Hitman GO: Definitive Edtion is an isometric turn-based strategy puzzle game available for download from the PlayStation Store for the PS4 and PS Vita. The Hitman series began with Hitman: Codename 47 which released for PC in November 2000 garnering enough critical acclaim and success to produce sequels and console ports to PS2 amongst other platforms including Hitman 2: Silent Assassin in October 2002, Hitman: Contracts in April 2004 and Hitman: Blood Money in May 2006. The Hitman series made its debut appearance on PS3 in November 2012 with the sequel Hitman: Absolution which was followed by Hitman HD Trilogy brought the three PS2 games to the PS3 in late January and early February 2013, but Hitman: Codename 47 still never arrived on console. Hitman on PS4 is somewhat of a departure for the series as it is an episodic release with content spread out over the course of the year of release, although the fundamental premise remains the same. Hitman GO released in April 2014 on iOS receiving critical acclaim and such awards as Best Game Design and Best iOS Game at the 2014 Canadian Videogame Awards which reflects the amount of effort invested making a complete departure from the actual premise in regards to how the game is unlike any other Hitman game due to the isometric perspective, turn-based movement and strategic gameplay, but how does Hitman GO make the transition to PS4 and Vita in the form of Hitman GO: Definitive Edition?
Unlike previous Hitman games; there is not much in the way of a story other than a brief overview of the surrounding environment prior to the start of each level which shows the location of your objectives and the starting positions of the guards who stand in your way.
Hitman GO: Definitive Edition includes all of the 91 levels comprising of the original 68 levels from the launch of the iOS version as well as a further 15 levels situated in the Airport chapter which was released in July 2014 and another 8 levels within the Silent Assassin chapter as released in October 2014.
There are seven chapters in total with a certain amount of insignias that are required to unlock new sets of levels which are also referred to as level boxes as 15 insignias are needed to unlock the second set of levels, 45 insignias to unlock the third level box, 70 insignias to unlock the fourth set of levels, 100 insignias for the fifth level box, 120 insignias to unlock the sixth set of levels and 140 insignias to unlock the seventh level box.
Each level has a main objective which will either involve reaching the extraction point or taking out the red target, while there are a variety of secondary objectives such as not killing any enemies or killing all enemies within a level, completing a level within a specific number of turns, collecting a briefcase and more besides which if completed will be awarded with extra insignias for the purpose of unlocking new level boxes.
The turn-based gameplay mechanics of Hitman GO is quite intuitive and works unbelievably well given that the series has never set foot in that direction before, although the simultaneous movement of Agent 47 and surrounding guards does produce plenty of trial and error gameplay.
There are a variety of items at the disposal of Agent 47 such as objects which can be thrown to distract guards in order to manoeuvre guards away from their original positions that would have previously blocked your path towards a main or secondary objective in a similar way to tapping on a wall in Metal Gear Solid; palm trees to hide within as a form of cover from guards that are situated very close by who will not detect Agent 47 as they walk past the palm trees; disguises which allow Agent 47 to casually move beyond guards by making guards believe he is also a guard; and a weapon to shoot guards with when it comes to the most desperate of situations when a guard or multiple guards are on the brink of ending Agent 47’s mission in failure.
The character design is excellent as well as being artistic and varied with the characters designed in the mould of chess pieces with a deliberate plastic look to them as though they are poseable figures to be picked up and moved around a chess board, although rather than playing with chess pieces; the player controls the series protagonist Agent 47 who acts as the lead character, while the enemy design includes guards dressed in various colours of clothing or uniforms and guard dogs.
The environment design is varied as the environments are set in different types of lighting and shadow at fixed times of day and night which vary from level to level with some interesting design elements such as trapdoors connecting secret passages and appropriate furnishings such as couches, chairs, swimming pools, statues, palm trees, cars, tennis courts, streetlights, hedges, benches and much more besides resulting in the environments never being overly sparse. There are even some locations based upon Agent 47’s most famous missions including the Paris Opera from Hitman: Blood Money and the St. Petersburg Stakeout from Hitman 2: Silent Assassin.
Hitman GO: Definitive Edition supports cross-buy and cross-save between the PS4 and Vita. Cross-buy presents a superb amount of value as it means that you will be purchasing the PS4 and Vita versions of the game with just a single purchase. The cross-save functionality allows you to sync the progression of your save file from your Vita to your PS4 and vice versa, so you can start playing the game on your Vita on the way to and from work, sync your save game when you return home and then resume were you left off by loading the save game and continuing via the PS4 version. The cross-save feature is made possible by uploading your save file to the cloud on one console and downloading it from the other console.
