The culmination of the new Hitman trilogy is finally upon us, delivering an absolute essential stealth action experience right before developer IO Interactive turns their attention towards Project 007. An overwhelming amount of critical praise has poured in – our 4.5/5 review for instance – alongside a hefty number of unfortunate, yet identified technical issues tied to their “carry over” progression and mastery system, leaving many saddened by the grim reality that this might be our last endeavor with Agent 47.
Though mechanically identical to its predecessors – save for a new camera tool that offers players the chance to hack certain passages and windows in each mission – Hitman 3 bleeds refinement and mastery from the very start. IO Interactive understands what makes these games so appealing, and they’ve undoubtedly outdone themselves. The level design here is an absolute technical marvel – from thousands of feet up in the fictional rendition of Dubai’s Burj Khalifa, to the neon-soaked streets of Chongqing, China in the “End of an Era” mission. Hitman 3 is a pleasure to look at, while also vastly expansive in both level design and gameplay. I assure you, you’ve seen nothing like it.
The reimagining of the series in Hitman 2016 brought about massive environments that begged its players to explore every nook and cranny before moving on to the next, and a new mission stories mechanic that played out like smaller pieces in a much larger puzzle. IO’s technical prowess was on full display from the very start, showcasing the impressive NPC count on screen at once. Though somewhat lacking in the linear storytelling department the series has seen previously, IO heard and listened to its community, delivering a fitting and seemingly emotional finale to its lasting legacy.
Before delving into more detail on the newest installment, I want to extend a SPOILER WARNING for those who have yet to finish.
Hitman 3 boasts five main missions, with the last – based on a speeding train in the Carpathian Mountains that gives off stark comparisons to Snowpiercer – serving as more of a linear conclusion to the story than an actual open-ended environment. While preparing this article, I failed to pick a favorite out of them all. In previous installments, there was always at least one that I felt indifferent about, but that isn’t the case here. Dubai is a fantastic opening mission that introduces us to the new camera tool, while also showing off the engine’s sheer technical capabilities.
Dartmoor plays out like a “whodunit”, tasking Agent 47 with solving the manor’s complex murder mystery before getting in close to your target. I spent three hours replaying this mission and I’m still discovering new possibilities. Chongqing presents a near flawless level with themes of power abuse and poverty soaked from within its neon-lit streets and from the depths of its futuristic laboratory beneath the city. The last true, open-ended mission of Mendoza offered up some of the most creative and brutal kills in the series, while also effortlessly seaming its threads back into the fibres of the central narrative. One of the targets can be taken down by a bullet from a sniper team at your command, while the other is electrocuted in his own winery.
As mentioned previously, the final mission in the Carpathian mountains, though lacking in its demand for creativity, is an exciting and fast-paced conclusion that still implores replayability.
Hitman 3’s returning levelling system adds even more incentive to replay all of the missions, as it rewards you with new starting locations, additional smuggling locations, and new lethal and non-lethal equipment to your inventory. There’s nothing quite like unlocking the explosive rubber duck only to then use it to blow up your target within mere seconds of starting the mission. This series, especially the new trilogy, wants its players to explore their creativity, while also remembering every inch of the map. The entire package may initially come off as a bit overpriced, but every fan of the series understands that the real fun comes after your first playthrough.
IO is a fantastic developer who had the chance to develop and publish their own game this time around. Based off of their track record, the odds of us getting additional DLC missions for Hitman 3 are extremely high. Hitman 3 is out now for PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PS4 and PS5.