Hitman GO has little in common with the stealth action the series is known for. While it may not be what a fan of the series wants out of a new Hitman game, if given a chance there is enjoyment to be found. That fun won’t last long, however, playing this with any regularity probably won’t take up even a week’s worth of your gaming time. Ultimately, this is a Hitman entry that requires appropriate expectations to avoid being disappointed.
An Usual Pairing
First things first, this is not your standard Hitman fare. Instead, Hitman GO is a puzzler presented as a series of Hitman board games. Your job is to make it to the end of the level, and the level of lethality you engage in is sometimes left up to you. If you are caught, your Agent 47 wooden piece is simply knocked over like a chess piece. Twice per board game box, collections of levels, you encounter missions that end when you kill a specific target, in what most closely matches up with a typical Hitman experience. All in all, it’s an amusing wrinkle on the franchise, though still a strange fit. It makes the brand approachable to a wider range of players, but for something called Hitman I’m not so sure that is necessarily appropriate.
New mechanics are intelligently inserted organically throughout levels. There are no pop up messages instructing the player what to do. You are expected to figure it out on your own based on the scenario you are put in, and it works. The first time you pick up a jacket disguise you will see that the only way through the level is by trying to walk past an enemy with the same color jacket. Upon doing so, you know how disguises work. Now that you have that knowledge, it will be expanded upon, eventually combining with other individual elements into elegant solutions.
Each level of Hitman GO offers three challenges, in standard mobile game fashion a la Angry Birds, to earn points towards unlocking future levels. One is always for completing the level, while the other two are chosen from a small list including completing the level in a low amount of moves, and killing all enemies. These are often mutually exclusive, requiring multiple plays to finish them all. This is a good way to extend replayability, but unfortunately the missions can only be accomplished in one way. If one of the cards tells you to beat the level in 15 moves or less, you can pretty much guarantee that it will take exactly 15 moves, and it’s only possible to do in one specific way. This promotes efficient movement but restricts creativity. Once you figure out how to complete one of the optional objectives there is no reason to return to it.
No Cut Content
Hitman GO initially released to mobile platforms, and the definitive edition here boasts all DLC and updated visuals. You have access to the full package, with no nickel and diming microtransactions to be found. Though it certainly looks nicer than its mobile counterpart, and the visuals really nail the board game aesthetic, the graphics are nothing special. This really doesn’t feel like something meant to be played on a large television, and is more at home as an addition to the Vita’s library. Hitman GO is also cross-buy and cross-save compatible, a single purchase nets rights to both the PS4 and Vita versions, and saves are easily transferred between platforms. Functionally Hitman GO is identical regardless of where you decide to play it.
The actual levels themselves are unchanged from the iOS and Android versions, so if you’ve played either version there is nothing new to see aside from picking up some trophies – if that’s something you’re into.
Loading, Loading, Loading
Despite relatively small levels, very basic textures, and a highly repetitive short loop of Ave Maria on certain levels, Hitman GO bounces out to a loading screen every time a level is restarted for any reason. It’s hard to believe that the PlayStation 4 needs to reload this data repeatedly. Though the load times are brief, it is a minor annoyance that follows you from beginning to end. It’s also worth noting that the load times on Vita are still short, but about twice as long.
Designed for Touch
One glaring issue with Hitman GO jumping from a touchscreen design to the PS4 is basic control. You move in cardinal directions, but the standard camera angle is isometric. That angle can change depending on where you are in any given level, and the result of that was often moving in a direction I didn’t intend. Pressing up on the directional pad might move you Northwest when the camera gives you the impression that you would move Northeast. Many a levels had to be restarted due to this design flaw. Bizarrely, touch controls have been stripped from the Vita version, with the touchscreen only allowing for temporary camera adjustments.
Hitman GO is a very short puzzle game, with a unique look, that can pose moderate challenge. Expect to spend maybe five or so hours to see everything there is to offer. It’s not something I will revisit in the future, but it was fun for what little time I did spend with it.
Score: 6.5/10 – Okay
Hitman GO was reviewed on PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita using a purchased copy