Credit where credit’s due, Hatred is a masterpiece. Not as a game, mind you, the game itself is a derivative, dull, poorly executed, nihilistic and boring twin stick shooter that doesn’t even manage to capture an ounce of the shock value of Postal, a game released 18 years prior. What Destructive Creations deserves credit for is the way they marketed the game. The developers played both the media and the audience like a harp, finding a niche to exploit and the rumbling undercurrent of dissatisfaction within a certain group of gamers who believe that everything in gaming is going to hell (or maybe more precisely, heaven) in a handbasket because of political correctness.
This same niche wedged the media, playing on all of the bugbears that are perceived by both sides of the whole GamerGate debacle, as what’s wrong with modern gaming, ensuring that each side of the debate – and I use that term advisedly – would fuel the other side. Every negative article would cause the game’s supporters to up their actions and rhetoric, leading to more negative articles and so on.. Destructive Creations created a perfect storm for their release, guaranteeing that no matter if there game turned out to be bad – and it definitely is – the gamers the title was aimed squarely at would be all but honour bound to defend it to the death, and any negative review would be seen as the “corrupt” gaming media trying to shout down a developer that didn’t conform to their “Social Justice Warrior” standpoint. If only half as much effort and creativity had gone into the game.
Players take the role of a stereotypical looking greasy haired, trenchcoat clad homicidal git and proceed through a number of grey-brown levels shooting people, most of whom are defenceless and then dealing with the cops, army and other armed types who show up to defend the helpless. That’s about it. Wounding a target or kicking someone to the ground gives the player the opportunity to perform an execution. This is the only way to regain health, so in pretty much every encounter, especially in the later stages of the game in which there are more armed opponents, combat devolves to the same pattern of killing as many targets as possible then running away to find an unarmed civilian to execute to regain health before heading back into the fray again. It’s tired, boring and repetitive. The various guns you pick up aren’t interesting, the opponents are so cookie cutter that it appears there are only a handful of skins, the AI is woeful, the controls are mishandled to such an extent that they are unsatisfying on keyboard and mouse AND gamepad.
Beside the technical issues, of which there are many, the biggest problem with Hatred isn’t that it goes too far, it is that it doesn’t go far enough. If you’re aiming to shock, don’t simply trot out the same thing Running With Scissors did nearly 20 years ago. Give me blood and death and gore and outrageous, confronting violence. Don’t give me monochrome Robotron starring a douchebag.
Why you should play this game?
- You really shouldn’t
- You wish Robotron was a nihilistic goth stereotype
- Free speech or something