Square Enix has been clever in utilising its rich heritage of intellectual properties in the last couple of years. Not only has it managed to breathe new life into old characters and franchises, such as Deus Ex: Human Revolution and the Tomb Raider reboot, but it has successfully managed their transitions to mobile.
The latest to make its way onto mobile devices - on iPad, iPhone and iPod touch for now, Android later - is Hitman. Agent 47 returned to PC and console gaming with aplomb a year and a half ago with Hitman: Absolution. Now he finds his way onto portable devices, but not perhaps in the way you might expect.
The Game of Life
Hitman Go takes the essence of a Hitman game but rewrites the rules. It is an isometric, turn-based puzzle/strategy board game. And it's visually beautiful.
The game is split into different assassination tasks, each of which made up of 15 levels. You need to complete each of the puzzle levels in turn in order to finally get a crack at the main target and there are plenty of obstacles along the way.
Each of them works by you swiping Agent 47 in a direction set points on the map, with the ultimate aim of hitting the end point marker in order to progress. There are guards along the way and different methods of getting around or through them, and that's where the fun lies.
Like with Hitman games of the past, some levels might offer rocks or tennis balls to throw to set points in order to send guards in that direction. Others might have costumes you can wear to blend in. And nearly all have other bonus items to pick up along the way in order to complete bonus objectives.
Each objective you accomplish at the end of a level goes towards a total that can be used to unlock the next level pack - in the shape of a new boxed board game. There are five available at the moment, with four of those needing you to unlock them as you progress. The last is a section inspired by one of the hits in Hitman: Blood Money, so there's something there for old school fans, and Square Enix told Pocket-lint that other packs will be included in future updates, possibly also inspired by classic game levels.
Pay to play?
If you don't want to play your way through to unlock the packs, they can be bought through in-app purchases, but we haven't found the need. You can also buy hints that will help you complete levels, but again we haven't needed to.
In fact, in-app purchasing seems to be there because it's all the rage rather than a necessary evil. And we like that.
Hitman Go is a clever and intelligent way of bringing a much-loved franchise to a mobile platform while understanding all the restrictions the format enforces. Square Enix could have made an action Hitman game or simply ported an older release across, but we've never been fan of touch controls for 3D first or third person shooters, even with the more stealth-based pace of a Hitman.
That's why we've instantly fallen in love with this outing. It is perfect for iPad or iPhone. The levels, while taxing, are not overly drawn out so are ideal to play in stolen moments.
Hitman Go is a hit. Now go get it... groan.