Some people dream about being an astronaut, while others might dream about being a doctor. For me, I dreamt about being James Bond; a smooth-talking, panty-dropping, international man of mystery and a master spy. While James Bond is certainly not a professional assassin, the parallels between him and Hitman series protagonist Agent 47 are certainly noticeable. However, where Agent 007 might have his license to kill, Agent 47 has a license to thrill, as Hitman 3 acts as the definitive culmination of the recent trilogy that started back in 2016. Let’s take a look at how IO Interactive sends off their titular hitman to die another day.
This latest entry takes places over 6 unique and incredibly detailed maps, each one packed to the brim. Even the smallest map, the Thornbridge Manor located in the United Kingdom, is comically huge in scale. With well over a dozen rooms to explore in the mansion, a huge garden, and even a cemetery, the amount of environmental storytelling is unrivaled by any other entry in the Hitman series. The ways in which a player can eliminate their target(s) is limited only by one’s own creativity. Thankfully, IO Interactive begins each mission with a sort of breadcrumb of information.
Each of the 6 missions has pre-scripted assassination plans, in which the game vaguely informs a player of where they need to be, or how they need to execute a plan, but it’s up to the player to make it happen. Sticking with the Thornbridge Manor, one of the canned mission objectives is to get your target to the family burial plot so you can kill and bury her on the spot. By choosing to attempt this mission, players will start off in a certain location, and with some scouting, imagination, and ingenuity, one might find themselves disguised as a pallbearer with a shovel minding his own business until a certain security guard takes a sip of poisoned coffee, runs off to the bushes to vomit his guts up, leaving your target exposed and unguarded just long enough to take said shovel to the back of her cranium before falling into her grave and buried.
The default mission for the Thornbridge Manor requires a special kind of shout-out. This level begins with a genuine “who done it” murder mystery that tasks players with solving the crime before committing their own. You’ll need to question subjects, search the manor for clues, and rule out subjects as alibis are confirmed, and it is in my opinion, one of the shining stars of the entire game. It’s such a unique and wonderfully crafted deviation from the rest of the game that it remains the highlight long after I’ve rolled credits. Some of the other mission locales include a skyscraper in Dubai, an undisclosed private club in Berlin, a sprawling wine factory in Mendoza, Argentina, and a grand finale that takes place inside and on top of a speeding train through the Carpathian Mountains. Each of these locations comes with there own unique blend of creative and rewarding assassination techniques that all feel rewarding and exhilarating when pulled off without setting off any alarms.
For players who want more, IO Interactive has provided a couple of options for those who are looking to extend their time in Agent 47’s shoes. The first, and most interesting is the fact that owners of Hitman (2016) and/or Hitman 2 (2018) can import the levels from those games and launch them directly from Hitman 3, acting as a pseudo-game launcher. The benefit being that those older levels will be polished up, and with the different gameplay enhancements made since their release, players will be able to experience what is effectively a definitive version of those earlier levels. It also serves to unify the experience for those who, like myself, want to experience the story in one, easy to navigate menu of episodic content. I think this is a great addition and it has definitely worked as a Trojan horse to convince to purchase the previous 2 games just so I have access to the entire collection.
The other addition to Hitman 3 comes in the form of community contracts, elusive targets, escalations, and Sniper-only missions. The most impressive of these additions is in the contracts mode. IO Interactive is giving players the ability to drop into any map and create their own scenarios, including target, required outfit, and/or required assassination method. Players can then publish these contracts for others in the community to compete in for the top spot on the leaderboards. The best contracts will then be highlighted on the Hitman 3 homepage by IOI. This is a fantastic addition and gives the most creative Hitman players a way to really test their skills and creativity and share their creations with the community.
When IO Interactive broke up with Square Enix in 2018, there was a question as to who would retain the rights to the franchise. Thank goodness those rights stayed with IO Interactive because this studio has been crafting hit after hit after hit since 2000. Hitman 3, while more of the same, continues their trend of killer gameplay in wonderfully detailed “open-world” sandbox environments that beg to be explored by eagle-eyed and patient players. Death by poison, rake, kitchen knife, crowbar, electric shock, and a freaking unicorn horn barely scratch the surface of all the ways that players of any skill level can succeed in eliminating their targets in Hitman 3. In the world of Hitman, everything is a weapon, if only you take the time to figure out how best to use it. From Dubai to Berlin, IO Interactive has managed to give their bald-headed, barcode-tatted protagonist a new and interesting world of danger to roam around and to get creative in. After replaying every stage a half a dozen times or so, I’m happy to report that Hitman 3 executes in its objective of being a thrilling assassination game.