REVIEW: ‘Hitman 3’ Executes Suits, Immersive Maps, and Creativity (XSX)

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Hitman 3

Let’s start this review by saying that I am unashamedly in love with Agent 47 and the Hitman series, but up until now, I haven’t put as many hours into the franchise as I  would like. Developed and published by IO Interactive, Hitman 3 is the conclusion to the World of Assassination Trilogy. With sandbox locations across the world, Agent 47 is back to being a ruthless and sharp-dressed assassin for some of the most important contracts of his career.

Like other Hitman games, Agent 47 is supported by his Agency handler, Diana Burnwood. But, for this outing, Agent 47 joins forces with his long-lost friend Lucas Grey and pursues their ultimate mission: eliminating Providence, once and for all. With each contract and location change, they’re forced to adapt as their hunt intensifies. As an end to a trilogy, the game is great, but it also manages to stand on its own with each mission pushing players to get creative, competitive, or both. Each mission features restrictions. Standard to the series, the plan will let you know your targets, the restricted loadout you’ll have, and any requirements that impact how your target should be eliminated. For example, some will have restrictions on what disguise you can wear when you eliminate your target.

But even with restrictions, Hitman 3’s extensive challenges will push you to do more than just hit the missions’ requirements—if you want. The game rewards for silenced kills, creative eliminations, and the list goes on and on. The world of Hitman 3 is honestly the most fun I’ve had failing a mission repeatedly. Because let’s be honest, the stealth elements of the Hitman series aren’t for anyone. Me; I’m everyone. Despite my love of the series, I’m not good at stealth. I mean, I self-report myself in Among Us, if you need a gauge. That said, while I got frustrated at some parts of missions, the ability to fail, try again, and try anyway I wanted within a sandbox map made me keep hitting play again and again.

This is crucial for the game. While some people find joy in the difficulties of games it can be too much for some players, especially when there is only a prescribed way to use the level’s mechanics. But in Hitman 3, like others in the series, you can choose to eliminate your target a number of different ways and as you clear mission after mission, you start to understand your own playstyle and you begin to move a little faster. In addition to this though, you can also choose to replay missions with different restrictions and by doing so, change the way you interact with the level designs. With new and different challenges, the first way you cleared it may not help you the second time around and this alone increases replayability. While you’re locked into what the game chooses for missions at first, you can replay them with different load-outs, different starting points, and my favorite, different starting suits for subsequent playthroughs.

Now, having the ability to replay doesn’t necessarily mean that you want to. But Hitman 3 does a good job of making that option enticing. This is thanks in large part to the sandbox locations that the game offers. Truly, this game rewards you for exploring and the more you explore, the more you find to make your job not just easier but also make it faster. No matter how long I spent in a location, even when it was just a mansion, it always felt like there was more to find and do. This is also bolstered by Mission Stories, which allows you to play through rotating missions that offer different challenges and focus on different playstyles. These missions happen in campaign locations but have no impact on the story of the campaign itself but instead, assign you different targets and takes you to different and sometimes untraveled areas of the map – which is the case for a sniping mission in Chongqing, the game’s most gorgeous map.

It’s in these Mission Stories that I got to find out what kind of Hitman player I am. Do I silently stalk through the halls and try my best to blend in? Spoiler, no that’s not me, I’m very very bad at that. Do I put on every disguise I can find? Hide those I eliminated? Do I just go run and gun? Well, truth is, I ended up going with what fits the mission but in my own way. The beauty of Hitman 3 is that you can experiment with many different playstyles and not be confined to completing the game in just one style. From stealth to brute force and all the disguises in between, I can solidly say that Hitman 3 is a game for any kind of player, not just the stealthy.

Additionally, the game scores you at the end of each mission, adding a competitive challenge for players looking for it. The system calculates all of the actions you performed in the mission and rates you accordingly, from Apprentice Sniper to Expert Marksman—and of course, the coveted Silent Assassin. But you aren’t dinged for not hitting more challenges. Hitman 3 manages to reward players for pushing themselves with difficulty without punishing players who don’t want that kind of adventure and that’s a damn good thing.

When it comes to new additions, IO Interactive added a gameplay-focused Shortcuts feature to encourage exploration, reward curiosity, and incentivize replayability. This means that certain doors, access points, and the like can only be unlocked from one direction, but once you unlock them, they will permanently open up powerful shortcuts for future playthroughs which can impact the opportunities and playstyle you pick when you return to that map.

