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Review

Review: Hitman 3

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Find out in our review if Hitman 3 managed to surpass its predecessors in this final game as part of the reboot trilogy starring Agent 47.

When IO Interactive rebooted the Hitman franchise in 2016, I was among those who though “Oh great, they are going to ruin a great series.” By 2018 Hitman 2 came out, and I was pleasantly surprised to see the reboot wasn’t a cash grab for nostalgic reasons for the original Hitman games. Now in 2021, we have the third and last entry into the trilogy, and they go out on a high note.

Improvements/Changes

While the improvements to the game from Hitman 2 won’t make you blink fast to see if you’re hallucinating, the advancements to the engine are substantial enough to make one understand that 2 years of tech has evolved since the earlier title.
With built-in HDR support, most of all the modern graphics amenities for PC games and RTX Ray Tracing support coming post-release, this game can look extremely good with a modern PC.
That being said, those a generation or two behind, might have some difficulty cranking the games settings to max and still get 60 FPS on higher than 1080p.
The biggest issue on pre-2080 tier NVIDIA cards is when choosing the higher “Simulation Quality” which only has two settings: Base and High quality.

This setting seems to affect mostly physics interactions, such as bullet hits, environmental destruction and the particle system.
However, my gripe is that the 2 settings are basically an ON/OFF switch. On BASE settings, the game does not model environmental destruction, physics objects are vastly dumbed down, and makes it feel like a totally different engine.

On the high setting, books explode into various pieces paper, marble cracks and falls, upholstery rips and shows the foam interiors, and things just look very convincing.
I am running on an Intel Core i7 6850k with 32 GB of RAM and a NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080, and the only thing that seemed to make my frame rates dip really low during the benchmark was when Simulation Quality was set to high and books were being hit with bullets.
All the other glorious effects ran fine. I wish they had given this option more detail so that users could tone down certain aspects, and keep the ones they like.
If you have a display that supports HDR, the lighting in this game looks eye-squinting bright and realistic.
Even with HDR off, the lighting system seems much improved.

Moving on, the layout and GUI of the game is what you would expect from the earlier Hitman games since 2016.
To someone unfamiliar with the Hitman series, the game menus might be a bit overwhelming, with an overload of information and not enough direction about what you can and can’t change.
However, once you become familiar with the system, it because easy to work and make logical sense.
Challenges, Objectives, Targets and other pertinent information is easily accessible from a fluid, easy to navigate screen system.

Gameplay

Now into the meat and potatoes of what you’re here for: How does Hitman 3 feel, play and what has been improved or lessened since Hitman 2?

Let’s get the bad out-of-the-way first.
In the Sniper Challenges, the sniper mechanics seem lacking when comparing to more “sniper” style games.
No holding your breath to make your aim better, no going prone, no slow motion and the reticule is like taming a wild monkey that just drank a pint of Scotch.
They are fun little diversions to the main game style, but I wouldn’t expect any deep gameplay out this.

When doing the campaign or individual missions, such mission is set-up to be played more than once.
With multiple objectives and new equipment and areas being unlocked each time you play, one thing is clear; playing Hitman 3 as a serious player is not what the developers intended. Agent 47’s stoic and serious manner is highlighted against the very way he kills and the uniforms (clown suit anyone?) he uses. I mean, an explosive rubber ducky is one of his hallmark weapons.
I’m not saying if you have played the Hitman series seriously and tried to be “perfect” that you’re playing wrong. I’m saying you are only getting 20% of the game that way.
Open yourself up to having fun with the games mechanics and entirely new way of playing opens up to you.

There are “guided” mission objectives, where if you find a nugget of info or stumble on someone talking, you can choose to follow a guided method to kill someone.
An example, you overhear someone discussing a weak or broke chain that holds a very heavy chandelier system. You could decide to follow that track and wait for your target to walk under the dangerous chandelier, let go of the pulley system, and bang!, a nice accidental kill.
Or, you can completely ignore any hints or paths and walk up to your target, pull out your weapon and blast them in the back of the head.
But like in the real life, rash decisions have consequences, and fighting your way past 50 guards with nothing but a silenced pistol is grim future indeed.

