Hitman Go: The Definitive Edition Proves Square Enix Can Leave A Good Thing Alone
By Gwendolyn L. Spelvin
How can things get any better for Square Enix? The daunting remake of Final Fantasy VII into an episodic All My Children adventure has put them on every shit list imaginable. Rumors of a declawed Wolverine and a cavalcade of watered down X-Men appearing in Kingdom Hearts 3 is about as bottom as a trip to rehab with Dr. Drew.
It’s pretty much common knowledge at this point that franchise development decisions aren’t their strong suit.
Not a lot of faith was held when once upon a time, in a land far away, a corporate buyout worth £84.3 million gave Square Enix the fortunate dumb luck to inherit the Hitman franchise. After all, Square Enix’s track record with the continuing sagas of its most known titles and their glitches should make them a Razzie contender. Yet somehow they did the impossible with Hitman; in spite of their best intentions to screw up the franchise, a fun, puzzle turn based game was born.
Hitman Go is the first title of Square Enix Montreal, who rose from the ashes via the Eidos buyout (that became Square Enix Europe) in 2011. The project came out of the idea to recreate triple A console titles newly inherited, regardless of proven formula success. However, in true Square Enix form, fans dodged a bullet when the console game was canceled and the studio suddenly shifted gears into severely depressed budgets and shredded staff for mobile development.
Enter Daniel Lutz, creative director behind what he coins, “the thinking man’s game”. While working within the parameters of long hours, lack of crew, and construction paper cutouts, the gamble of creating a mobile contender paid off, and Hitman Go was gone to Android and iOS.
The point and click puzzle game with its cheap, tawdry, cost cutting demeanor was absolutely genius. Fans celebrated in full unison and relieved breath that Agent 47 was back again to a glory not see from him since the sequel. A world where Agent 47 is still the king of all assassins on the board, utilizing one step at a time to knock all the enemy pieces off to the side for level completion in arrogant satisfaction for advancement.
The dominance of chess plus a stellar rite of passage for pure unadulterated critical thinking at its finest equals a sinful masterpiece.
So what we can’t get directives from Diana, target bad guys running around blowing 47’s cover, kill them in a multitude of ways, steal their clothes, hide their dead bodies, and have a collection of weapons to get dirty with. We can, however, knock pieces off the board when we side swipe them in stealth and earn the Silver Ballers as one of 20 achievements to solidify the level of badass it takes to play this epic adventure.
The genuine popularity of the mobile version was a surprise to the franchise and its expectations. Thankfully, Square Enix didn’t lose momentum. Released updates added more progressive challenging chapters, including some that were inspired by the most beloved levels in the Hitman cannon. Demand for a port was imminent, and Hitman Go: The Definitive Edition culminated the mobile experience for PC and console alike.
Anytime a mobile game is ported, trouble is on the horizon; in this regard Hitman Go is no different. At first glance you can’t help but see the faults of developing for mobile. A cheaply created product designed to capitalize off of lowbrow gamers that are smart enough to recognize branding with little insight for anything else is all you have to work with. And unlike any other Hitman game, dialogue, cut scenes, and heavy narrative are noticeably absent, as is the primary game mechanic of targeted assassinations. Factor in Hitman without the lovely Diana assigning 47 his latest directives and you have a mess with a controller in your hands.
In a mind boggling turn of events, Square Enix resisted their urge to update, upgrade, and/or reboot the entire game to their over the top graphic liking and kept it to a basic resolution suitable for a port. The world breathes a sigh of relief for their egotistical nature taking a break long enough to allow a much more beautiful experience on PC and console without buggy interruptions and memory intensive intrusion. Added support for controllers created the anticipation of replaying it again with a bigger resolution mandatory.
Good job, Square Enix. The worm in the bottom of the tequila bottle has definitely turned for you, my friend. Hitman Go: The Definitive Edition runs better and has less problems than your glorious reboot of the franchise. Try not to ruin it out of frustration when you tear your hair out over the reboot’s multiplayer server issues and needing to prove you’re doing something right.
You have by sheer dumb luck created the greatest board game ever made. Deal with it.