Platforms: PlayStation 4 (reviewed), PS Vita
In the face of the new Hitman game that's hitting stores (and digital fronts) this week, it's not likely that Hitman GO! will be an equally best seller, since it's built on an entirely different play format than you'd expect from IO Interactive's games. Nevertheless, it fared pretty well on the iOS front, and makes a surprisingly good transition over to the PlayStation 4.
Instead of using traditional hitman skills like you would in the other games, you move an Agent 47 figurine around a series of pre-set game boards, making moves to wipe out (or avoid) guards while going after a specific target. It's definitely not as tactical as what you'd find in the full games, but it makes for a quaint, satisfying little distraction.
Hit and Run
You'll start to get the hang of the basics that Hitman GO! has to offer right from the start, as the opening tutorial levels walk you through everything, from "knocking out" guards (i.e. moving them off the game board) to utilizing second abilities, like a distraction via throwing something towards guards. It doesn't really go past that, nor does it need to, since the game is built upon basic board game-playing skills. Sorry! it ain't.
As you proceed through the game, you'll come across more complicated level that requires precision movement, such as avoiding guards at the right time, using disguises, or knowing when (or when not) to go for the bonus briefcase that's located in the upper area. You can always restart quickly if you make a mistake, with very little penalty as a result. So you don't have to be a perfectionist, but it never hurts to keep trying for all three stamps in a level.
That's because the more stamps you earn, the more goodies you can unlock in Hitman GO! This includes bonus costumes and other items, and while they may not make the greatest difference when it comes to gameplay, they're still pretty neat to have.
A Simple Presentation – Perhaps Too Simple
As for the presentation, don't expect Hitman GO! to stretch above and beyond. After all, the game is based on a mobile release, and the team didn't exactly polish over this version to take advantage of the hardware.
Nevertheless, Hitman GO! benefits from strong level design, as the later stages show some excellent dioramas and guard movement. There's even an option to look around the board, if you feel like you need to plan your moves more effectively. It may not wow you like other Hitman games (such as the new release), but it's satisfactory.
As for the audio, the soothing music that plays throughout isn't bad, except for the fact that the same tunes play throughout. Whereas the other Hitman games have exquisite soundtracks, Hitman GO! kind of runs by the basics. You may be reaching the volume knob to blare your own soundtrack instead. At least the female announcer isn't that annoying.
Finally, I believe there's one other thing worth mentioning – the consistent loading. I can understand new levels taking a little time to load up, but when you need to restart the one you're on, it really shouldn't take that long. Maybe Square Enix can offer up a patch to clean this up a little bit.