Starting in 2016, IO Interactive set its sights on rebooting the Hitman franchise, and in 2021 we have now seen the conclusion of this rebooted trilogy. Hitman 3 is exactly that, the conclusion and culmination of what the IOI team has been working towards. 

Hitman 3 Review: Happy Hunting

I parachute into Dubai, scale the side of the enormous Sceptre skyscraper, and swiftly go inside through an open window. Pushing through the curtains I grab a fresh suit and am ready to kill. The stage is set, and Hitman 3 begins.

The previous entries’  systems and level design are present in Hitman 3 and further expanded upon in both intricacy and spectacle. The grandeur of the Dubai skyscraper and the Neon-lit nightclub of Berlin are just small examples of the sheer awe Hitman 3’s level design presents. 

The true intrigue comes in the small details. Every item on the map is placed meticulously and with purpose. Hidden passageways and vents all string together to provide players with the sense of being truly invisible.

Permanent shortcuts are the newest addition to Hitman 3’s level design. Locked doors and ladders are scattered across the map, but when unlocked, these shortcuts persist through every new run on the map. This grants players with more versatility in how they approach each subsequent retry on a map.

It’s a small touch, but it’s a natural stepping stone in the evolution of IO Interactive’s already stellar design philosophies.  

Throughout the destinations in Hitman 3, you’ll find mission objectives, which are guided sub-stories to help players get close to their targets and provide unique opportunities for assassination. These were introduced in the previous games, but the scenarios Agent 47 gets into are both comical and over-the-top in this game.  

Whether you’re disguised as a family photographer or a different hitman, all of the mission objectives are eccentric. They continue to provide some of the most interesting assassinations in the game.

There is still plenty of opportunities to make a misstep, though. I’ve killed a lot of people by throwing bananas or screwdrivers in a moment of panic.

Which is a huge part of what makes the Hitman series, and Hitman 3 in particular, a great sandbox. Make mistakes, learn from them, try to recover from a botched assassination. It’s always up to you on how you want to approach the situation and how your creativity builds from situation to situation.

Patiently stalk your prey and learn about their habits. A new opportunity will always present itself if you learn the signs.  

The standout level in Hitman 3 is the Dartmoor, England location. In which Agent 47 finds himself embroiled in a Knive’s Out style murder mystery. Trapesing around the mansion playing detective is a fresh change of pace and provides a new perspective. Instead of being the killer, you’re now on the other side of the fence.

I won’t spoil anything, but it’s a highlight of Hitman 3 and a shining example and IO Interactive’s confidence with the series.

More than ever, Hitman 3 puts its story out there. Each destination in the game is tied together with story beats much more present than in the previous two games. It’s less about globetrotting and eliminating targets and more focused on pushing the narrative forward.

It’s the end of a trilogy, and Hitman 3 sets the stage for wrapping up the story early on. However, I felt in particular the game gets 95% of the way there but stumbles at the end.

The game’s final mission, Carpathian Mountains, feels more like an epilogue than a final level. The level is exceptionally linear and feels more akin to something like the “Mile High Club” level from Call of Duty: Modern Warfare or the boat mission from Splinter Cell: Double Agent.

This would be ok if the previous level felt bombastic and powerful, but Mendoza builds towards something that ultimately feels a bit anti-climactic in the end. 

That’s not to say the other five levels aren’t fantastic because they are easily the best Hitman levels to date. Ultimately I was left wanting something a bit more from the final level. It just under-delivered mainly because it felt like the story was reaching a pivotal moment and then ended abruptly and without much fanfare.

Especially when compared to how impressive and powerful the final mission of Hitman 2 was. The Isla of Sgail castle level is the epitome of a final level in terms of scale and scope. 

Playing on the Xbox Series X I had zero technical issues and the game ran at a smooth 60 frames per second. The next-gen hardware really helps Hitman 3 shine, quite literally. The ray-traced reflections on buildings and puddles help further immerse players in the experience. 

This is extremely apparent on the Chongqing level, where the neon and rain-filled alleyways shine bright and reflect off of multiple surfaces. It helps add a layer of grime to some of the levels that exude an uneasy feeling.

On another technical note, the Quick Resume feature works great on the Series X. Starting up from a cold boot on the console had me back in the action quickly. It took longer to connect to the Hitman servers than it did to load into the level. 

All of this makes for a great playing experience on the Xbox Series X.

Hitman 3 cements itself as one of the best stealth-action games on the market. With lessons learned from the first two games and the ability to import all of those levels into 3, it’s hard-pressed to find a game with as much attention to detail and freedom as this one.

Pros

  • Stunning visuals and level variety
  • Superior stealth-action gameplay
  • Top tier level design

Cons

  • The final level leaves something to be desired
  • The story builds to an anti-climactic conclusion

Score: 9.5

A copy of this game was provided by IO Interactive for review.