred (PC) artwork

Hatred (PC) review


"Hatred will go down in history, but is that widespread recognition due to remarkable design? Not hardly."


“My name is not important.”

While the sentiment suits the long-haired, gravely-voiced protagonist in Destructive Creation’s freshman effort, Hatred, it definitely doesn't apply to the product itself. The game will go down in history, but is that widespread recognition due to remarkable design? Not hardly.

In Hatred, you assume the role of a nameless killer who is sick of the world around him. He decides to go out in a suicidal blaze of glory while taking as many people with him as possible. There isn’t any story beyond that; you just grab whatever guns you can find and kill as many people as you can until you die. The lack of depth is accompanied by painfully corny dialogue, which often is delivered in somewhat stilted style by NPCs. They make odd comments at times, and refer to you as "the psychopath." The developers readily admit that gameplay was their focus, not story.

You progress across seven chapters by killing the required number of civilians, and eventually members of the police or army. In each level, there also are sub-objectives you can complete to earn respawn tokens. These become crucial as the levels go on and the difficulty ramps up, and the system mostly works. The biggest issue is that if you die before earning a token, you're forced to restart a stage from the beginning.

You have three weapon slots available, as well room for grenades, Molotov cocktails, and flash bangs. However, you must gather the various guns and explosives by scavenging the surrounding area. Slowly, you go from dealing with police officers wielding shotguns and pistols, to facing down the army and their heavily armed vehicles. As you advance, you'll find that you wind up lacking sufficient firepower if you waste your heaviest arsenal on common pedestrians. Additionally, you only regain health by executing wounded NPCs. By the time you face heavily armed soldiers capable of soaking up several high-powered rounds, you often kill rather than cripple and that leaves you unable to regenerate health.

The base difficulty on even the easiest setting is unforgiving, so frustration mounts as you discover that the controls and camera fight against you as well. The 3D world's isometric viewing perspective feels excessively narrow at times. Though you can "aim," which shifts the camera in the cursor's direction, the camera floats oddly. And although you are able to work more accurately while aiming, you also move more slowly and may not catch up to the camera's position.

Mouse and keyboard controls are serviceable, at least, but you should avoid using the controller at all costs. Your crosshair range is incredibly short, and attempting to use the aim function with the controller's right stick causes the camera to drunkenly swerve in the general direction indicated. This quirk makes it nearly impossible to hit targets while on the move. And no matter which style of input you choose, the controls while driving are abysmal. Cars accelerate slowly and turn sharply. Your movement on foot corresponds naturally to your position on-screen, but movement in vehicles resembles the tank-like controls found in a game such as Resident Evil. Directing vehicles is thus an exercise in frustration, especially as most of them appear to be made of Paper Mache. You're only able to drive selected vehicles, as well, so you can rest assured this game won't replace Grand Theft Auto anytime soon as the default crime game.

The graphical style, which presents in grainy black and white, appears to have been settled on in order to disguise low-quality texture and animation work. At one point while playing, my character became stuck against a table and I discovered that motion blur is applied even to the character's basic running animation. If you pay much attention during any of the cutscenes, you’ll see why this is the case. The protagonist’s hair moves in unnatural tendrils, sometimes defying physics. That isn’t to say the art direction is bad overall, though; splashes of color that appear when fires start can make for some nice scenes, for instance. Given the vast moral panic leading up to the game's release, though, you'd expect graphics more visceral than those that are found here. Blood resembles somewhat off-red paint that bursts out of nowhere. Even animations depicting decapitation or crushed skulls are oddly sterile. It's baffling that this game earned itself an "Adults Only" rating for its content, while something like Mortal Kombat X did not.

With the graphics being in the state they are, you'd probably expect the game to run smoothly. There is some definite room for further optimization, however. On my PC, a mid-level gaming rig, the game ran with a sub-30 framerate on the default settings. I looked into it, and it sounds like even top-tier rigs have a hard time maintaining a consistent framerate. Problems arise particularly when a large amount of fire fills the screen, or during executions when a large amount of background detail is on display.

The game's one saving grace is its physics engine. Buildings crumble when rocked by gunshots and explosions. Fire slowly consumes them as it creeps onward in search of fuel. You can blast the second story floor in multi-level buildings to drop victims to their deaths. Even character movements show nice touches, such as the occasional limping animation. The level of competency during such moments, however, is unfortunately overshadowed by the game's other flaws.

Overall, Hatred is a second- or third-rate isometric shooter. It's nothing genre-defining, and people will remember it more for the controversy that surrounded its release than for any of its gameplay accomplishments. It shows promise at times, and sometimes is a fun--if mindless--shooter. But the repetitive nature of the missions, coupled with the technical issues, tend to discourage long play sessions. If you survive to the end of the campaign, the game will likely wind up languishing in your back catalogue from that point onward. Given its $20 price tag at launch, you'd do well to consider waiting for a sale unless you have lots of money to spare.

Here's hoping Destructive Creations takes player feedback to heart and builds on the momentary flashes of brilliance found here to produce a more refined follow-up in the future.

3/5

Pawkeshup's avatar
Freelance review by Pawkeshup D'Amour (June 01, 2015)

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joseph_valencia posted June 02, 2015:

Great review.

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