We got our greasy mitts onto Hitman 3, courtesy of IO Interactive, and had a delicious play with the game through its first few levels.
Hitman 3 is the stealth-action conclusion to the ‘World of Assassination’ trilogy developed and published by IO Interactive where you take on the role of Agent 47, a genetically-engineered super-killer.
In the seven games since 2000 that have taken us to this point, you’ve travelled the world multiple times, murdered your quasi-father, become a Sicilian monk, and hopped in and out of the International Contract Agency about 17 times. The ICA is exactly as vague as it needs to be in a game about the supposed darkness that lives underneath ‘normal’ society.
What we will do is tell you about the gameplay, which is what you’re doubtless here for. Attacking Hitman 3 is a lesson in creativity, as anyone who’s touched the games in this series will know. IO Interactive give you all the ingredients of a good time and then say “here, you put this together”. It’s the gaming equivalent of an escape room.
Every level you play (and there’s only six) has dozens, if not hundreds, of unique ways to complete them. A solid portion of the joy comes from forcing yourself back into the fray time and time again because of slight missteps you make.
It’s possible, for example, to crush your opponents with chandeliers that you cut loose from the ceiling, but there’s only so many ways to make them stand in the perfect spot to get flattened. This is where you need your brain; you’ll find yourself meticulously planning your murders, where the rush of getting it exactly right is second to none.
The Hitman franchise has always played with you as much as you play with it. There’s nothing stopping you from going on a murdering spree, but it will not be as fun as the developers intended it to be. Weirdly, in a game about being a hitman for hire, IO will judge you for murdering excessively. The internal moral code is strong in this game – you kill, but you must do it right.
So far, this is much of the same that we’ve come to expect from previous Hitman titles. So what makes Hitman 3 stand out?
This game looks stunning, and runs as smoothly as Agent 47’s head. Running it at max settings pushed my begrudging computer to its limit, but was well worth it.
A new gameplay-focused feature, Shortcuts encourage exploration, reward curiosity, and give you yet another reason to play again. Taking a leaf from a certain someone’s book, certain doors, access points, ladders, and lifts can only be unlocked from one direction. Once unlocked, they permanently open up powerful shortcuts for future playthroughs.
It’s a killer addition. In previous Hitman titles, starting fresh with every mission could make time spent in that adventure feel wasted. Now that there is concrete reward for your actions, hello dopamine!
Bringing a new default item into every mission, the camera is used to remotely access locked doors or as an investigative tool to discover intel (a sentence I wrote as I realised I’d deeply under-utilised this feature in my playthrough). Alternatively, you can just try and capture some of the incredible sights and ridiculous moments.
Hitman 3 will give you feedback. Each time you finish a mission, you will be given a Playstyle based on how you approached it. Gun everyone down and you’ll be given Mass Murderer, and as few points as possible. The in-game system looks at all of your actions and spits out a unique identifier for you to improve upon (or bask in the glory of).
As a small taste, these Playstyles run from Silent Assassin to Trapsmith, Grim Reaper, and beyond.
A brand new progression system has also been purpose built to allow players a clear path to their next unlock, ranging from crazy cosmetics to new starting weapons and equipment. Previously you could only get rewards from specific missions – now there’s a general approach to progress.
It must be said; this game is great and you’ll enjoy your time in Agent 47’s shoes a whole heap. With that on the table, there are some glaring points within Hitman 3 that would be unfair to not discuss.
First, and rather glaringly, Hitman 3 lacks the humour from previous games. In the first two offerings there were seriously dark jokes and moments that helped humanise 47. In this offering he talks more, but says less. Admittedly this trade-off has served for a more intricate story, which is far fuller in this game. I still want those dark chuckles though.
Secondly, the AI leaves you wanting. After popping someone in the head, despite the target being in the middle of a room, no one searches for the gunfire. Instead, characters accept the death and move on with their lives, sometimes instantly. This was the one facet of Hitman 3 I found pulling me out of the incredibly deep world IO interactive had otherwise built for me.
Hitman 3 is out now on PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X, Xbox One, and PC. Find out more here.