GameByte Review: Hitman 3 (PS5)

The latest stealth adventure from IO Interactive is a suitable swan song to conclude the beloved Hitman trilogy. After spending half a decade perfecting the compelling and downright cheesy formula, Agent 47 is back for one last bittersweet hurrah. But has this latest instalment in the cult class series lived up to the hype?

Narrative

Hitman 3 is one of the daftest games I’ve ever played. I mean that with the utmost love and respect for the franchise. The level of freedom and creativity is the same as what players came to love in Hitman and Hitman 2. Plus certain plot points offer much-needed insight into the dark underbelly of ‘The World of Assassination’.

Mission 2, set in a Gothic mansion in rural Dartmoor, includes a murder mystery Rian Johnson would be proud of. I won’t spoil the story for you, but it’s packed with delightfully witty dialogue and all the dramatic nuance of 80’s detective capers. 

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Despite the story not being central to the Hitman experience it provides a nice extra dimension. One with exciting twists and intrigue. For those that loved the self-contained Mission Stories in the previous games, they still offer the challenge of coming up with creative solutions to problems.

Hitman 3
Credit: IO Interactive

Graphics/Style

I played Hitman 3 on the next-gen PS5 and I have to say, first of all, it looks fantastic. The Glacier 2 engine, IO Interactive’s internal game engine, has always made environments pop. Hitman 3 benefits from the upgrades expected of a next-gen release. Ray-tracing especially makes levels like Berlin, which is set at night, look particularly stunning. 

The opening scene, which shows Agent 47 skydiving through Dubai’s sunny skies before landing on top of the world’s tallest building, genuinely made my stomach lurch. This scene is more than the impressive graphics though, and it highlights one of the best improvements Hitman 3 has made to the series.

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Credit: iO Interactive

Gameplay

One of the biggest changes that Hitman 3 makes to the franchise is the addition of dynamic infiltrations. Previously, Agent 47 would just spawn into his Mission’s location and he could go about his merry business. Now, engaging cutscenes follow him breaking into the buildings. These give players more of an insight into how the Mission impacts the narrative. This makes the missions feel more immersive and fixes one of the biggest problems I had with the series so far. 

Immersion is clearly the key focus of IO Interactive’s latest adventure. To simultaneously maintain the tone of the cult classic’s that came before it and keep the game feeling fresh is an impressive feat, but Hitman 3 manages it. New gameplay mechanics, such as a camera to take note of your surroundings, only help to further enhance this feeling of immersion. Hitman 3 feels less like a blood-filled, murderous sandbox, and more like a gritty, slapstick drama.

That’s not to say, of course, that the Agent of Chaos has hung up his boots for this game. The thing I love most about Hitman is the moment my intricate plan falls flat on its face, and I end up dressed up as a giant flamingo, unceremoniously cramming a body into a dumpster, whilst innocent bystanders are brutally slaughtered for the crime of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. 

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There are plenty of moments like that in the game. Each level has approximately 40 challenges, which means you can pick and choose what you fancy doing. This means that, in typical Hitman style, each Mission has tons of replay value and secrets to uncover. Whilst it’s true that some of the narrative missions can feel overly linear at times, this satisfying addition more than makes up for when the pace drags.

China in Hitman 3
Credit: iO Interactive

Accessibility

Hitman 3 is sadly lacking in accessibility options. It offers subtitles for those who prefer them, which includes various sizes, but there are next to no options available in the settings. For a game that uses a lot of red, it would have been nice to see a colour-blind mode.

Is It Worth Your Money?

Hitman 3 feels like a love letter to the ‘World of Assassination’ and I can’t think of a better way to conclude the series. With its delightfully witty dialogue and the fact that all existing Hitman content (as long as you’ve bought Hitman and Hitman 2) has progression carry over into Hitman 3, this game is a joy to play and the best Hitman has ever been. It takes all the best parts of the series we’ve come to love and leaves us with a bittersweet, Agent 47-sized gap in our hearts.

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Reviewed on PS5 with code provided by the publisher.

Featured image credit: IO Interactive

Second Opinion

By Brett Claxton (PS5)

Hitman 3 is a game, much like its predecessors, all about being the best assassin in the world. Much like it’s predecessors too it’s a game that encourages fast thinking. Especially when things spiral out of control far too quickly.

In one mission I ended up with so many people stuffed into a cupboard that I then had to find another place to hide the latest person I had knocked out. It was panic solved with an almost slapstick style solution.

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That is the thing with Hitman. It’s a very serious game in theory but it allows you to do so much that chaos can occur in so many different ways. The more you explore the more opportunities for ridiculousness present themselves. In fact, exploration means more in Hitman 3 than it has before thanks to persistent shortcuts.

Similar to what you see in soulslikes the game has various routes that, once unlocked, will remain unlocked. Meaning that a tactic that might not have worked in your initial run will work perfectly the second time. It’s a great way to encourage level replayability, as are the mission stories. The mission stories are some of the best there has ever been in the series and, with there being multiple to follow per level, you’re encouraged to replay even more.

The game’s visuals look really nice on the PS5. They’re not the best the console has to offer but there’s no denying the beauty of the design in the game. I had a few comical moments with the AI in the game and awkward animations, plus the usual annoyance of slow walking people you have to follow, but never enough that it ruined my experience.

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Hitman 3 feels like the perfect way to conclude this chapter of the franchise. If you’re a fan of Hitman, or just love the idea of a stealth game which gives you freedom in how you do your tasks, then Hitman 3 is definitely something you should look to pick up.

9/10