Hitman 3 – Variety is the Spice of Death
PC, Xbox One/Series, PS4/5
Taking in the scene, I look to the corner where I can see a powerpoint near a water feature. To the left is a sharp drop off a ledge. Upstairs there seems to be a loose chandelier. Perhaps I could reach that if I had the uniform of one of the staff members. Or perhaps I can just trust in my stealth abilities to get to the target. My head is a whirl with options, tactics and possibilities and there is only one franchise that does it this well. Hitman is back, with the conclusion to the rebooted trilogy and he is bringing with him even more ways to take out a target.
The story starts quickly and makes some assumptions that you have played the previous titles. I will keep this as vague as possible because it is quite the entertaining spy tale. The big bad from Hitman 2 has escaped and gone to ground, Agent 47 and his crew are on his track and plan to get to him through taking out his underlings and associates. From this humble start, 47 travels the globe hunting his target, determining the loyalty of his friends and discovering the truth behind his past. It is in no way an award-winning tale, but it is sold well through some great voice acting and believable scenarios.
The gameplay is essentially more Hitman. If you have played the previous two titles you know what to expect, but for those that don’t know the key is to take out your target in a way that is undetectable and then escape the location. This can be done through the clever use of the environment and resources available. You might loosen a railing so it falls onto the target, poison their beverage and drown them in the toilet as they are throwing up, arrange for an industrial accident. There seems to be limitless possibilities when it comes to killing your target. What I really liked about Hitman 3 though was the variety in the mission types. While all the missions require you to take out your targets, the setups are quite varied. For example, one mission has you discovering your targets on the fly, identifying them in a nightclub seething with people. Another has you landing on the edge of a skyscraper in Dubai. There is even a mission that lets you loose and encourages you to take out as many enemies as possible. As I unlocked each level I took great pleasure in the initial moments, learning about my task and where it was taking place, more so than in the previous Hitman games. It is a glorious sandbox of death, a game of mousetrap where, when the final piece falls, a target loses its life.
Within each level are little side missions that lead you to one of your targets. These missions are optional, guided paths that place you in interesting situations and encourage you to take out your target in a specific way. Without exception, these little side stories are fantastic and honestly are the best way to play the level for the first time. The mini-stories they tell are engaging and the opportunity to take out the target is often a surprise, one I would have never thought of. These missions are also the perfect way for someone who is new to the franchise to get their head around the game, offering a guided tour of 47’s abilities and just some of the possibilities open to him.
Graphically, there isn’t much to complain about. On a high-end PC, it looks stunning and runs like butter. The various locations are filled with tiny details and graphical flourishes that make this a wonderful game to behold. About the only thing to complain about are some very minor graphical glitches, where items find themselves stuck in walls or the occasional glitching NPC. Small issues in the scheme of things, but they are noticeable when everything else is polished to perfection. The sound design is quite impressive and I strongly suggest the use of a good headset. Hearing the sound of an approaching guard coming behind me saved my bacon on more than one occasion and it is clear that the developers put a lot of effort into ensuring that sounds play an important part in the process.
One of the wonderful things that IO Interactive has done since the reboot is to ensure that the levels from previous games can be included in the newest title. This is true with Hitman 3 and if you have the previous games, you can import the levels into Hitman 3. It is a little convoluted in how to do it on PC and there have been reports of issues with Hitman 2, but IO has promised they will get it working for everyone at no additional cost. It is a wonderful commitment to their players that deserves praise. The levels are even upgraded with additions from Hitman 3. Things like shortcuts (permanent shortcuts that can be unlocked by discovering them in a level) have been retroactively added to all the levels from Hitman 1 and 2. I am honestly excited to go back and explore them all over again.
Hitman 3 in many ways feels like the culmination of everything that IO has learned over their long history with Agent 47. This is a team that is confident in their product, sure in the knowledge that there is no other game out there that scratches this particular itch. Every level, every detail, every NPC shows the development team is working at their peak, crafting everything with a deft touch and a sure hand. Granted, Hitman games are not for everyone and this title won’t change those minds, but for those that enjoy what is on offer, this is the best it has ever been. If we never see Agent 47 again (though I doubt that) this would be the perfect swansong for one of gaming’s true icons, a finale worthy of an epic like no other. Well done IO, well done.
Hitman III was reviewed on PC with code kindly supplied by the publisher.