It’s almost hard to believe that it’s only been four years since the first Hitman in this new trilogy graced us. A wonderful return to form after the (incredibly) questionable Hitman: Absolution, Hitman (2016) and Hitman 2 saw IO Interactive taking the series to its absolute peak, crafting the absolute best versions of what people expect out of this series. With Hitman 3, IO Interactive are looking to put a cap on what’s been a remarkable trilogy.
Developer: IO Interactive
Platform: PC, PS4/5, Xbox One/XSX
MonsterVine was supplied with a PC code for review
Picking up right where Hitman 2 left off, Hitman 3 sees 47 seeking the heads of the organization he’s spent the last few games taking down. The plot, while still taking a backseat to the action, is probably at the trilogy’s best, with some really great in-mission dialogs between 47 and others. The series’ trademark sense of humor is also on full display with some really humorous moments peppered throughout the game; even if things around 47 are dire, the game is still able to have some fun with welcomed doses of levity.
Hitman 3 is undoubtedly somber in tone. Being the final game in the “World of Assassination” trilogy, IO is opting to go out with less of a bang and more of a delicate quiet. This is made evident in the locations which are markedly less dramatic than they were in Hitman 2; cult filled castles and beach resorts are substituted with more unglamorous locations like a countryside manor. Now that’s not to say the series’ penchant for theatrics is gone completely, as the game opens in a grandiose Dubai skyscraper, but the locations definitely set up a more subdued farewell to the trilogy than your usual explosive filled finale.
Hitman is the textbook definition of a series where “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” rings true. You’re still dropping into an exotic location, given a quick brief on who to kill, and then set loose to figure out how exactly you’re going to pull it off. As always, the game is more a puzzle to solve than an action scene to shoot through, as you poke at various parts of a map, seeing how far the game will let you go before it pushes back requiring you to discover another path forward. A welcomed improvement to the formula is a slight change to the game’s “guided” assassinations: straightforward objectives with markers that point you in the exact direction to complete a flamboyant kill on a target. This time around, many of the guides are a bit less direct, opting for a vaguer objective requiring you to explore a bit instead of being spoon-fed the solution. One of these in particular has you solving a Knives Out style “whodunit” that even allows you to frame innocent suspects. The series is at its best when it encourages players to explore and that mentality is on full display in Hitman 3.
Back again are the game’s excellent Escalation missions, where you’ll hunt new targets in the same maps in increasingly difficult missions. These, along with the timed special targets, are some of my favorite additions to the series although they, admittedly, can at times hurt the level design as you can sometimes come across a potentially interesting tool for death, only to realize it’s likely meant for an Escalation target and not the story mode one. It’s a minor nitpick however in the grand scheme of things. A surprising exclusion from the game is the two multiplayer modes introduced in Hitman 2. Gone is the 1v1 Ghost Mode that saw two players competing for more elaborate kills, and while the Sniper Assassin mode is still here, it’s simply single-player now. While not a huge loss, I did have *some* bit of fun with them back with Hitman 2 so it’s a bummer to see them nixed entirely instead of having their potential fully realized. The only major gripe here is the fact that Sniper Assassin is still just the same three levels as before. This makes it clear that it’s only here as a holdout from Hitman 2, it’s a bummer regardless that IO didn’t bother to at least create one new map for the mode.
The Final Word
Hitman 3 is a phenomenal closer to what has been an excellent trilogy in a series I hold dear. Even though it saddens me to see IO Interactive hang up the silverballers (for now), they truly did bring this series to its absolute zenith.
– MonsterVine Rating: 5 out of 5 – Excellent