The Hitman series has always been consistent, it puts you in the shoes of Agent 47, a genetically engineered assassin. While the series maintained a winning streak, Hitman: Absolution knocked the wind out of its sails. Developer, IO Interactive went back to the drawing board and returned in 2016 with the critically and commercially successful reboot of the series, which was followed up by a well-loved sequel. Hitman 3 hopes to not only continue the recent success but bring the series to a close, before IO Interactive move onto to the beloved James Bond universe.
As with every Hitman game to date, the actual plot takes a backseat. The previous titles have explored 47’s relationship with his handler and rival shadow organisations trying to take each other out, but calling it special is a stretch. Hitman 3 wraps up this story well enough and is certainly the best when it comes to plot, with moments of excellence, there is enough to you keep you invested.
Watch the launch trailer below:
Where Hitman shines is the world based stories that take place in each map. There are usually one or two ways to complete a mission as the game wants you to and these have fairly interesting stories, but if you explore off the beaten path, you’ll encounter all kinds of characters interacting with each other in real-time, it’s like an interactive play and by following these events, you can manipulate the world to your advantage. This is storytelling many titles just can’t seem to nail and it’s awesome.
In all honesty, the rest of the review can be summarised with the simple sentence “It’s the same, but better”. For the newcomers, Hitman gives you a large sandbox map with a simple objective ‘take out your target(s)’. As discussed earlier, there are a couple of intended ways to complete this goal, but it is far from your only option. There are many side missions in each level that lead to a completely different way of assassinating your target, these can range from posing as an ally of your target, pretending to be a lover, posing as a chef and poisoning food…..really there are tons of possibilities. This is where Hitman shines and Hitman 3 is no exception, want to play as a DJ? Go ahead. Want to play as a Sherlock Holmes knock-off and complete an actual murder investigation? Do it. Setting up these elaborate kills takes practice as missions run in real-time, you have to plan and remember your routes as these levels get very complicated and more importantly, always change.
There is an advanced social system in each level. Agent 47 can wear disguises to access certain areas. Let’s say you want to pose as kitchen staff to poison some food, that’s all well and good but the head chef knows his staff and knows you aren’t one. No matter how prepared you are, there is always something to think about, making each level a giant puzzle to solve. Taking out your target isn’t the end goal, you still need to escape. Maybe planning elaborate kills is boring and you want to gun someone down or blow them up……that’s totally viable. In fact, each level has many challenges to complete and these can be as wacky as ‘kill the target with a golf ball’ or ‘kill the target while dressed as a clown’ or something as silly as that. Hitman isn’t afraid to have fun, it’s self-aware and encourages re-playability.
Re-playability is the main focus here, while 6 massive maps might seem light, the amount of content is staggering and there is the option to bring every map from the first and second game into the roster. That not enough? Well, there are special elusive targets, dangerous escalation missions and a dedicated sniper mode to keep you going.
PS4 owners get a special treat, as every single level can be played via PSVR! The most impressive thing about, well, the entire trilogy, is the level design. Every level feels authentic, from the town of Sapienza in the first game, to the suburb of Whittleton Creek in the second game, to every level in the third, it’s incredible. The vineyard of Mendoza is huge, the rave in Berlin is packed with people and the streets of Chonqing feel almost like Blade Runner. Streets ebb and flow and buildings aren’t just for show, people intersect and have a place to be, each level feels lived in and you have to pretend you belong there.
The Glacier engine handles this beautifully, the complex levels are populated with a lot of AI characters and I mean, a lot. There is a great level of detail across the trilogy and while character models are simply ‘good’, as a whole the series looks beautiful as a complete package. Generally, the series has struggled with performance, but on PS5 every level runs at a close to flawless 60fps, at a very clean 1800p.
There are small engine enhancements to Hitman 3, such as screen-space reflections and new assets and these are also applied to every level from the older games when booted from Hitman 3. Voice acting is solid throughout, with props to David Bateson as 47. The soundtrack across the trilogy is also excellent, a wonderful homage to the spy genre, with splashes of John Wick thrown in for good measure.
On its own Hitman 3 is a great package, throw in the entire trilogy in a single title……it’s pretty insane. Every level gets visual and performance enhancements at no extra cost and that is excellent. There’s nothing really bad to say about the series, AI can be ropey and easily exploited and PlayStation and PC owners might have some issues porting levels over to Hitman 3, but these are minor problems, and even if this is your first time with the series, you won’t be disappointed.
Hitman 3 was reviewed using a digital code purchased by the reviewer.
Publisher: Square Enix Developer: IO Interactive Release Date: 20th January 2021 2020 Reviewed On: PS5 Also Available On: PC/Steam, PS4, PS5,, Xbox Series X/ S