Hitman GO came out in April of 2014, and our own Spencer Campbell had high praise for it in his review — his only con being that he was left wanting more. Addressing the shortness of the game, Square-Enix Montreal is back with what it is calling the Definitive Edition of the game, bringing it to the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita.
For those who didn’t take the plunge initially, Hitman GO takes the stealth and assassination aspects of its parent product and turns it into a turn-based puzzle game. Each level is a grid with hiding places, weapons, tools, and opportunities, but every time you move, so does the enemy. Distracting your foes, moving into position, and getting the timing just right to ensure you can take them out unseen is critical — there is no “run-and-gun” here.
Visually, the game is set up like a tabletop board game. Agent 47 and his foes are little plastic figurines, and the tools and distraction items look like board game pieces. You can only move 47 left, right, up, and down, but you’re allowed to move an unlimited amount of times. Foes follow specific patrol patterns, altered by distraction items and weapons.
Every few levels, new enemies are added to the mix, for a total of eight types excluding bosses. Some foes turn back and forth and can spot you, but don’t move. Dogs will chase indefinitely if they spot Agent 47, unless otherwise distracted. To combat them, you’ll be able to use disguises, distractions, and weapons to dodge or take out your target. It’s a simple, but extremely complex, game that is easy to play but difficult to master. While it sounds like it’d be a tedious exercise in turn-based trial and error, success over the puzzle’s logical nature is always satisfying.
One of the things Spencer pointed out in his review was the nod to previous Hitman titles. Hitman Go: Definitive Edition adds a staggering 90+ puzzles to the level loadout, including those same nods to previous games. The St. Petersburg Stakeout mission from Hitman 2, the Paris Opera house from Blood Money, and an airport that could have been from the Bjarkhov Bomb mission in Hitman Contracts give Hitman GO a casual nod to the source material, and it’s interesting to tackle those levels in this new medium.
In Hitman GO there are ways to accomplish your objective quickly, or through brute force, but there were also little side objectives like briefcases full of intel that beckon. These side missions are presented as cards, keeping with the board game theme. This creates instant replayability, as do the sub-objectives of accomplishing goals without killing anyone, in a certain number of moves, etc., and most of them can’t be accomplished in the same level attempt. The Definitive Edition doubles down on this, adding new challenges to the mix to go along with the landscape of fresh levels. There are now 7 “board games,” gated by completing objectives as before, and completely justifying the price.
The Android and iOS versions of Hitman GO make fantastic use of the touchscreen control scheme, and that is preserved on the Vita. It’s also added to the DualShock 4’s touchpad, meaning you get the high-resolution 1080p version of Hitman GO (courtesy of an upgrade to the Unity 5 engine, complete with a new lighting engine), with the tactile satisfaction of a touch screen. Better still, if you own both platforms, it supports both cross-buy and cross-save. If you are a Trophy hunter, you’ll be happy to see the appearance of a Platinum one.
The PlayStation Vita has been cursed with some long load times for some games. I’m happy to report that Hitman: GO Definitive Edition loads each level inside of five seconds, with reloads taking roughly a second, making it very portable. In both platforms, the addition of of the second thumbstick gives a little more control over the camera, which can be helpful when planning your route. On the PlayStation 4, the load times are almost non-existent, coming in at around two seconds to load a level and less than a second to retry.
I saved the best part about Hitman GO for last. Given the game’s mobile roots, it was great to see that the microtransactions have been excised from this version. Using the hints no longer costs money, but it will prevent you from getting the Silent Assassin achievement. You can reset your progress in the menu for a re-attempt, if you really want that aforementioned Platinum trophy.
If I had one complaint, and it’s a minor one, it’s that so many of Hitman GO’s mission structures require killing to complete. Playing Hitman, I feel like missions where nobody ever knew I was there are the pinnacle of excellence. There are a quite a few challenges that simply require killing characters that aren’t your main target. It’s a very minor thing, and you could easily chalk it up to personal preference.