Hitman 3 has been out for about two years now. Following up on the first two games, it concludes the reimagined Hitman trilogy. For the past years there’s been tons of content added and it recently released Hitman: Freelancer. The entire trilogy is now re-titled as Hitman: World of Assassination. Read on for our thoughts about the game in our Hitman 3 review.
For those of you unfamiliar with the earlier Hitman games, in 2016 IO Interactive launched Hitman. It was a reboot of the series, keeping the core gameplay of earlier games intact while still offering something fresh. This also applied to its business model, but more on that later. Up until now, three games have been released. If you buy Hitman 3, Hitman and Hitman 2 are included. But that’s not all, every few months each game has received add-on content expanding the games even more. The end result is a massive game.
Introducing Agent 47
The game is about the titular Hitman, someone called Agent 47. He arrives at the ICA. An organization handling all kinds of contracts including assassination. Nothing is known about his past but in training he proves to be exceptional. Together with his handler, Diana, Agent 47 travels around the world on all sorts of contracts. The story is told through a combination of cutscenes and in-game chatter.
There’s a campaign spanning 6 missions per game. While at first they seem like stand alone missions, during the course of the game a connection is shown. A conspiracy quickly unravels and it’s up to Agent 47 to not only eliminate his targets but also dismantle the conspiracy. The story has a proper feeling of a spy thriller, which is exactly the atmosphere it should be setting. It’s expertly handled both through writing and the gameplay enhancing that feeling.
Play it your way
In the campaign, you basically visit a location and explore it for opportunities to achieve your objective. For example Dubai or Berlin. Each mission is a big sandbox map. You get your objective at the start of the mission, which is often to assassinate one or more targets. After that, it’s up to you. There are dozens of ways to kill your target, depending on their current location, the items you carry with you or the opportunities for infiltration you discover along the map. And there are very creative ways to kill your targets. For example, have them use an exploding golf ball, drop a crane on them, push them from a ledge or simply shoot them.
In Hitman 3, the maps are bigger than ever and it’s a treat exploring them. There’s so much happening on a map at any given time, with hundreds of NPC’s having their own agenda. Part of the game is just walking around, observing NPC’s and discovering something new. Sometimes you’ll even discover a clue or infiltration opportunity just by watching random NPC’s. Hitman 3 has some of the best level design I’ve seen in a video game. Apart from the NPC’s, there’s also a lot of attention to detail to ensure the locations truly feel realistic.
Keep trying for perfection
Across the three games, you’ll have 20 maps to play around with. In my opinion, that already offers quite some variation. But in case you’re wondering if that’s not enough for you, there’s still no need to worry. A huge part of the latest Hitman games is replayability. In fact, your first playthrough will probably be messy and far from a perfect execution. However, every map has a mastery level. The more you increase your mastery level for a map, the more starting locations or weapons you’ll have available which will increase your options for certain challenges. And you’ll be happy to unlock them.
These challenges are the bread and butter of the game. Every mission offers dozens of challenges you can complete. There are assassination challenges for eliminating a target in a certain way. This can be pretty generic, for example by shooting them in the head. Or by using a very specific item or disguise at a very specific time. The former doesn’t require a lot of planning but the later requires extreme planning and knowing your target’s routine. And then there’s a lot of challenges related to finding objects or locations on the map. Suffice to say, to maximize your mastery on a map you’ll spend dozens of replays. The question with replayability often is whether it remains fun after your tenth try. But due to the incredibly rich and detailed maps, it remains fun to keep exploring new options. However the most difficult challenges can be a little frustrating because timing is so narrow sometimes, it’ll take a lot of retries.
Catering to every play style
If all of this seems a little too hard for you, worry not. Every map has mission stories. These are basically a few set ways to complete your objective while telling a certain story. They’ll give you way points to guide you towards infiltration opportunities in order to complete one of the challenges. They’re basically like quests in many other games. While they eliminate the challenge in most cases, for anyone looking for an easier experience it’s a great tool to enjoy the game anyway.
Now Agent 47 always heads out in a tuxedo. However, as you can imagine tuxedo’s may make you stand out at times. Therefore, using disguises is a big part of the gameplay. On specific places on the map, you can find various disguises. Disguising as a mechanic, may give you access to a maintenance area without suspicion for example. If you can’t find any disguises, fret not. You can knock out any NPC and regarding most of them you can take over their disguises. This even applies to some unique NPC’s, which open up specific assassination opportunities. Be careful however, some NPC’s know their colleagues very well and will see through your disguise.
Play like a spy
The main idea of Hitman 3 is to go through the game as stealthy as possible. Combat is an option but you’re not a superhero. You’ll be swarmed and die quickly. But, as I said earlier, you can complete your objectives any way you see fit. If you’re masochistic, you can take a machine gun and go in guns blazing. Just don’t expect it to go very well. Additionally, killing innocent civilians gets you a penalty, so stealth really is the way to go.
The advantage of playing a game which has been out for a while, is always the additional content and patches. After years of extra content, there’s so much extra stuff to do in the game, you’ll be good for a while. There are a lot of different game modes and items which have been added. Bug fixes have been aplenty and this gives you a pretty solid experience. But recently, IO Interactive have gone the extra mile by adding a game mode which completely changes the game. Hitman: Freelancer.
Hitman: Freelancer changes the game into a roguelike experience. You’ll start in your safehouse. It is set after the events of the main games and sees you working with your handler as a freelancer to keep the criminal syndicates in check. It features maps from the original game, but they have been redesigned in order to fit the new game mode. As with any roguelike, you’ll start off simple and pick your missions from varying difficulties. The harder the mission, the bigger the rewards. The goal is to survive as many missions as you can to eventually beat the game. But as you continue, missions will get harder. Choosing the right rewards to increase your odds is key here.
The new game mode offers weapon rarity. The rarer the weapon, the better it is. You’ll get to choose a limited amount of items and weapons to take onto a map with you. Be careful though, if you lose, your items are gone. With money gained from the missions, you’ll be able to unlock more enhancements for your further missions. And the goals of each map and the maps you’ll be able to play are randomly generated each run. Hitman: Freelancer is a great addition for any roguelike fan and gives anyone a reason to return to Hitman 3.
Graphically these games are absolutely stunning. As I said earlier, the maps come to life by great level design however the game engine is able to render stunning locations. Some maps are pretty open spaces and they’ll offer you incredible vistas. Even seeing dozens or hundreds NPC’s on screen, the game has no issue rendering the crowd. This is an impressive feat that not every AAA game can boast about. The soundtrack is a little lacking at times though, however I do understand you may not always want a great soundtrack. Sound cues are important for the stealth element of the game.
Hitman 3, or Hitman World of Assassination as it is now called, offers a truly definitive edition with all its added content. What was already a solid game due to its replayability has become a must play for anyone enjoying stealth games. There is so much to do that you can spend hundreds of hours into the game. On release the games individually may have been pricey, but at the moment you can’t go wrong because you’ll get the full package. We just can’t wait to see IO Interactive have their crack at a James Bond game, because Hitman 3 has all these ingredients. That was it for our Hitman 3 review. Stay tuned for more reviews.
- Absolutely stunning maps with tons to discover
- Extremely high replayability
- Freedom in terms of how you play
- So much content
- Some challenges can be frustrating