Hatred – Review

Title   Hatred
Developer  Destructive Creations
Publisher  Destructive Creations
Platform  PC
Genre  Isometric shooter
Release Date  June 1st, 2015
Official Site  http://www.hatredgame.com/

To say Hatred had a difficult launch is something of an understatement. The first trailer shocked and angered a vocal part of the gaming community, much to the joy of “gamers” everywhere. It was taken off Steam Greenlight, and then re-added by Gabe Newell himself, as gamers tossed each other off because they could now refuse to buy it from a service in favour of pirating the game. GOG refused to sell it. The developers confirmed a release date, saying it would’ve been out a week earlier but they would probably be too busy playing The Witcher 3 to bother releasing it. It wasn’t looking good, all told. But it’s out now, so it’s time to see whether the outrage was really worth it.

Hatred follows the story of an unnamed white guy, who looks like Jackie Estacado from The Darkness, going on a rampage. There’s no real reason behind it – he wants to die, and wants to take as many people with him as possible. About halfway through the game he actually finds a plot, and decides to blow up a nuclear power plant conveniently located not too far from his house. Other than that, the plot is non-existent. No reasoning, no explanation, just a man going on a killing spree.

Which is fine, so long as the actual killing is fun. Which it isn’t. The main problem is the fact that most of your enemies in the game are unarmed civilians, whose only means of defence is to run away screaming. The main objective of each level is to kill a certain number of these people, before moving to a new location or leaving the area entirely. It’s ridiculously easy, and the only challenge is maintaining enough interest to slaughter these people before you just get bored and turn the game off. There’s side missions to do in each mission, but these are usually nothing more than “kill everyone in this building”, which you’ll need to do anyway to have any hope of completing the objectives in later levels.

Eventually, police and the military will show up to take you down, and the game goes from being stupidly easy to being stupidly hard. After you’ve killed your required number of civilians, you’ll probably be out of ammo for most of your good weapons, making encounters with law enforcement annoyingly tough, even on Easy. Picking up ammo also seems to occur randomly, since even after murdering ten cops with pistols, I still seemed to be completely out of ammo for my handgun. And the only way to regain health at all is to execute enemies, which is hard to do when they’re all shooting you and most of the civilians are dead.

Executions are handled by injuring someone and then pressing Q to show a small scene where you stab or shoot them. These are supposed to be brutal and uncomfortable, but they’re actually just irritating and pace-breaking, and nowhere near as violent as the game thinks they are. Slashing someone’s throat is uncomfortable the first time you see it, but after that you see the same executions so often that they become normal. Some of them are straight-up hilariously bad – your guy can apparently stamp on someone’s head so hard it explodes, apparently. And most of the time he just hits them over the head with the butt of his gun, an execution so dull you might as well not have bothered.

And that’s really the whole problem with Hatred. It’s just so pedestrian. It tries so hard to be shocking, violent, and controversial, but fails miserably on all fronts. It’s so stupidly po-faced that it’s almost funny, yet it’s not even so bad it’s funny. It’s just plain boring. Boring gunplay, boring executions, boring character, boring everything. It wants you to stand up and take notice, but it leaves you wanting to go for a nap.

The environments are at least fairly big, so you can easily run around getting lost for a few minutes if you so desire. And the detail on the environments and buildings is very good, making the world feel realistic. But the isometric camera obscures half of the action at the bottom of the screen, so you can’t see where you’re being shot at a lot of the time. The black and white filter looks cool for two minutes until you realise it ultimately means you can’t see anything, and your character gets lost so easily in the fray, along with your targeting reticule. And the animations, when seen up-close in cutscenes, are cartoonish at best. It all adds up to a messy experience to look at, unless you particularly enjoy determining which collection of black pixels is your character.

But the voice acting. Oh dear God. Your dude spouts so much nonsense that it’s a miracle the voice actor maintained a straight face. He growls out bullshit philosophy, refers to police as “human shields”, and at one point calls someone he just shot in the face a cunt for absolutely no reason. It’s all delivered with zero conviction, and somehow manages to be outperformed by the dozens of screaming people who manage to make lines like “he shot me!” Oscar-worthy by comparison to the main script. And why do all the cops insist on yelling “aim for the head” when they converge on you? Is your character secretly a zombie?

But none of this matters. Hatred doesn’t matter, even though it thinks it does. It wants to be a murder spree to make a statement against modern shooters that have a meaning and real story, but is so trapped by the constraints of the genre and its own reality that it turns a killing spree into a boring session of target practice. It wants to be gratuitous and shocking, but isn’t willing to go beyond mindless violence, something which video games have been giving us for years. It wants to be taken seriously, but it has a fucking nuclear power plant located a train ride away from the main character’s house which has “666″ as the password to cause a meltdown. It’s a dull shooter that can’t get its head out if its own arse long enough to notice it forgot how to be fun.

  • Environments are big enough to wander around and find new things each time
  • Lets you kill lots of people
  • Murdering defenceless civilians is really dull after about thirty seconds
  • Black and white graphics make it near impossible to keep up with the action
  • Voice acting and dialogue is laughably poor
  • Nowhere near as gory and controversial as it really wants to be

Hatred is a true failure of a game. It fails to be fun. It fails to make any kind of statement. It fails to be shockingly violent and controversial. It fails to stir any ire within me. It's just boring. Killing unarmed civilians is boring, the black and white filter is dull, the main character is pathetic and tiresome, and his dialogue is just straight-up bad. There are almost no redeeming qualities in Hatred, save for some intelligent level design. But beyond that, it's impossible to recommend the game to anyone, even those who revel in its release. Congrats, gamers. You just went and proved that your wet dream really is a pile of wank.

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