Hitman 3 marks the climax of the ‘World of Assassination’ rebooted trilogy, which previous two games saw high praise across the board. Many would say that the explore, plot, and kill formula has been perfected by IO Interactive in recent years, so how does Hitman 3 up the ante to deliver a killing blow for the series?
While some franchises have made somewhat subtle jumps from last-gen to new-gen consoles, the improvement in visual fidelity and scale can immediately be seen with Hitman 3. From the gorgeous, marble-clad and sun-soaked opening level in Dubai to the more subdued shadows and lighting in an old manor locale, Hitman 3 looks spectacular. The animations and general ‘feel’ of the game have benefitted from the leap in technology too. Agent 47 moves more slickly and elegantly than ever before, and NPCs seem to have a realism to them that their older, stuffer counterparts always lacked.
Raising the bar, and dropping it on someone’s head
Like its predecessors, Hitman 3 gives players a playground of opportunities and ways to kill their targets, but thanks to the power and improvements in scale, the game’s new mechanics have opened up even more avenues for agony. The larger levels are littered with tools, environmental hazards, and sneaky angles to give your targets a much-needed dirt-nap, whether it be something as unique as using an exploding golf ball or a simple sniper-rifle shot from a balcony. However, how elaborate of a kill you want comes down to your patience and creativity, and you can accept a helping-hand in these endeavours, or not.
Like Hitman 2, there are still ‘Opportunities’ which arise as you explore the levels and encounter NPCs or objects. If you choose to follow them, these allow you to track a somewhat predetermined path which will help you take out a target in a rather inventive way, and one which explores a backstory a bit further, such as posing as a businessman who already has a meeting scheduled with the target. These are incredibly fun and admittedly genius ways that IO Interactive have come up with ways of disposing of dirtbags, and it’s great to get some more context into your targets; but there is also a lot of joy in just stumbling around the levels and carving out your own path to ‘off’ the offender.
A View to Kill
But while the smorgasbord of death-dealing is impressive, what makes any Hitman game really memorable is its locations and scenarios, and Hitman 3 delivers arguably the best levels that the franchise has seen. The maps are grandiose, densely packed with interesting spaces and secrets, and act as almost characters unto themselves. Getting a good lay of the land, exploring the world, and plotting out some murderous ideas (prior to even pulling a trigger or choking a guard) is a good idea and one of the best parts of the experience.
The vastly more dynamic NPCs make things even more interesting too, as their dialogue and reactions to the world are far more realistic than ever before. Bystanders will more frequently comment on the disguise you’re wearing, on the specifics of what you’re doing, and respond in more real-world fashion, making you feel like you’re fooling these characters, rather than working around a pre-built system.
There is a new camera tool too, which allows you to scan and open windows or doors, or uncover evidence to help you with your mission, but it doesn’t necessarily add anything to the game that a button or prompt couldn’t have offered.
Despite the franchise’s name, the Hitman games have never been about killing per se. They’re puzzle games wrapped up in a blood-coated, leather glove, and series developer IO Interactive has delivered arguably the most comprehensive Hitman experience to date with Hitman 3, pooling together some of the strongest locations and slickest gameplay that the series has ever seen. A must-play for any Hitman fan.
Hitman 3 is available on Xbox Series X/S, PS5, Xbox One, PS4, Switch and PC.