Welcome to the complete World Of Assassination.
Agent 47 and his team are back to conclude this world-spanning reboot of the classic stealth series. Once again players get to don the red tie and cold stare of everyone’s favourite cloned assassin. With this new instalment developer IO Interactive have given us six new locations, varying from the world’s tallest tower in Dubai to a Country Manor in Dartmoor UK and even a Berlin Nightclub. As with the last two titles, there is a target to eliminate but how you get to them and finish them off is at your own discretion.
Dubai presents plenty of opportunities to dispose of the body of a target
Behind the scenes the developer has had a rollercoaster ride releasing this series. Hitman 2016 released episodically in collaboration with Square Enix which was not a popular choice among players with many waiting for the physical release of the complete game before jumping in. Once Square & IO went their separate ways IO managed to keep hold of the Hitman IP and continued working on their sequel, 2018’s Hitman 2, which was distributed by Warner Bros. After this they took the step to move away from WB and self publish Hitman 3 which has worked in their favour as the game made back its entire budget within six days of launch.
But is Hitman 3 worth playing?
Getting the negative out of the way first. Hitman 3 was hit by some serious issues upon its launch in January 2021. Since Hitman 2016 the game has always required an online connection to allow progress to be saved. If you attempted to play the game offline or lost connection before completing the mission, not only could the mission progress be lost, but you would earn no XP for that level.
This seemed to be a puzzling choice for a single-player game with no online gameplay but this a feature that has remained for both Hitman 2 & 3.
When Hitman 2 launched players of the previous game were told they would automatically have their levels available in the second game via a Legacy Pack download with all the new gameplay bells and whistles that Hitman 2 offered. This is something very rarely seen in many game series with the most similar being something like Mass Effect allowing your gameplay choices to carry across multiple games.
Agent 47 never went clubbing as a teen
However, there was a catch. The original levels were available in Hitman 2 but there was no transfer of progression, meaning that all unlocks in the first game had to be done again as well as the trophies if you wanted to 100% Hitman 2.
The developer clearly saw this issue and decided to remedy this for Hitman 3. Your IO account allowed for progression to be brought across from Hitman 2, however, the account was only accessible through a section of IO’s own website.
Unfortunately, this process was not available until the day the game launched which resulted in the website crashing due to the sheer level of traffic and multiple players, myself included were unable to access their previous progression in the new game. This wouldn’t be a huge issue considering we wanted to play the new levels, but any progress made in Hitman 3 before the progress transfer was instantly wiped. Unfortunately at the time of writing some players, most noticeably PC players, are still struggling to get their progression moved or have access to their pre-order content.
IO Interactive has been working hard since launch to fix these issues and have communicated very well with their players via social media for which I personally credit them very highly.
Stand here to hear some great advice from 47
Hitman 3 follows the story set up in Hitman 2016 that was expanded upon by its sequel. 47, Diana & Lucas Grey are on the tail of the shadowy organisation Providence having captured The Constant at the end of the last game. However, a link to both Diana and 47’s past threatens to tear a hole in this team and derail the entire mission.
As with the previous titles the story is not the main focus of the game, and due to the nature of the story taking place during short cut scenes at the beginning and end of each level, you can power through this in around six hours or less depending on how long you spend wandering around the levels.
Chongqing feels like it has a whole other world bustling in the streets below
The story itself plays out really well, with some unexpected plot points taking place which leads up to a final showdown with The Constant, but all in all the finale may not be as grand as expected. However, this story is very much about the journey more than the destination and playing through mission by mission and experiencing the revelations is really great.
As great as the story is in places, it does however play second best to Hitman’s best feature……
Hitman 3, as with 1 & 2, has some of the most solid gameplay mechanics of any title of recent years.
Each level drops you into a large sandbox map filled with often hundreds of NPC’s who all have a routine to follow; whether that be as simple as standing in a crowd or walking large parts of the map. Yes, these routines are repeated, but as Agent 47 you can disrupt this by bumping into them, leaving weapons laying around or doing something illegal which will result in the NPC either attempting to arrest you if they’re a guard or running off to tell security personnel what you were doing and most importantly what you looked like and were wearing.
Sometimes Agent 47 offers the full death package
Cleverly the map is split into sections for the general public and various levels for staff and security only. For example, in the Chongqing level 47 can walk around most of the streets and even a launderette in his street clothes, but if he enters a kitchen area he will be called out for trespassing unless he is wearing a chefs outfit. Or in a certain facility within the level he will need a security outfit, but the first security outfit you find may not get you to the lower levels that you require access to in order to complete your objective.
A further foil to this is the enforcer, a member of a group who will recognise Agent 47 as an unknown person even if he’s in an outfit that will allow him in the certain area, these enforcers are noticeable by the white dot above their heads.
Using a mix of sneaking and wardrobe theft, often requiring pacifying NPCs, you can work your way to your target and try to eliminate them without being noticed. But the beauty here with the gameplay is that how you go about this is not a fixed path. There are several ways to achieve a silent assassin rating. But if stealth isn’t for you there are other options.
Some of the interiors are stunning
If you do not wish to get up and close with your target you may wish to take a sniper rifle and find a high vantage point to eliminate your target or even look for an environmental option to dispose of them. Explosive devices are also available, just be ready to run for the nearest exit or hide somewhere until the guards stop searching.