At the end of the day, there is no “right” way to play Hitman 3, and that is the beauty of it.
Play it the way you want.
You are going to fail.
You are going to accidentally-on-purpose kill some innocent civilians which bring down your score.
As long as you have fun with it, then you are playing the game “as intended”.

Graphics

I touched on this earlier, graphically this game looks very nice. With HDR support the lighting is almost realistic, human characters act and look mostly human (with the exception of Agent 47 who is a walking enigma), the locations are big and offer many ways to get around.

The only real issue I ran into was as I mentioned, if you aren’t using at least a NVIDIA GeForce GTX 2080 you are going to miss out on RTX support and improved variable shading.
The physics and environmental destruction are very well done, however I did run into huge frame rate drops around book destruction.
However, as Agent 47 isn’t known for “praying and spraying” with a fully auto machine gun, the only time you might experience slow downs is if a lot of gunfire and explosions are happening.

Sound

Each site has its own soundscapes.
From the low chatter of people milling about, to the booming PA systems of auction announcers to the roar of Formula race cars tearing down the track, each location sounds correct and is very convincing.

Replayability

The amount of content included in this Swan’s song to the Hitman trilogy is hefty.

The following maps/contracts included at release are:
– Dubai, UAE
– Dartmoor, United Kingdom
– Berlin, Germany
– Chongqing, China
– Mendoza, Argentina
– Carpathian Mountains, Romania
With more on the way with post-release DLC.

As an added bonus, if you already own Hitman 1 or 2, then the locations from those games are included in Hitman 3 once you link your IO account from which you own the previous titles!

There is also a 3 map Sniper Challenge option that plays like the original Sniper Challenge.

Another nice feature is that if you have played Hitman 1 or 2, all saves and unlocks can be transferred to Hitman 3.

If you play through all those and are looking for more, Hitman 3 supports the player created Contracts system, which means almost unlimited re-playability.

To sum up just how much you are getting, if you own Hitman, Hitman 2 and now Hitman 3, you are getting all the maps, all the contracts and all the gameplay in ONE game.
This is how you release sequels.

Story (no spoilers)

First, go play Hitman 1 and 2. The story is deep and complex, and you will just be confused about any story parts unless you do.

However, if you don’t want to play the first 2 story arcs and just want to assassinate people, all you really have to do is focus on each mission separately and you should still have a good time.
The final events of Hitman 3 are much more impactful and meaningful to your actions if you do.
Full of twists, turns, and innuendo.
If you absolutely can’t play Hitman 1 and 2 and really just want to pick it up at the end, here is a video which explains all the high points.

Hitman 1 and 2 Story (SPOILERS)

I do not recommend this method, but it’s here if you want it.
If you’d like to read the Hitman 1 and 2 events, and not watch a video, open the spoiler block to get you up to speed to Hitman 3.

Spoiler

Spoiler warning

The following content has SPOILERS for Hitman 1 and 2. If you’ve not played 1 and 2 and don’t want any spoilers, please skip the STORY (NO SPOILERS) section.

Last Chance…?

HITMAN 1:

Hitman 1 (2016) starts in 1999 with Agent 47 being recruited into the assassination organization known as ICA. ICA is considered a neutral group which completes contracts for the highest bidder, regardless of morality or lack there of. The director of ICA, Eric Sodders, does not like 47 and tries to stop his from passing the recruitment.
Mrs. Diana Burnwood, agent 47’s handler, helps him out so that he passes the tests to become an ICA agent.

Years later, 47 has to assassinate leaders of a spy network called IAGO that reveal lists of world secrets to the highest bidder.
During events that 47 is unaware of, the player learns of the “Shadow Client”, who obtains the list from the target before Agent 47 makes the hit.

