Hitman 3 review for PC.
Hitman 3 is the end of an era. After birthing the series in 2000 and becoming synonymous with it since, IO Interactive is letting Agent 47 kick up his feet and have some well-deserved time off from all the coordinated killing. But his looming retirement has not dulled his killer instinct as Hitman 3 is one of his best contracts in the past two decades.
Oh, the places you’ll go (to commit murder)
It achieves such highs by knowing when to utilize Hitman’s strengths, when to deviate from them, and when to mix them around. Hitman 3, in typical Hitman fashion, takes 47 to a handful of exotic locations around the world. These exquisitely rendered locales are immensely dense, lived-in areas full of different subsections that all intelligently weave in and around each other somewhat like a Soulslike game.
IO has shown its mastery in that regard and it’s truly remarkable how the team can continually explore new territories while also maintaining such a high level of quality. For example, the old rural English mansion is wildly different from the gorgeous, neon-soaked streets of Chongqing and both even exhibit their depth in their own ways. The manor is stacked with multiple, detailed floors with its own smaller side areas while the Chongqing map is more about a few medium-sized facilities and how they link together.
All of the maps find ways to express themselves differently both aesthetically and architecturally like this to great effect. Its array of unique atmospheres make Hitman 3 a pretty game that, like the protagonist himself, can take many distinct forms and its architecture gives 47 the playground he needs to do what he does best: murder without restraint. The targets in each mission can be shot, burned, stabbed, blown up, or crushed in an uncountable amount of ways and all rely on the player’s wit and exploration skills. Levels are brimming with ways to assassinate and that freedom is still unmatched, especially the satisfying special or accidental kills that are filled with IO’s signature dark humor.
A million ways to skin a target
Jamming a ton of different toys and opportunities into each stage organically makes them so replayable, too. Whacking a target is then followed up by all the “what if” assassinations that could have been. Numerous challenges and unlocks extrinsically motivate players to experiment while the joy of finding and performing them is the intrinsic reward, both of which work together in harmony to make Hitman 3 almost endlessly replayable.
While IO deserves credit for maintaining that level of quality, unparalleled openness, replayability, and detailed sandbox level design are carryovers from the last two games. IO instead chose to innovate in how it doles out assassinations. Only two of the six stages are more typical Hitman missions where 47 is dropped in an area with a couple of targets, meaning that the other four take that idea and mix it around. The best of these ideas, like the oft-discussed Knives Out-esque murder mystery, take the core of Hitman and cleverly put those mechanics in a different context. Meticulously searching around is inherent to Hitman so it’s only natural to use those same skills to solve a murder rather than commit one.
Most of these unexpected wrinkles work out well, but a couple of them butt up against what Hitman stands for and suffer a bit because of it. Two of these changes are unexpectedly narrow, funneling a classically freeform series into something rather strict and comparatively less fulfilling. Serving the narrative has its positives and these sections are fine, but sacrificing such a core element of the series drags these parts down.
Traveling the World of Assassination
Hitman 3 has more than enough classic Hitman to make up for these slight deviations, especially since it carries over the entirety of the prior two entries (if players have purchased them). This approach does limit what new things Hitman 3 can do, which is slightly disappointing. However, it also allows the game to live under one digital roof where all three games coalesce into one big (and thankfully, compressed) launcher. Sequels usually replace their predecessors but they all sit alongside one another here with the same profile level and all of the added UI touches and enhancements from the most recent installment. Hitman 3 is an inclusive and forward-thinking culmination of this great “World of Assassination” idea.
The aforementioned limits mean Hitman 3 doesn’t have many big new features it can tout. Unlockable persistent shortcuts work with the game’s commitment to replayability and the new hacking camera has its uses (particularly during the murder mystery), but they are more small improvements over sequel-ready upgrades. Hitman 2 contained some meaningful changes — like working mirrors, a bigger stashing briefcase, and hiding in crowds — and Hitman 3 doesn’t offer a similar list of improvements. Virtual reality is admittedly new for the series, but that’s not something many people are going to experience as, on top of VR’s built-in niche appeal, it’s exclusive to the PS4 version (at least, for the time being).
Hitman 3 does add to the narrative though. It doesn’t do a great job of catching players up to its dense yet brief story, but it continually raises the stakes and places Agent 47 and Diana Burnwood in some tense scenarios, adding even more motivation to each mission. IO cashes in on their long history together and finds an emotional core that carries the story along, which is ironic for such an emotionless protagonist like 47.
Hitman 3 Review | The final verdict
Hitman 3’s story reflects IO’s time with the franchise as even skilled professionals must eventually move on and carve a new path for themselves. IO will be focusing its efforts elsewhere for the near future but it has at least left Hitman on a particularly high note. A suite of rich and highly detailed levels, open-ended mission design, and nearly endless replayability allow it to excel off its own merits, but easy access to the prior two entries makes Hitman 3 the ultimate Hitman experience that puts all of the trilogy’s successes under one poison-tipped umbrella. The bald, barcoded assassin has had many hits in his 21-year career, but even though it might be his last for quite some time, Hitman 3 is one of 47’s best executions yet.
Game Revolution reviewed Hitman 3 on PC. Code provided by the publisher. Hitman 3 is also on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, and (through streaming) Nintendo Switch.