by Johnathan Irwin
reviewed on PC
Train Of Controversy
It's been a long time since I've seen a game garner as much hatred as, well, Hatred. From the get go the gaming community has been divided over this twin stick shooter with a brutal premise. Kill everything that moves. It garnered so much attention so quickly, that it became an overnight gaming taboo that only accelerated from there. When it picked up the Adults Only rating, I was convinced I had to get in on this. What is in this game that is so bad that not only has it divided gamers, but also convinced the ESRB it was worth an AO rating on violence alone? I didn't know what I was in for, I was hoping I'd have some fun while trying to figure out what the fuss was about.
A Violent (Lack Of) Narrative
His name is not important, what is important is what he's going to do. So he claims, anyway. Hatred throws us into the shoes of The Antagonist, a brooding madman who appears to be a warped love child of Glenn Danzig and Nathan Explosion. His desire, or as he slates it, his mission is simple: Kill everyone he can before someone kills him. I bet he was just a thrill to be around at parties, hm? That's the long and short of the narrative. Kill or be killed as you lead The Antagonist onward through the game and progressively more difficult levels.
While a lot of the violence is directed at unarmed civilians, it's not a murderous walk in the park the entire time. Shortly after your spree starts, police begin showing up, and while the typical patrol unit is easily dealt with on their own over time the game begins to throw more units at you, as well as more powerful ones such as SWAT teams or even Military response in later levels. The ramping up in difficulty is almost overwhelming at times, forcing you to switch up your tactics from run and gun to hide and ambush quite often, making the later levels more interesting in terms of combat. While dealing with them, you're still encouraged to rack up the body count while fulfilling main and side objectives.
Don't expect anything much different, the main and side objectives still pertain entirely to killing people but in perhaps more unique ways. My particular favorite involved causing a horrible accident about midway through the game, and while it had by far the least amount of kills seen in a side objective it caused a massive inferno and explosion which really showed off the destruction possible in the game. Grenades can cause the same effects on a smaller scale, it was just really nice to see the entire side of a building blown away outside of a Battlefield title.
When the end of the game is finally in sight, it ends in a manner that has to make you smile. Love or hate the game, anyone who sees the ending is going to smile because of how cheesy it is. The levels are fun and become progressively more challenging, and the writing has to be tongue in cheek. There's no way that it isn't, despite the inital look of it being the darkest, most violent game of all time, what it really is is a true spiritual successor to the original Postal. It's something that's been long overdue.
Stick To Keyboard And Mouse
Although it's odd that this falls under the category of a twin stick shooter, because that would imply that the best way to play would be with a controller. While it is more fluid to move around with a controller, you sacrifice your accuracy a lot because the enhanced aim mechanic simply doesn't work well when using a controller. With a mouse, you're able to fine tune your aiming with ease while with a controller, the moment you pull the left trigger to aim further your crosshair will shoot as far across the screen as possible; completely negating the point if you're not even sure you're going to hit your target.
That's the most glaring flaw with the game, but there are a few others that show their faces from time to time. More often than not, the AI is passable for this sort of game with civilians running away from the chaos, but there are times where they will run right towards it. Sometimes, they are trying to pick up a weapon off of a fallen combatant. In that instance, it makes sense. Other times, it looks like a pathing issue as someone will run away and then run right back at you for an even easier kill. The pathing issues also sometimes plague law enforcement, as sometimes it actually looks like they're going to organize a push against you only to get stuck on each other in a doorway for a mass of easy kills.
Other than those problems, the smaller glitches that pop up from time to time are less of a hindrance and more of a brief annoyance. Though, it is amusing when The Antagonist's hair shoots straight upward for a few moments as though he were calling upon powers unknown, I'll throw that into the glitch category and assume that's not working as intended.
Mindless Fun In Senseless Violence
While far from what I would consider an Adults Only game, Hatred's context and overflowing violence is definitely what leaves people divided. Leaving the controversy at the door, Hatred is a solid 90's isometric action game, with 80's horror cheese, and cringe inducing parodying of what is considered edgy. I don't love Hatred, but I certainly don't hate it. I had fun with it, and in the end that's the most important thing for any game to be: fun.
Great environmental destruction, varied levels, increasingly difficult enemy encounters, amusing ending.
Playing with a controller is ineffective, AI pathing often leads to very easy kills, numerous small annoying glitches