The Hitman game series has proven popular enough to spawn a number of sequels, as well as a feature film. And with the release of Hitman GO ($5), it’s clear Square Enix thinks the franchise still has legs, as Agent 47 makes a big move from stealth action/adventure to stealth strategy.
It’s important for gamers to think of Hitman GO as a spinoff, rather than a proper continuation of the franchise. Perhaps Agent 47 will become the next Mario, popping into go-karts, onto tennis courts, and so forth. Or not. Hitman GO is a puzzler made to look like a board game, as Agent 47 is merely a piece to be moved strategically from space to space. The game’s most “violent” moments involve knocking over other pieces. This is way more fun than it initially sounds.
Swiping across the board moves Agent 47 from one predetermined place to another. As he moves, the other characters on the board may move along with him, all in their own predetermined ways. For instance, some enemies will move one space at a time, while others will wait to react. Enemy movement patterns are obvious, which makes the gameplay more intuitive. Agent 47 can knock off enemies when approaching from the side or behind, but that’s not really the goal — it’s better to evade in most cases, anyway. Players can advance through the game by reaching a set endpoint in each level, though there are also other optional objectives on the way, like retrieving a briefcase or completing a level without killing any guards. Keep in mind, a certain number of objectives must be completed before unlocking the game’s next set of levels.
Hitman GO’s tabletop look is inspired. The levels are clever, with a clean look. Agent 47 and all the other characters look like pieces you’d might see in a well designed board game. Some levels will give you a closer look at the start before zooming out to commence gameplay. It’s all very smooth and attractive.
The learning curve is spot on in Hitman GO. It’s important to note that you should never feel cheated in the game. There’s always a solution somewhere, and though it might take some trial and error to get there, we never had an issue with that. It was kind of nice to realize things weren’t working out on a particular turn, so we could just start right over without concern.
There are few faults to be found in Hitman GO. Before replaying each level, a loading screen pops up, but it’s very brief. Some might bemoan the lack of a story, but most probably won’t care, as they’ll be having too much fun. There’s no shortage of levels, either, so you’ll stay busy for a while. Hitman GO is a distinctive, fun, and addictive game.
iLounge Rating: A-