Then there are always other options for playing the game. For those that like more anarchy Hitman will allow you to eliminate or pacify any NPC, meaning that you can kill as many or as few as you wish. Certain players have managed to kill everyone on a level including their target or even, as player RTgame Daniel showed, you could pacify the entire town of Sapienza and drag them all into a freezer to then try and eliminate with a well placed explosive, however, his master plan was foiled when the bodies closest to the explosive formed a protective shield for the rest of the unconscious residents.
These neon lit streets look amazing even on a previous gen console
The game gives you the freedom to explore any option you can think of, but it is always worth playing through the mission stories as they deliver some of the best scripted moments of the game. With veteran voice actor David Bateson delivering Agent 47’s iconic voice for over 20 years, each mission story is scripted in a way that has 47 interacting with unsuspecting targets or other NPCs in order to be all but escorted to his target all while delivering ironic pun-filled dialogue.
Highlights include pretending to be a back street barber in Mumbai, interviewing for a bank job in New York and being shown inkblot cards that oddly look like explosions or even a certain suited gentleman brandishing twin pistols. In the new Dubai level 47 can steal the outfit of an assassin who has been hired by your target to kill a journalist, this will allow you to meet with the target and let you brag about your skills as an assassin before gaining his trust and getting a private meeting with him.
47’s job takes him to luxurious locations like this underground club
Each level can be replayed multiple times to attempt different strategies or find secret areas and easter eggs as well as hidden joke exits and through the menu for each level. There are multiple challenges available some of which will unlock hidden items, some only give extra XP when completed which will unlock new starting locations or hidden stash areas within that level allowing for more options when replaying.
Then comes the post-launch content. IO have supported the previous two games right up until shortly before the official announcement of the next game. This would include new Escalation Missions where you will have an objective to complete in level 1 but level 2 will introduce extra criteria, whether that is new targets or extra security to avoid. Escalations come usually with 3 levels of difficulty but some will task you with complete 5.
Available post-launch as with the previous 2 Hitman games is Elusive Targets, these missions are the most serious and often frustrating of any within Hitman. The target is only available for a certain time, once you have started the mission you only have 48hrs to complete. You can restart as often as you like as long as you have not died.
Another complication is that your target is not highlighted by Agent 47’s Instinct Vision meaning that some targets you will have to find by either using a single photo or just a description from Diana.
Elusive Targets have also included celebrity cameos such as Gary Busey and Sean Bean. Will there be another celebrity face for when Elusive Targets eventually return for Hitman 3? Personally, I’d love to see Keanu Reeves make an appearance as a rival Hitman that needs eliminating.
No not the Hitman game from the Playstation 2 era, but Hitman’s own online competitive mode which doubles as a creative suite.
Contracts allows you to play fan-made mission based in the maps you know and love but with different targets and sometimes criteria like what outfit you must be wearing or what method of elimination must be used. You can search for a contract based on various search options like location and number of targets etc and once completed you can see how your own score ranks against other players across the world. Will you be the best Assassin in the world?
If you prefer to get creative than making a contract is easy. Once in contract creation mode select a target using Agent 47’s Instinct Vision and then kill them in any way you fancy. The important thing with Contract Mode is that a contract cannot be uploaded unless it can be completed by its creator, so you can go into a contract knowing that it can’t be impossible, although it may well feel that way.
Playstation VR Mode
I was surprised when 47’s hands first did this in VR
That’s right agents, thanks to the power of virtual reality you can step into the shoes of 47 and see through his eyes all without having to shave your head or get an inconspicuous barcode tattoo. With this new mode all levels from Hitman 3 and the previous two games can be played in VR on Playstation 4. At this time there is no support for PC VR but this may come once the Epic Store exclusivity for Hitman 3 expires.
Hitmans VR mode plays somewhat differently from the standard version, the biggest change being the controls. Although there is no Move controller support, the Dualshock 4s Sixaxis and light bar can be used for weapon aiming and for swinging melee items. This can be used in new ways such as allowing you to tap someone on the shoulder to get them to look a different way and even to control the arc at which you hit someone with an item. By far the funniest thing to see in VR is how 47’s hands go to a target throat when sneaking up behind them, it surprised me the first time.
Don’t look down especially in VR
The other gameplay changes are things like the lack of a mini-map in the bottom of the screen and the Instinct Vision being reduced to a market showing where your target is. In comparison to the standard mode this can make the game a little tougher, for example, you will no longer know who’s in a room until you step through the door.
There can be some negatives to the VR mode, full locomotion does lend itself more towards motion sickness, but there are options available to help reduce this and some textures or crowds do pop in during VR mode which can be a little distracting but this may get improved over time.
The scale of the levels is impressive when viewed in VR
Even with these changes the VR mode is still exceptionally done and is proving very popular among PSVR players as they have essentially been given 3 new VR games in 1.
Hitman 3 rounds out the World Of Assassination trilogy with solid stealth gameplay and tons of replayability allowing for exploration and experimentation. As much as the story may not be the most exciting even with those few excellent moments, the gameplay is the star of the show and makes this game worth every penny if that appeals to you. Hitman 3 takes the approach of if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.
Also with the track record of post-launch content for the previous games, Hitman 3 will hopefully continue to grow and grow over the next few years.
As a fan of the previous two titles, Hitman 3 delivers everything expected and a little more.
I know I will personally still be playing for the next few years, whether that is elusive targets or just trying different challenges or trying to find easter eggs. Hitman 3 is a masterpiece of a video game.
Thank you IO Interactive, I cannot wait to see what you will bring to the table with Project 007.
Review based on the PS4 version of the game.
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