The controls are well mapped to the Vita with the control scheme consisting of pressing X to perform actions such as attacking or confirming a selected movement; pressing triangle to view hints; pressing O to cancel an action; pressing square to restart; pressing L or R to move the camera directly overhead or return it to the isometric view respectively; changing the direction of the left analogue stick or alternatively pressing up, down, left or right on the d-pad to move Agent 47 along the grid nodes; changing the direction of the right analogue stick to pan the camera around the surrounding environments; and pressing start to display the menu. The Vita’s touch screen is implemented by swiping across the touch screen in the direction you want to move Agent 47 along the grid nodes and swiping across the touch screen outside of the grid pans the camera around the surrounding environments. The DualShock 4 control scheme mostly remains the same with the camera controls of L and R moving to L2 and R2 and the touch screen swiping to move Agent 47 from one grid node to another in the Vita version is mapped to the touch pad, while the light bar remains a bright white until a guard has killed Agent 47 in which case the light bar becomes a pulsing red, alongside a light vibration when moving, a heavier vibration when throwing objects to distract guards, when Agent 47 has been killed or when he has killed a guard, a further heavier vibration when having simultaneously killed a group of guards and the heaviest vibration when having killed a mark.
Graphically, Hitman GO: Definitive Edition on Vita and PS4 excels in comparison to the original iOS release of Hitman GO due to smoother edges that are not jagged and improved textures. There are some nice graphical touches to bring the surrounding environments such as the appropriate lighting and shadows to set the fitting mood for each level, while there are some great background details such as gardeners tending to the lawn and hedges accompanied by an engraving of the chapter and level number at the bottom of the game board within a plaque that sits atop a varnished wooden base covering the circumference of the game board.
The presentation of the game is solid with a great user interface across various menus such as the main menu, options menu and gameplay menus with support for navigation via the left analogue stick, directional pad, face buttons and touch screen on Vita, although it does not include support for navigation via the right analogue stick and rear touch pad, while the navigation through the menus on the PS4 version rather surprisingly does not include support for the touch pad given that the Vita’s touch screen is supported. The background of the main menu provides an idea of the experience ahead as Agent 47 stands purposefully to the left of the Hitman GO: Definitive Edition logo in what is rather minimalist presentation.
Sound effects include mumbling from guards in reaction to hearing something out of the ordinary, palm trees being briefly shaken as Agent 47 utilises them for cover from guards, opening and closing trapdoors, Agent 47 and guards moving from node to node on the grid and figures representing guards or Agent 47 falling to the board after having been captured by their respective enemy, while ambience that is related to the surrounding environments such as birds tweeting and water rippling when standing next to an outdoor swimming pool during daytime; accompanied by a range of music from tense music to build-up the sense of atmosphere that something is about to happen through to calm and tranquil classical opera music. There is surprisingly no DualShock 4 speaker implementation in the PS4 version which could have produced sound effects, ambience or music.
The trophy list includes 17 trophies with 4 bronze trophies, 3 silver trophies, 9 gold trophies and 1 platinum trophy. Easier trophies include the Litterbug bronze trophy for throwing an object without it alerting anyone by simply picking up an object and throwing it in the opposite direction to nearby enemies; the Time Waster bronze trophy for playing for at least 100 turns in a single level by simply moving back and forth between two spaces; and The Long Walk gold trophy for taking 1,000 turns which will naturally accumulate sooner rather than later. The hardest trophy has to be the Silent Assassin gold trophy for completing all objectives throughout every chapter without using a single hint. It is estimated that depending upon skill and a good trophy guide to provide some helpful tips that it would take between 4 to 5 hours to platinum the trophy list.
There are no difficulty levels, although there is a noticeable increase in the actual difficulty curve which becomes gradually apparent as you progress through the levels such as an increase in the amount of enemies standing in the way between you and accomplishing your main and secondary objectives as well as their differing patterns of movement as they evolve in their respective behaviour patterns from one level to the next which certainly results in a challenging experience.
Hitman GO: Definitive Edition has no form of multiplayer on Vita and PS4, but a pass the Vita and pass the controller multiplayer could have consisted of any number of players attempting to complete a level in the fewest turns possible, while online multiplayer could have had one player as Agent 47 trying to complete his main and secondary objectives, although the second player is actively trying to stop Agent 47 by strategically re-positioning guards and guard dogs. There are no online leaderboards, although there could have been leaderboards for every level with the positioning of players based upon their quickest time and fewest turns required to complete each level as well as the total amount of time and turns to complete every level combined.
The replayability stems from the insignias which are required to unlock later level boxes, therefore creating a design choice that links perfectly with the notion of earning a reward for fulfilling secondary objectives just as much as main objectives throughout the 91 levels comprising of the original 68 levels and 23 post-release levels which will have players returning to levels multiple times over.
Overall, Hitman GO is an incredibly original idea to take the concept of the Hitman series and spin it off into a well crafted turn-based game which should be experienced by fans of the Hitman series and turn-based games. Hopefully Lara Croft GO will be the next game to receive the Definitive Edition treatment on Vita as Hitman GO: Definitive Edition on Vita and PS4 really is quite exceptional with the Vita version producing an absolutely perfect portable experience at astonishing value for just £6.49!
Developer: Square Enix Montreal
Publisher: Square Enix
Release Date: February 23, 2016
Platforms: PS4, PS Vita, PC
ESRB Rating: E 10+ – Everyone 10 and up
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