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Summaryow the edge
The Good+ Decent gore and destruction effects + Amusingly over-the-top and heavy handed
The Bad- Poor controls - Poor graphics and optimization - Takes itself way too seriously - Repititious gameplay
The Bottom LineWhen a shocking tragedy occours, people resort to emotional appeal to find comfort in horror. Scapegoating, crocodile tears, scams, political correctness and conspiracy theories become very common amongst both the political left and right when tragedy strikes, and many forms of entertainment are promptly targeted. First, it was rock and roll music. Then comic books. Then violent movies and TV shows. Then, most prominently, video games. Controversy is rife with video games, and many popular titles, such as Grand Theft Auto, were targets of bold protests for the level of violence and adult themes. Figures like Jack Thompson would barge in a attempt to ruin the gory fun for everyone, but, luckily, their own hubris got up to them and faded promptly from the public eye.
It's been 2 years since Hatred was released. When the game was first announced, admittedly, I thought it was a joke, a publicity stunt. It wasn't, it was dead serious. I remember sharing bafflement and amusement over the nearly comical squabbling of both sides promoting and condemning this game for it's violent content and themes, even getting an AO rating from the ESRB. The controversy was at it's peak at that point, and then Hatred got released, and most critics realized the entire game was actually more moronic and heavy handed than they thought. It's been a while since I touched Hatred, but how is the game, how does it play, how does it feel in the end? Well, I know some may be touchy with the game, and I don't blame you. But don't worry, I played the game so you don't have to!
Hatred is about a charming young lad named Not Important, who wallows in edginess and cheap fast food, vaguely resembling the likes of Nathan Explosion..or Lobo, take your pick. One day, he has a psychotic break, declares war on the human race and decides to start his own campaign of genocide. Yeah, it's utterly ridiculous right from the start. Hatred is a top down shooter heavily inspired by another controversial video game, Postal. Only this time, there's no dark humor. Hatred is super serious and edgy in tone, complete with over-the-top, profanity-laden one liners spewed out by Not Important. All you do is go around certain levels and kill as much innocent people, cops and soldiers as possible, using a variety of armaments like your standard Glocks to AK-47s to flamethrowers, rocket launchers, molotovs and grenades. You progress through areas like cities, beach towns, surburban neighborhoods, and some other ones I won't go into detail here. You can pilot vehicles like cop cars and even APCs outfitted with machine guns, and execute people in a gruesome fashion. There's even a survival mode where you can unlock new weapons and play as other people on their quest for genocide.
Hatred boasted some features that impressed me: the gore and destruction effects are surprisingly well done. Most of the time, you're making a hell of a mess, lathered with dead bodies, blood pools, blown apart walls, buring cars and destroyed buildings. Blood trickles down walls, bodies stay for a bit, buildings burn to a crisp. It ties into the game's over the top nature, which Hatred becomes more and more over time. It's predictable in that field, but damn. The absolute edginess, attempts at taking itself seriously and overall tone is both amusing, and a bit disturbing, especially torwards the end. I won't spoil anything for those that barely heard of the game, but boy, it goes out with a bang. But, really, that's the only positives in a game where all you do is kill innocent people.
Hatred, as a game, is generic, even for a top down shooter. You just go from point A to point B, killing innocent people and causing a wake of wanton destruction along the way. The game controls really shoddily, regardless of keyboard or controller. The aiming is off entirely and the control mapping is really hard to get used to. For god's sake, I seen and played mediocre twin stick top down shooters that had more sound controls. The graphics, even running on the Unreal Engine, aren't very well optimized and I suffered a few crashes on my PC. The black and white color scheme used, while admittedly unique, makes the game harder to see and play. The audio aspect, while meaty, has very corny voice acting and barely any music.
The biggest elephant in the room is Hatred's serious tone, and that the character of Not Important can be offensive and shocking to some. I can get behind that Hatred's a joke made by a bunch of bored Polish developers (who, I might add, were former members of The Farm 51), but damn! Not Important is not your typical mature game character. He's not Duke Nukem, Tommy Vercetti or let alone the Postal Dude, which I may add, are all tongue-in-cheek. To some, Not Important is a sad, mentally broken, angry man who has nothing going for him, and he wants war, genocide, he wants innocent, normal people to pay with blood. I don't want to sound like I'm offended by the game's content. I'm not, actually. But there's quite a bit of difference with what Hatred is, and what other controversial games like Grand Theft Auto, Postal 2 and even more dangerous fare like Ethnic Cleansing are. Yes, I'd argue that a purely racist video game is probably worse than a game like Hatred, but that's something for another time.
Ultimately, Hatred is gonna be a mixed bag to some. I can understand that Hatred is going to be shocking and disgusting to some with the high level of violence and mature themes and images. I don't blame anybody not trying to touch the game with a 500 foot pole, if any. Take it from me - I thought Hatred was really lame, trying hard to be edgy when most of the time, Hatred wallowed in it's own middle school edginess and angst to fill a typical DeviantArt page, complete with generic gameplay and a inconsistent tone that balanced between complete seriousness and self unaware shlock.
If you really want to play a controversial video game with some meat and bones, to ease stress from a hard day at work or just for the hell of it, you're better off playing something better, like the Grand Theft Auto games.