With the release of Hitman 3, IO Interactive’s World of Assassination trilogy is complete. And what a way to bow out it is.
Picking up where Hitman 2 left off, Hitman 3 finds Agent 47 working with Lucas Grey and Diana Burnwood to eliminate the partners of Providence. But worry not if your memory of previous events is a bit rusty, or if you’ve not even played the previous two games – a handy recap is available to get you up to speed. Not that you need to follow the story to have fun with Hitman 3, anyway; it’s the sandbox nature of its stealth-based action that will keep you returning to its new batch of locations time and time again.
Hitman 3 begins with Agent 47 taking his murderous exploit to new heights – quite literally. Infiltrating the tallest building in the world, which happens to be in Dubai, players are quickly introduced to a new tool at their disposal – a camera. Agent 47 can simply whip it out to take a nice picture if he wishes, but more useful is its ability to relay pictures of door locks and panels so that they can be hacked, as well as capture other useful intel and evidence. It’s a small thing, but it further enriches your interactivity with the world and opens up yet more opportunities. And when it comes to Hitman, that’s what counts.
Playing on PS5 for review, it’s also pretty clear as you explore the grandiose sky-cleaving building that the visuals really have been pushed to the next level. Everything is clean and crisp, the lighting is absolutely sublime, and the advanced reflections really do catch your eye. But it’s the framerate that really gives you that next-gen feel: running at 60fps, Hitman has never been so enjoyable to play on console. Everything being so silky smooth and responsive makes you feel more responsible for your actions, especially when things go wrong. Though speedy load times take the hassle out of reloading every now and again.
While your exploits in Dubai are fairly typical for a Hitman game – albeit with breath-taking scenery of the likes not previously witnessed – from that point on Hitman 3 likes to throw a few curveballs. The game’s second mission, for example, set in Dartmoor, UK, allows you to pose as a private investigator and solve a murder if you wish. The third, set in Berlin, challenges you to eliminate five targets from an even greater pool, and you’ve got to identify them first. Players are only likely to be disappointed with the game’s final location, the Carpathian Mountains in Romania; while the action that takes place there serves as a thrilling closing scenario, its smaller scale and linearity means players won’t be returning to it anywhere near as much as the other five brilliantly-devised murder-filled sandboxes.
Perhaps the most impressive of all of Hitman 3‘s environments is Chongqing, China; a location that seems to capitalise on the current popularity of Cyberpunk, not only because of its neon-drenched streets. It’s perhaps the biggest and most varied Hitman location to date, allowing players to explore rainy streets before going deep underground to sneak around a futuristic data centre. Though that’s not to say that other locations in Hitman 3 aren’t also varied and vast – aside from the Carpathian Mountains, they all feel more roomy and natural than those that have come before. It’s perhaps why persistent unlockable shortcuts have been introduced for the first time.
As ever, each one of Hitman 3‘s locations is meant to be played multiple times. There are challenges and Escalation Contracts missions to complete, stories to follow, and beyond that, leaderboards to chase the top spot on. On any of your playthroughs you might encounter doors that seem very securely shut, or telescopic ladders that need a tool to be set free, and if you do manage to make them available for use, they’ll remain available for subsequent visits. So, while you might have had to take a certain route to get somewhere on one visit to a location, on the next you might be able to bypass some areas entirely, saving time or presenting more options.
Outside of the main story missions, Contracts mode returns, allowing players to define their own targets and rules for assassinating them in any of the available locations before uploading them for others to attempt. Sniper Assassin mode returns, too, for those who want to test their marksmanship. What is missing, however, is the online multiplayer Ghost mode. Those who had fun with it in Hitman 2 will no doubt be disappointed, but as it’s been given the chop I imagine it wasn’t all that popular.
One of the most exciting things about Hitman 3 is that like Hitman 2 you can import the locations from previous games in the World of Assassination trilogy into it. So, if you happen to own all of the Hitman games on the same format or family of consoles, you’re able to access all of the locations and essentially play all three games in one place. Unfortunately the import process wasn’t live at the time of playing Hitman 3 for review, so I haven’t been able to see how the locations fare thanks to their next-gen upgrades. Judging by the ICA training areas which are accessible, however, they won’t disappoint.
Those picking up the PS4 or PS5 version of Hitman 3 are also able to experience Hitman in VR for the first time. There’s a caveat for those playing on PS5, however; they’ll need to have the PS4 version of the game installed to access it. Actually owning it isn’t an issue as those buying either the PS4 or PS5 version of the game get access to the other free of charge, while on Xbox smart delivery is supported, but it does mean PS5 users will have to install two versions of the game if they want next-gen visuals and the option to play in VR. And with storage space being tight, it’s not ideal.
Other than that, the only real negatives with regards to Hitman 3 are the usual. Online and offline progress are still kept separate, so you’re going to want to be online at all times while playing. The AI of those around you is also still a little silly; you’re often able to get away with some crazy actions without anyone even batting an eyelid, but invade someone’s personal space for just a fraction of a second too long and they will doggedly chase you down like you’re their nemesis. And why can we still not seamlessly progress from subduing someone to dragging them? Stealthily knocking someone out, watching them crumple on the floor, then holding a button to grab and drag them still feels cumbersome, especially when just a fraction of a second can mean the difference between getting away with it and being spotted.
Hitman 3 doesn’t break the mould, it merely beats in some extra details that give it a little extra depth and richness. For fans of the series it won’t be an issue; this is the final piece in a trilogy, after all – if it was too different it would stand out like a sore thumb. Ultimately, then, the only really disappointing aspect of Hitman 3 is its final location, which plays more like a sequence from Hitman: Absolution. With every other location offering so many possibilities, however, it’s forgivable. Chances are we aren’t going to be placed in control of Agent 47 again; at least for a fair while, anyway. But with Hitman 3, IO Interactive has at least made sure he’s had a worthy send-off.
Hitman 3 Review: GameSpew’s Score