Hitman has always been one of the most underrated franchises in gaming. That’s not a massive surprise considering its stealth focus and slower pace, but besides Hitman Absolution, every single game in the series has been worth playing. Hitman 3 is the culmination of years and years of sharpening and experimenting with that formula, and is once again a game that absolutely everyone should play. It’s a game that shows once again that IO Interactive are the masters of their craft, and it is incredible that after so many games in the series they’ve still got new ideas and ways to play with the formula. This is the best Hitman game that there’s been, and an incredibly fitting way to leave the character and world on rest for a while.
The third game in the “World of Assassination” trilogy sees Agent 47, alongside Lucas Grey, as they try to take down Providence once and for all. Most of those words aren’t going to mean a thing to you if you haven’t played the other titles, but all you really need to know is that Agent 47 is the best Hitman there is and that there’s tons of betrayal and deeper layers within the organizations.
Sadly, much like the other titles, the story isn’t very gripping here either and mostly just serves as a means to an end. It’s arguably got the best scenes out of the trilogy, but that’s more because the other games didn’t really do much. One thing I’m glad to see the return of is full-motion cutscenes, rather than the still images with voice-overs from Hitman 2.
Although most of it the story falls flat, the last two missions of the game actually introduce some cool story twists and actually have some great moments for Agent 47 and Diana that made me wish more had been done earlier in the story. Most of what happens in the story here is a retread of what we’ve seen in previous games, just with new villains and a new overall motive. Everything ends rather flatly and unimaginatively as well, which is a shame considering that this was touted as the dramatic finale. Still, the story serves its purpose and keeps you going throughout.
As was the case in previous games, the real stories are the ones you make through your assassinations and through gameplay and that’s where Hitman 3 truly shines. This is the best iteration of the formula yet, with some of the most interesting and replayable missions and some of my favorite locations across the trilogy.
Playing Hitman 3 is much the same as it has been throughout the series. Agent 47 goes to an exotic location with one or more targets in it, and you need to sneak throughout the map avoiding detection, disguising yourself, and setting up the kill in various different ways. As you explore the maps, you find new items, outfits, and ways to silently cause chaos, which leads to better scores and faster takedowns. Each level is really like its own puzzle, with the player unlocking more pieces the more they explore and experiment.
The variety of ways to take out targets is truly mind-boggling in all but one of the maps. You can choose to sneak in with no items but your suit and your bare hands. You can make the kill look like a freak accident. You can dress up in every disguise you find and fool everyone around you. You can even go in guns blazing if you really want to, although that does reduce the gameplay to a simplistic third-person shooter. This variety is what makes the series so fun to play, as each map allows for pretty much every approach.
Although the actual kills are fantastic, my favorite part of the Hitman experience is when everything goes wrong and you have to improvise. The best example I have from my playtime is when I threw a frying pan at the wall but was spotted doing so, leading to me throwing every non-lethal melee weapon I had at the four goons in the room. It’s the moments that have you asking “how did that just work?” that really make Hitman special, making it the perfect water-cooler game. Everyone will have their own story to tell.
The biggest addition to the formula here is the camera, although to be honest, it’s a bit of a disappointment. It becomes a new set feature in 47’s inventory, so you always have access to it in every level, but its actual uses seem limited. You can only use it contextually to interact with some objects in the environments, such as opening a few doors or closing some windows. Think of it as a very basic Watch Dogs-esque tool. It’s at its best in the opening mission, Dubai, but from then on I only used it a few more times. would have preferred if they’d have gone with a more tongue-in-cheek selfie-taking camera that players could mess around with a bit more, especially considering it’s the only real new feature.
In-fact, the lack of anything new to the formula is perhaps the only genuine criticism I could level against Hitman 3. Whereas Hitman 2 evolved certain elements and added the much-loved briefcase, Hitman 3 only really adds the camera and that’s about it. That’s not strictly a bad thing when you see what IO has done with some of the levels, but if you’ve played a lot of the previous games you might have a bit of fatigue.
The real excitement of a new Hitman game comes from the new locations and there’s a lot to be excited about here. Things start off well with the traditional Dubai level, which impresses with its height and size. Dartmoor has been well-advertised as containing a murder mystery inside it, although I personally got a lot more joy out of a suit-only run. Then we have Berlin’s fantastic rave level that has you up against 11 different ICA agents that are all disguised, and Chongqing’s rainy secret laboratory is reminiscent of Sapienza in all the right ways. The second to last level, Argentina, is set in a vineyard, which is a real treat for Blood Money fans and is fantastic to explore.
The final level of the game is one I won’t spoil here, but it’s sure to be divisive for the fanbase. I don’t know if I’d call it the strongest level-set in the trilogy, but the levels that impress here really do leave a mark, and I applaud IO for the massive variety. Each of these maps is absolutely gorgeous too. Chongqing, in particular, had me in awe throughout the whole level. All of the games have been lookers in the location department, but the final game in the trilogy is arguably the most impressive.
What I found truly impressive about Hitman 3 however, is how IO Interactive has experimented with the formula through each map. Whereas other games had pretty much all six of their maps being a straight-forward assassination with little deviation from the formula, I’d argue that only half of the maps in Hitman 3 are straightforward. The other three mix things up in some pretty unique ways, such as the murder mystery or targets you discover as you play.
That’s not even mentioning that Hitman 3 can act as a base for all of the other locations in the trilogy as well. Being able to access levels from the first and second game is a real bonus for the fans, and something I’d urge new players to do as well. In doing so you have over 20 levels of Hitman glory to get through, in what is easily one of gaming’s most solid trilogies in some time. At the end of the day, Hitman 3 is more of the same, but what it is is utterly fantastic.
Besides a lack of new features and some fatigue coming from three very similar games, the World of Assassination trilogy has been one of the most satisfying sets of games from the last generation. Hitman 3 is the result of that buildup and an absolutely fantastic conclusion to the series. It’s a shame that we won’t be seeing more of Agent 47 for some time after this, but after this stellar finale, he’s definitely earned some time off.
TechRaptor reviewed Hitman 3 on PlayStation 5 with a copy provided by the publisher. It is also available on PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PC, and Nintendo Switch.