This latest release is the final outing in the World of Assassination series, which began in 2016, with the tattooed assassin arriving in the training centre of the ICA after being recruited by Diana Burnwood, who would go on to act as his handler. After years under Square Enix before joining up with Warner Bros Interactive Entertainment in 2018 to release Hitman 2, it’s now IO Interactive themselves who now hold the publishing rights for their hallmark title. And while this trilogy can be seen as its own entity, with each new release connected to the previous one, this final episode promises to be the most polished one yet. Fans have waited for this one with much caution, and yet, without giving too much away, they certainly won’t be let down.
- Genre: Stealth and Covert Execution
- Release Date: 20th January 2021
- Platform: PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series, Switch(Eshop), Stadia.
- Developer: IO Interactive
- Editor: IO Interactive
- Price: $59.99 on PC (Epic Games Store) and $69.99 on consoles (PS and Xbox) available on Amazon.
- Played on: PC
In the End, There Can Be Only One
Given that this is the third episode, it should be said right away that this section of the review will inevitably contain spoilers for the two prior episodes in this series. With that said, let’s get right into it. While the Constant may have been captured, his captors weren’t able to keep him under locks for long, as he managed to escape not long after. Fortunately, he was in captivity long enough to provide us with three key names linked with Providence, names that Lucas Grey and Agent 47 are now targeting in the UAE, at the summit of the tallest building in the world, Dubai’s The Sceptre. Alexa Carlisle, one of the three named revealed by the Constant, has decided to flee before 47’s arrival, reducing the number of targets to two. However, the bald assassin, aided by Lucas Grey, who controls the building’s access points, must now take out the other two as they revel in Sheikh Omar Al-Ghazali’s hospitality during the tower’s inauguration, hosted on its 180th floor.
Once the deed has be done, the duo heads to England, to Dartmoor, where Alexa Carlisle has elected to hold a fake funeral to mask conceal her attempt to escape the grizzly fate awaiting her. Her family, gathered within the halls of Thornbridge Manor, could not have anticipated her appearing in the small hours of the morning after burying her coffin barely a day before. Yet that isn’t the only surprise awaiting them, as Alexa’s brother is found dead in a sealed room next to a suicide note. However, Alexa doesn’t believe her brother to be capable of carry out such an act, and fearing murder, calls on the famous detective Phineas Witmer to decipher this mystery and find the murderer. Our favourite costume for this case lets you stand in for Witmer and lead the investigations yourself, using them for you own aims as you hunt down your main target, until you elect to change up your plan and approach the assassination from another angle.
Agent 47’s quest for redemption and freedom will then take him to Germany, to the heart of a disused factory in Berlin which has been turned into an incredibly selective club, where people come to dance and pair an intoxicating techno soundtrack with the consumption of illegal narcotics. Now carrying a price on his head following his rebellion from the ICA, Agent 47 must make use of the crowd to take on the ICA’s brightest and best and send clear message to his former employers. His world tour continues to China, Chongqing more precisely, where he must deal with two disciples of transhumanism who freely terrify the neighbourhood in their attempt to retain power. While they prey on the impoverished and the numerous homeless population, forcing them to do their bidding, Agent 47 can turn them against their masters and use them to open up another point of entry.
Without revealing too much about the story itself, Hitman 3 then follows the amnesiac former agent and Mendoza, his one-time handler, to Argentina, to the heart of a wine growing operation run by a figure with aspirations of becoming the third Constant, but who is currently celebrating their retirement from his official business. This level is filled with valid targets, all gathered in once place, giving Agent 47 the opportunity to do what he does best: move without being detected. Ultimately, the story ends where it first began, in Romania, where 47 returns for what he intends to be one last show of force before hanging up his hat and taking leave of the world of contract killings for good.
