To start off the new year, we have a magnificent return to one of the most beloved game franchises of the past five years. Unfortunately, Hitman 3 also marks the end of this exceptional trilogy, but it manages to conclude with the same level of strength it began with.
I have never been deeply invested in the story of the recent Hitman games, but Hitman 3 is the most story-driven installment of them all. Apart from the final level, you could probably skip the cutscenes without it affecting your enjoyment if the story doesn’t interest you. However, I highly recommend giving it a chance if you usually skip through the story.
Hitman 3 puts us in the shoes of Agent 47 as he teams up with Lucas Grey on his most dramatic and intense mission to date: to destroy Providence, a secretive organization similar to the Illuminati that shaped 47 into the assassin he is. It is no longer just about completing contracts; it becomes a personal quest to dismantle the group that stripped 47 of his humanity. In some ways, it feels like IO Interactive is revisiting themes introduced in Absolution.
This story delves deep into 47’s character development, going beyond his role as a vehicle for creative murder. One of my favorite moments in the game is completely optional and easy to miss. There’s an alternate starting point unlocked by completing one of the levels, where 47 begins on a walkway with an umbrella. A woman standing nearby asks if you’ve seen the girl she’s supposed to meet and wonders if she got stood up. 47 offers advice and provides some comfort. It’s a small but wonderful touch that made me appreciate Agent 47 as a character.
However, there is a price to pay for unraveling the layers of both 47 and his handler, Diana. Hitman 3’s story is relatively short, as expected. The majority of the game’s playtime is in the actual gameplay, so the moments that advance the narrative significantly are quite brief. This isn’t a major issue, but the shortened story does create some weak pacing. Whenever conflict arises, it tends to be quickly resolved. Additionally, you don’t get to spend as much time as you might want with certain characters.
Some of the more dramatic moments in Hitman 3’s story lack the impact they deserve. The story moves at a rapid pace, beginning and ending quickly. But of course, as I mentioned, most players are here for the action-packed gameplay, so this may not be a significant drawback for many.
The gameplay in this Hitman trilogy has remained consistent, drawing inspiration from the beloved Hitman: Blood Money. IO Interactive chose to refine rather than completely revolutionize the gameplay mechanics, which is perfectly fine because the formula was already near perfection. That said, the story allows for levels that shake up the formula in interesting ways, placing 47 in unexpected situations. It provides a refreshing change of pace but also reveals some flaws in the AI behavior.
While IO claimed to have made improvements to the AI leading up to the release, it is difficult to discern the specific changes they made. The targets still follow strict paths, which is necessary for executing various methods, but it becomes predictable. I also encountered instances where my cover was blown, resulting in gunfights. Gunplay has never been the trilogy’s strongest aspect, but it is serviceable, except for the AI. They sometimes move strangely, fail to attack, and exhibit other odd behavior.
AI enemies are not as effective in offensive play as they are at scripted activities. Once you disrupt their routine, they seem to struggle to adapt. However, unless you blow your own cover, there is little reason to engage with the AI in this way. The levels are overwhelmingly massive, offering countless ways to accomplish your objectives. You can find a sniper’s nest, drop a sack of bricks on someone’s head, or even manipulate situations to have someone else kill your target.
At times, I found myself cornered in challenging situations, knowing that escape would be difficult. Hitman 3 is a game that requires improvisation and adaptability as much as it demands planning. It is incredibly reactive, which makes it highly enjoyable and easily replayable.
One mission takes place in a massive estate after one of its residents is believed to have committed suicide. The family suspects foul play and brings in a renowned detective to investigate. If you choose, you can disguise yourself as the detective and create your own version of the movie “Knives Out.” There are numerous clues to discover, witnesses to interrogate, and pieces to put together. Without spoiling anything, I can say that you can use these elements to your advantage and devise creative ways to eliminate your target. It is an immensely satisfying experience that elevates the game beyond simply disguising yourself as a therapist and smothering someone with a pillow (although that is also quite entertaining). IO’s ability to consistently provide engaging and entertaining challenges is evident.
Additionally, several elements enhance the levels in Hitman 3. With up to 300 NPCs in one location, the levels feel densely packed, and navigating through drunken party-goers creates a sense of claustrophobia. The large crowds also serve as an opportunity to blend in and evade pursuers. It adds a challenge while also providing an organic advantage for the player.
I reviewed the game on Xbox Series X, where it benefits even more. The visuals are stunning, with incredible detail, lighting, and a buttery smooth 60 FPS. In a level featuring a noticeable downpour, you can see individual rain droplets on 47, creating small streams on his bald head. The addition of neon lights reflecting off the puddles further enhances the visual aesthetic. It is truly breathtaking.
Once you complete the main game, there is a plethora of additional content to explore. You can revisit Hitman 1 and 2 (purchased separately) with all the new weapons, tools, and enhancements introduced in Hitman 3. There are also numerous side missions, such as sniper assassinations, and escalation missions that present new challenges. There is no shortage of replay value. Whether it’s the story, the levels, or the sheer amount of content, Hitman 3 offers exceptional value for your money.
Hitman 3 is undoubtedly the pinnacle of the trilogy in terms of storytelling and level design. It provides a high level of quality and greatness. Despite being able to complete the main story relatively quickly, there is no reason why you can’t invest dozens of hours into the game once you’re done. It offers an abundance of content without sacrificing quality.
Although Hitman 3 marks the end of this trilogy, it is clear that IO will continue to work on the character of Agent 47 after a detour into the 007 universe. This is not the end of Hitman; it is merely the conclusion of this iteration of Agent 47, and I eagerly await his return.