Hitman 3 Review
The trilogy is finally complete.
The Hitman World of Assassination trilogy has had a rocky rollout, to say the least. The series has swapped publishers with every entry, and each game has experimented with different release schedules, pricing strategies, DLC plans, and additional game modes. It just felt like every recent Hitman game was surrounded by some sort of behind the scenes drama, which is a shame considering the quality of the previous two releases. Now that the dust has settled and the entire trilogy is out, it’s much easier to admire Hitman for what it is. Hitman 3 marks the end of the World of Assassination trilogy, and now that the entire trilogy is complete, it’s not just the best game in the series, but one of the best stealth games ever made.
That’s a lofty claim, but Hitman 3 is deserving of the title. In order to better explain myself, however, I need to talk about Hitman 3’s overall place in the trilogy. While this is a review of Hitman 3, it’s also a review of the World of Assassination trilogy as a whole. The entire trilogy can be played within Hitman 3, complete with all of the enhancements that come with it. Everything is arranged in a nice and neat timeline layout on the main menu, and progression and unlocks carry over and can be used in any location from any of the three games. Hitman 3 is a remarkable game on its own, but when treated as the final piece of the puzzle that is the World of Assassination trilogy, it’s just one third of an excellent package.
Before discussing the overall package further, we should take a look at Hitman 3 itself first. There are six new levels, five of which are massive fully-featured destinations packed with secrets to uncover. The sixth and final level is disappointingly linear, but it’s still enjoyable. You may get worried when you hear the game only has six levels, but Hitman 3’s level list is deceptively small. Each location is begging to be explored and replayed more so than any other missions in any other game. Each level is a sandbox that you won’t see the bottom of for roughly ten hours or so. Every action has a reaction. No matter where you decide to throw a wrench into things, the game will react accordingly.
Hitman 3 is a triumph of level design. To play a level only once is to do the game (and yourself) a huge disservice. The true genius of Hitman only shows when you attempt the nearly endless list of optional challenges. You may want to stick to one favorite strategy, but Hitman thrives when it pulls you out of your comfort zone. The optional challenges should not be likened to a checklist of achievements, but rather to side quests in an RPG. If you ignore them in an attempt to reach the credits as quickly as you can, you’ll miss out on some of the most engaging content the game has to offer.
If you’re just looking for a game to blast through in a few hours, then your time will be better spent elsewhere. Hitman rewards those who invest time in it, and you get out what you put in. Thankfully, the game’s many challenges guide you toward interesting content and situations so you’re not just aimlessly wandering around the same levels waiting for something cool to happen. Escalation challenges make you play by stricter rules, forcing you to get creative as the difficulty ramps up from challenge to challenge. Series mainstay challenges like Sniper Assassin and Suit Only demand a different approach and, in turn, show you sides of a level’s dynamic sandbox that you never would have seen otherwise. Throughout several runs of a level, you become intimately familiar with its layout and characters, gaining a better understanding of how the cogs of the tightly-designed machine operate.
While the previous two Hitman games had some levels that were pretty hit or miss, Hitman 3 is comprised of back to back highlights. The opening level set in a towering skyscraper in Dubai brings unprecedented verticality to the series, containing a packed party on the starting floor and a heavily guarded penthouse above, and things never slow down from there. Because the story ramps up so heavily in the third game, Hitman 3’s missions are more than straightforward hits, and objectives are more varied than ever before. From solving a murder mystery in an English home in the countryside to surviving a deadly game of cat and mouse in Berlin, there’s no shortage of variety. Each location is a visual spectacle as well, especially the neon-drenched alleyways of Chongqing. This is easily the greatest set of levels to ever grace the series.
The story has never been the focus of the Hitman series, but Hitman 3 tells an okay tale that has some satisfying payoffs for those who have actually been following the World of Assassination plotline. The still image cutscenes from Hitman 2 are gone, and there is a much greater emphasis on Agent 47 and the supporting cast this time around. Some missions have special introductory sequences that serve as setpiece moments, but they can be skipped by choosing an alternate starting location upon repeat playthroughs. Story beats are no longer contained to cutscenes in between missions, and everything feels a bit less disjointed as a result. The story won’t blow you away, but it does a nice job of wrapping up the trilogy and adds a sense of urgency and coherence to what would otherwise be a series of unconnected hits.
The only real drawback of Hitman 3 is also its greatest strength: it’s just more Hitman. IO Interactive created a very strong foundation with the 2016 reboot, and Hitman 3 is essentially just a new pack of levels for the same game with some minor upgrades. If you didn’t like the first two games, then Hitman 3 won’t do anything to draw you in. If you liked the first two games, however, then there’s much more content ready for you to dive into. Still, even if you bounced off the first two games for whatever reason, now is the best time to give the series another shot because you can play all of the old levels within Hitman 3 and it’s much easier to get drawn into the narrative and the game’s shadowy underworld now that the entire trilogy’s story can be played continuously. This is definitely a series that takes a while to click for someone who’s not used to replaying levels and chasing perfect rankings, but once everything falls into place, it’s a hard game to put down.
If you’re already a fan of the franchise, then there is a ridiculous amount of content here. With roughly 20 levels in the entire trilogy, you could easily spend over a hundred hours learning the ins and outs of every location. Even if you’re new to the series and are just starting out with Hitman 3, there’s more than enough content in this game to keep you busy for a while, and the first two games are regularly offered at steep discounts if you’re looking to expand your level library. Hitman 3 is already a deep game on its own, but when you factor in the first two games and the addition of VR support on PlayStation consoles, the amount of content is staggering.
Hitman 3 is the ultimate murder simulator. Now that the World of Assassination trilogy is finally complete, there’s no excuse to not play Hitman. In order to truly appreciate the game’s intricacies, you have to commit to replaying levels, attempting challenges, and testing out new strategies. However, if you put in the time, you’ll be treated to one of the most engaging and rewarding stealth experiences in all of gaming.
- This article was updated on:January 19th, 2021
- Available On: PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, Nintendo Switch, Google Stadia
- Published By: IO Interactive
- Developed By: IO Interactive
- Genre: Stealth
- US Release Date: January 20, 2021
- Reviewed On: PC
- Quote: "Hitman 3 is the ultimate murder simulator. Now that the World of Assassination trilogy is finally complete, there's no excuse to not play Hitman. In order to truly appreciate the game's intricacies, you have to commit to replaying levels, attempting challenges, and testing out new strategies. However, if you put in the time, you'll be treated to one of the most engaging and rewarding stealth experiences in all of gaming."