But that’s not all. IO Interactive has also given Agent 47 a new default item, a camera. Games nowadays are not complete without a photo-mode but, Agent 47’s camera also serves a purpose beyond mirror selfies (of which I took many). The camera in the game allows Diana to help you scan certain items and collect clues, or even allow her to remotely open locked doors and windows. It is important to note that this isn’t a full photo-mode the way you experience in other games. You don’t have the ability to shift the camera around the areas or pose, but you do get to take pictures as you would with a mobile phone, hence the mirror selfies, which, again, I took many. Now it should be noted that pictures taken with this camera aren’t automatically saved in-game. While the camera offers filters, depth, and can be adjusted, you must use your local screen save functions to save your brooding mirror selfies.

Hitman 3

But with gameplay out of the way, we have to talk about the game’s character and map designs. While there are some moments where elements don’t render no matter how many times I leave and come back to an area (hello floating detergent on what’s supposed to be washing machines in Chongqing), these moments are few and far between. In fact, I can forgive all the small glitchy moments for the pure beauty of the clothing in the game, specifically, the detail that goes into Agent 47’s starting outfits—namely the suits. The clothing replicates its fabric extremely well, from leather pants to a rain-soaked coat, the clothing is gorgeously designed. That said, it’s well done for the male characters, but in the second to last mission of the game, we see that the same detail isn’t given to the women’s formal wear. While Agent 47 looks striking in his starting suit, and all the subsequent costumes you can disguise yourself as, the dresses of the targets feel incomplete and don’t share the same amount of detail.

Beyond the sexy suits that are worthy of mirror selfies (again, of which I took many), the maps of Hitman 3 are gorgeous, vast, and highly detailed. From the world’s tallest skyscraper to a mansion fit for a Rian Johnson murder mystery, a dream sequence that blends cinema and gameplay in a beautifully emotive way, a moving train, and my favorite, Chongqing, a neon-lit city of various levels and hidden buildings, Hitman 3 is just gorgeous. Each location is also complimented with a score that is fantastic and emotive enough to just leave the game playing to listen to it.

When it comes to the story of Hitman 3 I can fully say, I play Hitman to stare at Agent 47 and to knock people out with soda cans. This was a trend I expected from this game, but instead, I found myself deeply invested in the story and the glimmer of Agent 47’s love for Diana. In fact, this investment made me play the last mission of the game without any semblance of trying to blend in. Instead, mad at the situation Agent 47 was in, I rampaged through the confined map and left no one alive. When I was done with the game I realized how much I had started to let the game’s story and the emotion it tries to pull from the player impact how I chose to complete my missions, who I subdued, and who I eliminated.

As I mentioned before, there are some moments that the game visually looks less polished, and this is mainly in some of the cinematic sequences. Unlike other games, the cinematics has nearly the same graphic quality as the gameplay, which seamlessly drops you into your next mission. This can be frustrating with certain close-ups, especially when it comes to hair, but it pays off in the game’s final act, which you’ll have to play to find out why. That said, none of this is a game-breaker, as it was for previous Hitman titles. This is because of how beautiful the game looks when you’re walking around locations as Agent 47.

Finally, Hitman 3 is also meant to act as a platform for the entire World of Assassination trilogy. This means that it allows players to experience the full three-game campaign from within Hitman 3, and you can also upload your saved playthrough of Hitman 2, loading all unlocked items and location mastery progress directly into Hitman 3. Additionally, all 20+ locations will be enhanced with the new visual and gameplay improvements that are being introduced with Hitman 3, such as improved animations and screen space reflections. When you have all locations in Hitman 3, the progression systems work across all of those locations, meaning you can unlock an item in a Hitman 3 it will also be unlocked in the previous games. This makes for a seamless experience between all locations and allows players to revisit earlier locations. Now, this does come with an asterisk, in that you must already own Hitman 1 and Hitman 2 to utilize this to the fullest (with PC players needing to make repurchases from the Epic Store, but that’s another topic).

When all is said and done, Hitman 3 has a few hiccups, but it’s a stunning finale to the series and a fantastic game to play even if you haven’t played the ones before it. The way the writing of the game lays out past events helps ensure that even if you didn’t beat the last two in the franchise, you’re up to speed with the story so far. Throw in the added elements to get you playing missions multiple times and the more expansive online elements I have not mentioned here and you have a game worthy to pick up on launch day.

Hitman 3 releases January 20, 201 for PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, PSVR, Xbox Series S/X, Xbox One, Google Stadia, PC (Epic Games Store), and Nintendo Switch via cloud streaming technology.

Hitman 3
  • 8.5/10
    Rating - 8.5/10
8.5/10

TL;DR

When all is said and done, Hitman 3 has a few hiccups, but it’s a stunning finale to the series and a fantastic game to play even if you haven’t played the ones before it. The way the writing of the game lays out past events helps ensure that even if you didn’t beat the last two in the franchise, you’re up to speed with the story so far. Throw in the added elements to get you playing missions multiple times and the more expansive online elements I have not mentioned here and you have a game worthy to pick up on launch day.