Throughout the events of Hitman, this Shadow Client is always one step ahead of 47 by getting information from 47s targets before 47 eliminates said targets.
Eventually it is learned that Agent 47 has killed members of a group called “Providence”, a secret world government organization that controls world affairs.
The ICA directs 47 to take out this Shadow Client to stop them from influencing anymore world events.

47 tracks the Shadow Client to a militia outpost, and after eliminating most of the leaders, 47 finds a room that shows an evidence board dedicated to following 47’s history, kills and events in his life. This makes 47 think that the Shadow Client has been hunting him down all along.

After these events, the director of ICA, Eric Sodders, goes rouge and tells Providence that he will give up the identities and locations of all ICA agents in exchange for his life.
47 kills Sodders after learning of this to protect the ICA.
At the end of Hitman 1, we see Diana Burnwood meet with a Providence leader to discuss working together to find the Shadow Client.

HITMAN 2:

Agent 47 and his handler, Mrs. Burnwood, are working for Providence to find and eliminate the Shadow Client.

47 goes to Miami to kill Providence members who are found to work for the Shadow Client.
It is during this that its revealed that the “Shadow Client” in Lucas Grey, the former head of security for Providence.
47’s assassinations force Lucas Grey to reveal the existence of Providence to the world.

47 tracks down Grey to an outpost in Romania where it’s revealed that both 47 and Grey were clones created by a Dr. Ortmeyer and were raised in this facility to be perfect assassins for Providence.
47 and Grey explain to Mrs. Burnwood that Providence was not only behind a program to create super assassin children, but that Providence controls the world and needs to be taken down.
Grey informs 47 his memories have been wiped when as a child when he and Grey had tried escaping the facility. Grey escaped the wipe, but 47 did not.

Grey knows a way to help restore 47’s memory if 47 and Mrs. Burnwood agree to help him against Providence.
Through Grey we also learn the Providence has 3 major members known as “The Partners” and one known as “The Constant” who does the bidding of “The Partners”.
It is learned that the Partners do not trust the Constant and put a bio-chip in him that can poison him at anytime to keep the Constant from going rouge.

47 learns that he killed Diana’s parents earlier in his career when he was working for Providence, and that it is suggested that Diana may even know it was 47 who did this.

47 recalls a memory of the first Constant known as Janice.
47 goes to the funeral of this Janice and the current Constant is there and 47 kidnaps him.
Under duress, the Constance reveals the history of Providence started with 3 major families coming together to form the Partners to dictate world events.

In the meantime, Diana convinces Providence that 47 and her are in ICA and still working to eliminate Lucas Grey, all the while they are hunting down Providence.
When the Partners learn of the Constant being kidnapped, they fake their own deaths, but 47 tracks down who he thinks is the Partners and kills who he assumes is the Partners who have had fake names and facial reconstruction.

All the funding and control that was supposed to go to the new partners is not going to them, but has being funneled to someone else, the current Constance, Arthur Edwards, who Diana believed was in jail.

In the last cut scene of the Hitman 2 DLC, it is revealed someone helped Arthur Edwards escape and it’s implied that Lucas Grey may have been the one who helped him.

Final thoughts

Hitman 3 offers everything the Hitman series can deliver.
If you played the previous Hitman titles before the 2016 reboot, Hitman kept it’s core methods and improved on almost every facet of the game.

With this title, if you have Hitman or Hitman 2 and just never got around to playing them, you don’t need worry about it as everything you want can be played here, with a better engine and more options.

While some purists might think the pre-2016 were better because they were more challenging, a more challenging game isn’t a better game by definition.
Besides, Hitman 3 can be as hard or easy as you want, so that excuse doesn’t really fly either.

The Hitman series offers a unique style of gameplay not really found in any other games or genres and if you want the best of the best for this type of game, Hitman 3 is the one to get.

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