Even though the final destination is a bit of a let-down, each new location serves a real treat for the senses. With vivid detail and strong graphics, the game knows how to get the best out of itself visually, with stunning lighting and impressive reflections a common occurrence. This statement rings true in Dubai, with its visual motif of abundant riches, in Chongqing’s neon backstreets, and even in the foggy expanse covering the Carlisle Manor in Dartmoor. And that’s without mentioning our foray into the Berlin nightlife – to put it lightly, the game is visual treat. The way the crowd moves is also a real success and you never get that horrible feeling of stumbling into an army of clones. Each member of the crowd seems to have a sense of individuality influencing their actions and telling them what to do, which is a very effective tool in ensuring that civilians feel dynamic. And while this element of individuality fails to stand up to close inspection, which reveals them to be locked into a set routine, the result is nevertheless entirely convincing. In addition, these set routines are tools to be used by the player, as players can committing NPC movements to memory to open up new opportunities.
Agent 47, just like all other characters in the game, shows off an impressive range of animations, even down to finer details. If you leave 47 idle for long enough, the assassin will retain his composure, though his frequent counting of his fingers will betray his impatience and desire to get back to the task at hand. When playing through a level, you always feel like you’re dealing with credible and realistic characters, even if their actions are rather choreographed in the grand scheme of things. NPCs will hold multi-person conversations that either guide you towards new assassinations or simply exist to give you additional insight into the world of Hitman. While international gamers may bemoan the lack of a localised voice-over, with the game strictly adhering to English even when dealing with NPCS places like China or Romania, they can breathe easy knowing that Hitman 3 offers subtitles in their language, even if the occasionally patchy translations still result in some content being reserved for English-speakers only.
As for the sound design in Hitman 3, the latest outing in the series gives each level a dynamic set of sounds, complimented with a quality soundtrack that is both discrete and pulse-raising, though from a technical perspective, the rest of the game is essentially more of the same. While 47 may well be an expert when it comes to slipping into a crowd and effortlessly sliding between people, there are some noticeable collision errors on show. Similarly, Hitman 3 isn’t immune from loading bugs, like in a Chongqing laundrette, where the game only loads the cylinders of its washing machines, and not the machines themselves, leaving its insides to float in mid-air, tossing the clothes inside to-and-fro. Nevertheless, this still remains a rather anecdotal example, as the game generally runs completely fine. We only had a single crash during the sniper portion of the game.
Besides its campaign mode, Hitman does offer other game modes, such as Sniper mode, where you’re tasked with carrying out a set of long-ranged assassinations on various targets, all while creating diversions to prevent yourself from being detected. However, you’ll need to own the previous two outings in this series if you wish to play this mode, since Hitman 3 doesn’t introduce any new maps for this mode, besides the three that already exist in the earlier games. And when it comes to your accomplishments in Hitman 1 & 2, don’t forget that you can use your save data from these titles in Hitman 3, though you’ll have to be patient if you’re playing on PC, given that Hitman 3 has made the move to Epic Games Store, even though the first games in the series are on Steam, making transferring data between platforms an issue that the developers are looking into. Elusive Targets and Escalations are the two other game modes on offer and now feature six new maps for players to sink their teeth into, as do the Community contracts that players can contribute to themselves. On the other hand, multiplayer hasn’t survived the jump from Hitman 2. Players will no longer be able to play Co-op Sniper Assassin mode or Ghost after 31st August 2021, when the servers close for good.
An Outfit for Every Occasion
Agent 47 is a man of many styles, but he always knows how to move with the times. Hitman 3 continues the well-established formula we know all so well, with pre-and-post mission cutscenes as well as a level introduction designed to let the player figure out a plan of action. As for the cinematics, even though we may have been a bit overly critical in our preview – some really are quite spectacular – we’re still left wanting a bit more, and the quality of the cutscenes still feels behind the times of what you might expect from a AAA release. Nothing has changed when it comes to planning out your entry. You choose you where you start, the clothes you enter in (whenever you’re not forced to wear a certain costume to gain entry to the level), as well as your concealed weapon and any other gadgets you choose to bring with you or stash throughout the level. However, none of this will factor in to your first run of each level, where everything tends to be restricted and must be unlocked by gaining experience by playing through the mission. This eventually lets the player unlock different choices and new weapons and gadgets that can then be used in other missions, including introductory chapters and vice versa.
