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Fri, 22nd Jan 2021
FYI, this story is more than a year old

IO Interactive's seminal assassination game completes its rebooted World of Assassination trilogy with Hitman 3.

The twenty-year-old Hitman series follows the bald-headed assassin, Agent 47, as he improvises and infiltrates detailed locations to get to his targets. Hitman 3 concludes the clandestine story that we have been following since the 2017 rebooted Hitman.

The premise is simple, but the execution is not so easy. Agent 47 must assassinate his target(s) by making his way from the starting destination to his prey. Before each mission, players get to choose from the available start locations, disguises, and equipment. On the first playthrough this is limited, but successful completion unlocks more options. The objective is to go in, dispatch the target and get out without being detected. Stealth is key, but less subtle means can be employed.

Whilst Agent 47 has all the tools you'd expect of an action game, Hitman 3 is really a puzzle game. Players need to explore the environments to work out the best approach. The movements of both the targets and other characters need to be noted and accommodated to avoid detection.

Once detected, the situation can escalate very quickly, a firefight rarely producing a successful outcome. Should you be spotted carrying out an action that you shouldn't be doing, keeping a calm head and a bit of luck can result in the situation being salvaged.

Players control Agent 47 in third-person view as he explores the huge sandbox levels. All around him non-player characters go about their business across sprawling levels These are living environments, packed full of detail, often with hundreds of characters. These give the game a very organic feel that encourages improvisation.

Many areas are out-of-bounds and can only be entered without alerting suspicion by donning a disguise. Whilst there are changes of clothes to be found in some areas, the most common way to gain a disguise is by knocking out an unsuspecting person and taking their clothes.

If you knock the NPC out and leave them to be discovered, your disguise will be compromised as they relay your description to their rescuer. Similarly, if you are caught assaulting someone alerts will be raised.

The best way to obtain a disguise is to catch, or lure (using a coin) your victim to a secluded place and knock them out. You can then steal their clothes and dump the body in one of the cupboards, wardrobes, or dumpsters that can be found all over the place. You do have the opportunity to snap the neck of your innocent victims (or shoot them with your silenced pistol), but this will count against you in the final scoring.

Some characters will see through your disguise if you are spotted. Agent 47 needs to blend in or risk being discovered by these keen-eyed characters.

In addition to any weapons that Agent 47 starts with, other items can be found in the environment that can be picked up and used, lethal and non-lethal. Some items can be used to cause distractions and eliminate targets in unique and interesting ways.

Whilst the game is open-world and players are free to do what they want; some structured events can be triggered by overhearing conversations. These tasks offer additional points and provide new players with a bit of guidance. As cliched as it sounds, no two plays are the same.

The new game features six locations tied together via a campaign story that wouldn't look out of place in a Jason Bourne/James Bond movie. The previous chapters have had Agent 47 and his hander Diane Burnwood caught up in a power struggle within their organisation, the ICA. For this final chapter, the stakes are higher as Agent 47 gets deeper into the clandestine and sets out to bring the ICA to its knees.

As with previous games, Agent 47's adventures take players around the globe. The game starts with a parachute jump onto the rooftop of an opulent Dubai high-rise; then it's on to a manor house in England for a murder-mystery. Players become the hunted in a Berlin nightclub club before moving on to China- into the heart of the conspiracy. The otherwise pleasant surrounds of an Argentinian winery serve to finalised the adventure, which is capped off by one last, ad hoc mission in Romania.

Hitman 3 continues with gameplay that's is high-on identical to its predecessors. This time though, I found the levels to be just that much more well thought out. Previously I'd found myself scratching my head as to what I needed to do next, Hitman 3 seems to offer up a lot more ways to play than before.

Whilst each location in Hitman 3 will take around an hour to complete without any finesse, this is just the start. There are thousands of ways to complete the missions. And it's a game that wants you to replay the missions.

At the end of each mission, XP is awarded for the method(s) used, with a penalty for killing non-targets. Successfully completing a mission unlocks new starting locations, disguises, and equipment for replays. There's more than enough reason to try missions again with different load-outs to see if you can achieve that perfect assassination.

For this third outing, the visuals have been polished up once again. Owners of the previous games being able to replay the campaigns and additional modes of both Hitmanand Hitman 2 with these new graphical flourishes.

Whilst this is all very well on console, PC players are likely to have played the other chapters via Steam. This is a problem, as the new game is an Epic Games exclusive, thus possibly requiring fans to repurchase the other games for the full trilogy.

Hitman 3 requires an internet connection. The game can be played offline, but without counting your progress in the game. I'd not have any problem with this accept that the connection didn't seem very stable during my playthrough, resulting in some halts whilst in reconnected. I hope they sort this out as, like with its predecessors, the developers are likely to be adding lots of content via time-limited challenges post-launch.

As well as attempting the campaign missions again, players can also try contracts. These are missions build around the location in the campaign, but with alternative targets and mission requirements. There are hundreds of missions to choose from and players can even make and publish their own.

Hitman 3 is a splendid conclusion to this trilogy of games. The uncompromising stealth gameplay is perfectly complemented by the intricately detailed open-world environments. The player is afforded all the tools for a unique playthrough every time. With hundreds of options open to players to complete the missions and massive replay value, Hitman 3 delivers a nigh-on perfect stealth gaming experience.

Verdict: 9/10