Hitman 3 Review | Not Just Another Job

Hitman 3 Review

Before we here at Respawn Station start scratching our heads trying to decide what our Game of the Year is, it seems only fair that we play a few more games that we didn't get to during the early weeks and months of our inception. It is exactly with that intention that I set out to play Hitman 3 for the first time during my Thanksgiving break. I didn't plan to come back to the typewriter this week to bang out a review for the game, but in my roughly eight hours of playing through the Hitman 3 campaign, which I want to emphasize will only be the start of my time with the game and the series as a whole, I was blown away by the technical and thematic confidence with which IO Interactive executed this conclusion to the Agent 47 trilogy.

The last Hitman game I played was Hitman: Blood Money on the PlayStation 3. I remember having a lot of fun with it and being surprised at the amount of freedom that is offered in its small contained maps. That sense of freedom is still present in Hitman 3, the third game in the rebooted Agent 47 series which brings the storyline that started in 2016 to a close. Unlike the first game, which opted for an episodic approach to content rollout, the second and third games are one complete package that lets you play through the episodes at your own pace. Seeing as this was my first time diving into this trilogy, I went in knowing very little about its world and its characters. And, as Twitch chat often reminded me throughout my playthrough, playing through the previous two games would have made the emotion in Hitman 3 more resonant, however, I can attest to the fact that playing them is not necessary to enjoy the game and IO Interactive doesn't entirely rely on prior knowledge to push the narrative forward. As Agent 47 worked his way to one of the three different endings, I could not only understand his motivation for the whole journey but I also understand his choice for each of those endings as the right one for the character.

Hitman 3 has a simple gameplay loop but it's important to acknowledge the complex background work that makes it possible. You, as Agent 47, are dropped into the map with a few targets and several other optional objectives. It is then up to you to decide how you want to complete the mission. You can steal a new hire's transfer papers and pretend to be the target's security guard and wait for the right time to strike, you can drop some rat poison in a target's drink and wait for them to come and puke their guts out in the bathroom, or just shoot from a distance and make a run for it. Whatever your approach, it is incredibly satisfying to assess your options, formulate a plan, and see it all go right or wrong in execution. This gameplay loop is also what adds to Hitman's incredible replayability. If my own intentions to return to the game and try a different strategy for an assassination isn't enough, there were people in chat that had sunk 500+ hours into the World of Assassination since 2016. And with more DLC maps seemingly on the horizon for Hitman 3, that number is bound to go up even more.

The worst part visually about Hitman 3 is the cutscenes. Each mission is preceded by a compressed pre-rendered cutscene that then cuts away to gameplay that looks gorgeous. Rarely in a game am I so indifferent about the graphics during a cutscene only to be blown away by gameplay, but in Hitman 3 I would often stop and stare at the neon lights reflecting off of the puddles on the street or the painting like vistas that act as backdrops for your missions. I played the game on the PlayStation 5 and seeing raindrops rolling down Agent 47's coat and skyscrapers piercing the tops of clouds from a view to kill for made me realize just how much of a crime it is that Hitman 3 doesn't have a full-fledged photo mode. I mention replayability thanks to the gameplay, but I guarantee my playthrough of the game would be much longer if I could float a camera around and snap photos. 

I can't talk about Hitman 3 without talking about sound because therein lies one of the best and one of the weirdest aspects of the game. To start with the positive, Hitman 3 has great sound design that seamlessly gives you pertinent information about the mission and the target. It is backed by an epic score from Niels Bye Nielsen that is fit for a Hollywood blockbuster. It's clear that the music, and the game as a whole, takes notes from trending action movies with the opening mission and accompanying score feeling like an alternate cut of the famous halo jump sequence from Mission Impossible: Fallout, but it is executed with enough originality and to such a satisfying degree that it becomes more than just mimicry. Now to talk about the negative, the one glitch I ran into multiple times in Hitman 3 was where the score for the game would just abruptly end. This wouldn't have been as bad if the score wasn't good but considering how appropriate the music is to the task at hand, it often took me out of the experience while playing. 

In the end, Hitman 3 is a fantastic game that shows IO Interactive at its best with stunning visuals, great sound work, and highly replayable level design that encourages full exploitation of gameplay possibilities. But perhaps the most exciting thing about playing the game now is that it gives me the utmost confidence in the team to make an amazing 007 game. For a lack of better words (and because I want to say it), IOI understands how to make a badass agent, and if they can make Agent 47 an intriguing character with his limited use of dialogue then I am stoked to see how they bring James Bond to life. Hitman 3 is available now on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and PC via Steam and Epic Games Store. The Cloud Version of the game is also available on Nintendo Switch.

Hitman 3 | 9 | Excellent

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