Once you enter into the level and begin to hunt down your target, Agent 47 will find himself on familiar ground. Thanks to his heightened sense of sight, 47 can easily locate his targets in addition to points of interest around them that can be used for his benefit, though players looking for an added challenge can always turn this option off before they embark. Alongside three different levels of difficulty, the game also offers a range of customisable features that can be tweaked to offer a completely personalised experience for the player. Eavesdropping on conversations between NPCs not only offers up important information that players can use to decide on their next point of action, but also serves to flesh out the world Agent 47 inhabits. That’s why it’s a good idea to keep an ear out, at least for your first run, as this time, in Hitman 3, the game makes concerted effort to link its episodes together, much more so than the previous two outings. It should also be said that the Berlin level offers a more stripped-back experience, as you’ll have to work out its secrets by yourself. By all means, you’ll have all the time in the world to return to older missions and try out new runs with different approaches since Hitman 3 prides itself on its replayability, with varied assassination paths to uncover alongside numerous challenges to complete. These challenges cover several possible ways to assassinate your target, especially with some options only becoming available once you’ve unlocked enough content.
In a similar vein, Hitman 3 introduces shortcuts that let the player quickly start from a certain point, provided they’ve unlocked it beforehand. However, these shortcuts are typically tucked away within a building’s interior, so you’ll have to make it inside at least once before you can unlock that path, which can then be used in later runs. This is an interesting addition to the game that is clearly indicative of the developers’ desire to prioritise replayability by opening up new angles of approach. Another new feature that Hitman 3 introduces to the series is a mobile camera that lets you tap in to certain electronic interfaces and control mechanisms like doors or windows. It can also be used to analyse certain aspects of the maps to provide hints or additional information, a feature that gets a lot of use during the murder investigation in Dartmoor. Besides that, there’s everything that makes Hitman 3 a Hitman game, that is the ability to conceal yourself wherever you wish – be it in a crowd, in the shrubbery, or in other places – alongside the ability to disguise yourself in a range of costumes and carry out affiliated tasks to prevent yourself from being detected by inquisitive forces.
Wearing the right outfit in the right area gives you free access to restricted areas, provided that you steer clear of anyone who might catch you out. NPCs that can do so are marked with a white icon that can disactivated in the options menu. You should also play close attention to any security checks that might stop you from carry weapons with you, though Agent 47 is inventive enough to find other ways of getting his arsenal through a checkpoint. And if your presence raises suspicions, a marker will pop up to alert you that people are searching for you, giving you time to hide away before it maxes out and you’re spotted for good. If that happens, you’ll have to quickly change your costume, find a way to conceal yourself, or give your pursuers the impression that you’ve fled, then take them out when they get close enough. Even though you’re generally supposed to move through the map undetected, only eliminating your targets and sparing innocents, you can also elect to use brute force and take on the enemy force head on. But remember, it’s just you against the world. Hitman 3 is, above all else, a sandbox game where you can try out different approaches one after another until you settle on your favourite. Hitman’s idiosyncratic gameplay has already proven itself in earlier releases, and Hitman 3 gameplay feels as good as ever. Travelling to the six new locations is a real pleasure, even if the final level, which acts as a sort of conclusion to the story, is a bit lacking when compared to the other five destinations. The final chapter of Hitman 3 offers a different approach to what players might expect from a game in the Hitman series, with fewer unique assassination opportunities than usual. Incidentally, the number of challenges on offer is far less than what you may be accustomed to. Agent 47’s trip to Romania draws this nearly 5-year long journey to a close. However, we have enjoyed our time with the bald assassin quite a lot, so much so that we hope that this won’t prove the last time we see him, what with IO Interactive now moving on to a new project based on the 007 IP.
Hitman 3 still know how to captivate its playerbase, and though this is the final chapter the World of Assassination trilogy, it manages to be the best out of all three, offering even more ways to play the game in the form of unlockable shortcuts for future runs. While we would’ve appreciated it if IO had put a bit more care into the cinematics, the in-game graphics more than make up for it, and there aren’t many bugs to speak of at all. The way that Hitman treats its crowds is as impressive as ever, even if the NPCs are in fact following a strict routine. Completionists will be happy to learn that Hitman 3 has retained its sandbox nature, which is remains a real strong point for the series.
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