Though it is an excellent game by most metrics, Hitman 3 is likely the least-flashy entry of the three that developer IO Interactive has released in recent years. It has a lot in common with its predecessors, which is what makes it so fun to play, but by comparison to the other two installments, Hitman 3 does very little of note when trying to stand on its own. Despite some qualms, however, it’s very much a worthy conclusion to the end of the World of Assassination trilogy.
Hitman 3 picks up after the events of the last game where players are tasked with trying to snuff out the final remaining members of the group known as Providence. Agent 47, who is once again the player-controlled character, is joined by his friend Lucas Grey in this pursuit, meaning that the iconic assassin is not all on his lonesome this time around.
Storytelling has never really been the strong suit in any of the Hitman games, and Hitman 3 does very little to change that. In fact, compared to the previous titles in this trilogy, Hitman 3 leans a bit more into its narrative, which is somewhat to its detriment. The story that is being told here isn’t a bad one, but I found it to be hard to become invested in. Agent 47 isn’t the most charismatic lead character which makes it difficult to care about his arc.
The biggest issue that I have with the story of Hitman 3 though is that more so than the two games before it, the narrative tends to have a somewhat major impact on the locations you visit. Hitman 3 boasts six new locales in total, and for the most part, they’re all pretty entertaining. That being said, the game’s sixth and final location is largely on-rails and is meant to bring the story to a nice and neat conclusion. In doing so, it throws out many of the mechanics and conventions that are commonplace throughout the rest of the series and instead bottlenecks players into a sequence that plays more like a conventional third-person shooter than a Hitman game.
For Hitman 3 to then really only have five locations that are worth revisiting and playing through multiple times over is a bit underwhelming. Much like previous entries, Hitman 3 will surely continue to be built out over the coming months and years and new locales will arrive in due time. That said, it’s hard not to wish that there was a bit more here from the start.
Outside of just the sheer number of levels feeling somewhat lax right now, each location is still largely a masterfully crafted playground that allows you to use all of its tools in your own way. Some of the standout new areas include Dubai, which takes place in the world’s tallest skyscraper, and Dartmoor, which is set in a mansion in the middle of nowhere and gives off murder-mystery vibes akin to Rian Johnson’s Knives Out. Other stages include Berlin, Mendoza, and Chongqing, each of which I had a few niggles with here and there. Chongqing, in particular, I found to be a bit too labyrinthine, but perhaps I just need to play it through a few more times to get a better handle on how it’s constructed.
Even with the above caveats, I cannot stress enough that Hitman 3 remains an absolute joy to play. Slowly prodding your way through each location, accumulating information, and then going in for the kill on your targets is just as enjoyable as it has been in the past. Each level also offers dozens of permutations when it comes to how you can take down your targets as well, meaning that you’ll be replaying them countless times if you want to see all that they have to offer. While I wish some of the deaths you can carry out could be brought to fruition a bit more quickly, that moment that you do capitalize on a kill that took you forever to set up remains oh so satisfying.
Honestly, this is where Hitman 3 continues to find its stride perfectly. The game is less about beating each level once and moving on to see the story play out and is more about making return trips to each destination to find the most enthralling ways to take down each Providence member. Heck, this is also why Hitman 3 (much like the last game) allows you to just dive right into any of the six locations it offers as soon as you boot it up rather than needing to play them in sequential order.
One of the new things that I ended up liking the most about Hitman 3 comes with how IO Interactive has continued to add new features that assist with replayability. The studio has baked in a variety of new qualities that make return visits to levels that much more enticing than before. One of these elements comes in the way of shortcuts. Rather than having to navigate through every section of a level all over again in return visits, players can now unlock shortcuts that will be permanently opened upon every ensuing playthrough.
A handful of new progression systems have also been thrown in meaning that you’ll always have something new to work towards. Hitman 3 doles out experience to you after every mission that you complete, letting you advance towards unlocking new gear and items that you can then use on future levels. As someone who is a sucker for the whole loop of gaining experience and unlocking additional items, this scratched a certain itch for me that I wouldn’t have expected from a Hitman game. This new system also condenses what was seen in Hitman 2 and makes acquiring new gear much easier than before.
And while this is a given, it’s really nice to once again have everything from Hitman in one package. Much like Hitman 2 did, if you own all of the content from the previous two installments, it will all populate here in Hitman 3. This doesn’t just mean that the old games have come over, but they’ve also now transitioned to this new iteration of the game engine that IO Interactive uses. The engine itself is largely the same as before, though there is a somewhat noticeable difference when it comes to visuals. You may not be able to notice these graphical enhancements all the time, but there are certain vistas that you’ll come across in Hitman 3 that will surprise and impress you.
It’s also worth throwing out there that one of the big new features in Hitman 3 is that of virtual reality support on PlayStation 4 for those who own a PSVR headset. Sadly, I didn’t get to check this element of the game out as I reviewed the game in its entirety on PC. That being said, I don’t think the VR implementation will be a game-changer. It’s a cool aspect to now have available, but the levels themselves seem to still play out in the same manner, just from a different perspective.
Hitman 3 isn’t a game that I would call bad in the slightest, but it hasn’t done a lot to wow me out of the gate. It feels more like an expansion than a showy, new sequel. Still, even with a handful of drawbacks, the promise is there that this will only continue to be a game that grows and gets better over time.
To that end, I would express that Hitman 3 isn’t a game you necessarily need to look to pick up right this moment, but it’s one you should have on your radar in the future. And even if you are looking to snag it now, what’s here boasts countless hours of gameplay for you to get lost in. Hitman 3 is a title that will surely keep you quite entertained in this dry period of gaming releases — especially if you’ve got nothing else to play.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Hitman 3 is scheduled to release on January 20th for PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PC, and GoogleStadia. A PC code was provided by the publisher for the purpose of this review, and it was reviewed on a custom-built computer.