With the conclusion of IO Interactive’s, world of assassination trilogy, Hitman 3, represents an evolution, more so than a revolution. Regardless, of some admittedly familiar territory, Hitman 3, so clearly displays a team firing on all cylinders. Agent 47’s careful and methodical stealth within dense playgrounds brimming with opportunities for chaos, returns in full force, but it all coalesces into IO Interactive’s magnum opus.
Hitman 3 Review – Setting the Stage
The emphasis on stealth and all the mechanics which enable said stealth, return, relatively similar to past entries. As the case with those games, Hitman 3, truly shines, once the player fully grasps just how far they can bend these systems. In this way, the game employs almost a, trial and error loop. Where, the player constantly hunts for what’s possible through various replays. Through these replays and the complete understanding of every crack and crevice of each level, Hitman 3 provides an undisputed level of satisfaction when everything comes together for the perfect kill.
In each of the games 6 locations, 47’s tasked with eliminating a target and leaving unnoticed. Regulating onlookers to a dumbstruck state. Now, you do this, typically through tossing on disguises to access previously, inaccessible areas. But, you need to remain wary, as these disguises don’t grant you full immunity from the gaze of superiors or civilians.
Your main goal consists of listening in on conversations, organically happening in the world, to help you gain new information to aid you in your hunt. Information that will open up new opportunities that get you closer to a target or even inside the lions den. The stealthier you can accomplish these tasks, the better rewards and score you will garner at the end. Of course, the amount of stealth or lack their of, completely rests on your shoulders. The tools are there, it’s up to you whether or not you want to utilize them.
It’s Good to be Free
Right from the jump, Hitman 3 pulls no punches. The introduction level titled, On Top of the World, sets the stage. A foundation, laid out flawlessly for what players can expect on their journey to dismantle Providence.
After a grand entrance which, sees 47 parachuting onto the building, he’s met with a truly, jaw-dropping sight. The tower’s lobby’s populated by the highest society, drinks go around with ease and for this one day, 47’s apart of the festivities. Once, inside this, spacious, layered tower gilded in gold, the possibilities begin to mount. 47’s given two targets, with the sole goal of eliminating them in whichever way you see fit. Will you follow the more, linear, scripted story missions that bring you face to face with your targets? Or will you carve your own unique path, leaving a trail of unnoticed chaos in your wake?
Either is viable and both are just as exciting.
And although, the sheer number of possibilities feels overwhelming at first, just know that experimentation is encouraged. Opportunities are laying about aplenty. Will you set up a target to die from an art display, burning him alive? Or, will you frustrate another target to such a degree, that he retreats to play golf on the balcony? Only to have him die from an exploding golf ball that he tees off into the world below.
The opportunities feel nearly limitless. From various disguises, secret locations, unique kills and everything in between, Hitman 3, provides a bloody playground. But, the onus falls on the player, to piece these individual parts together to form their own complete puzzle of murder. And often times, the true magic lies when a plan goes completely awry and its up to you to regroup and formulate a backup plan on the fly.
The End of an Era
An area where Hitman 3 managed to surprise me, was with its narrative. Agent 47 up to this point, has always been a vessel for me to carry out my maniacal schemes of murder. But, that’s not the case here. Everything has this, one final job, end of an era melancholy cloud hanging over the events of the campaign.
This is no more apparent in just how large the stakes feel this time around. Targets no longer feel sparingly related, instead there’s a sense that these people do work together. There’s a real, tangible relationship that connects them and in turn, connects all of the levels to one another. Major decisions, often are met with wide spread consequences, characters close to 47 die and there’s even some skeletons in the closet, that rear their ugly heads. Secrets so large, mind you, they actually manage to shake and waver your own stances on characters you’ve previously come to know.
It’s genuinely solid stuff.
Turning the Tables
While some levels, such as Dubai, can feel like treading old ground for some, Hitman 3 does tweak its established formula in interesting ways.
Hitman has built quite the reputation off of eliminating assigned targets as quietly as possible. But, what if you were the target this time? How would Agent 47 respond in a setting where, 10 hidden agents implanted into a Berlin rave, have come to hunt him down?
It’s a fantastic and tense change of pace, that’ll see you looking over your shoulder constantly. It’s such a stark contrast to the setting itself, in actuality.
The atmosphere is drenched in fog and bodies packed closely on the dance floor. Music’s booming and strobe lights stream vibrantly about. Amidst the fervor, lies a deadly game of chicken. You’re on your toes, fresh meat ensnared by incoming wolves. Hunted by skilled agents who know exactly what you look like. But what makes it so impactful, is just how unprepared you are. You go into this level, fairly blind. 47’s robbed of briefing or ability to prep. It’s just you, placed into unknown territory amongst the wolves and its bloody glorious. There’s no mission stories with this one, either. It’s purely IO Interactive saying, here you go, now figure it out. That level of trust, in not only your games mechanics, but in the player to find their own way, is rare to find.
One of the games later levels, concludes with your back against the wall as alarms blare overhead. You’ve tripped the alarm system of a facility and now, a swarm of guards are on their way after you. This really captured a sense of a desperate, scramble to safety as I sneaked my way as far as I could before having to dive into a last ditch fire fight just to make it out.
Once again, some levels will have veterans feel right at home. While others, really push your limits and force you to adapt and think on the fly.
Farewell for Now 47
Simply put, Hitman 3 is a hell of a sendoff for one of gamings most iconic characters. As well as, being a masterclass in level design, experimentation and pulling out the most from player creativity. It’s a game that loosens the reins without leaving players completely in the dark. IO Interactive builds off of what has come before, iterating their formula to its best yet, while still managing to throw in some curve balls here and there.
I’ve already spent 70 hours in Hitman 3 and honestly, don’t see a light at the end of the tunnel any time soon. Each challenge, each feat, each assassination and each secret, beckon me to uncover them. And trust me when I say, I will do exactly that.