The Gaming Digest Hitman 3 Review

The Gaming Digest Hitman 3 Review

The Gaming Digest Hitman 3 Review

Posted by Chanel Ferguson

27 Jan, 2021


Hitman 3 concludes IO Interactive’s trilogy by building on what makes the franchise so great—sandbox maps, player choice, and over-the-top assassinations.

The initial release of Hitman (2016) met with some controversy. Always-online components in single-player games are generally frowned upon. The episodic release of new story missions and maps also annoyed plenty of players. This unfortunate combination made the first game in the trilogy fall under the radar. To a certain extent, Hitman 2 suffered the same fate, even with IO Interactive’s decision to not continue the episodic format. The always-online fiasco remained present. Self-publishing their third title separate from Square Enix, IO Interactive sends off the trilogy with a celebration of what makes Agent 47’s adventures so memorable. Dense maps packed with detail, elaborate assassination opportunities, and a final farewell to the long-running Hitman series—Hitman 3 proves itself as a formidable and self-aware entry in the stealth genre. Formidable indeed, but not without its many flaws.


With Hitman (2016) and Hitman 2, playing Hitman 3 is a lot like playing the same game. This is by design, as it’s possible to carry over your progress into Hitman 3. You can access all maps in one place, essentially playing all three games in one. That is, unless you were unfortunate enough to play Hitman 3 on day one. There’s a process where you must sign up for an account on IO Interactive’s website, which begins the transfer process. But once you make this transfer, all of your existing progress with Hitman 3 vanishes. Diehard fans found that the site was down on launch day, leaving them unable to transfer anything over. So the choice remained between playing the new maps and story while waiting, and then erasing all progress once the website came back up—or setting aside years of effort and starting fresh.

The site is working again, but it proved as a poor first impression for Hitman 3’s initial release. The unfortunate return of the always-online component also leaves a sour taste. But when the game works, it’s mostly a joy to play. The first story mission in Dubai is straight out of a Hollywood action thriller, parachuting Agent 47 from the sky and down to the tallest building in the world. There he infiltrates the grand palace, with the map as the player’s sandbox. Hitman’s elaborate assassinations continue through, with chances for players to shove their targets off this building up in the clouds, to poison their target’s food, to pose as their target’s personal guard before betraying them, and so much more.

The freedom of choice is alluring. You can approach Hitman 3’s maps however you want, just like with the first two games in the trilogy. At the same time, this level of continuity can feel stale and same-y. It’s easy to feel as if you’ve been playing the exact same game for the past five years, since 2016. The same gameplay flaws exist in all three games, with the controls feeling clunky and unresponsive at times. 

This lack of precision can be frustrating, especially while attempting to pull off such specific objectives, like quickly knocking out a target and hiding the body before any guards notice. It’s likely you will knock out the target, and then spend a few moments fumbling around with the controls, before the guards ultimately notice you anyway. There are also a few bugs here and there, like guards flailing about in place after you’ve thrown them out a window. Sometimes, after stealing an NPCs clothes for a disguise and hiding their body, they will randomly show up somewhere with no clothes on and continue with their duties, acting as if all is normal. These frustrations break the otherwise seamless experience of playing as Agent 47. He is still a master at donning his nice suit, his fiber wire, and his hilarious penchant for wearing disguises to fool his enemies, infiltrating many extravagant locations across the globe.


Returning to the shadowy plot of Agent 47’s efforts to take down the Providence group, Hitman 3’s story follows the same presentation as the other two games. The short, dramatic cutscenes provide tons of mystery and suspense, with Agent 47 not always certain whom to trust among his allies. But the story itself is mostly forgettable. There’s little focus on character development, or getting to know the characters as people. The plot primarily exists as a vehicle for moving Agent 47 from map to map. There is a more intriguing question throughout, with one of Agent 47’s closest allies appearing to have more nebulous motivations. But their motivations are only uncertain because of how vague the story cutscenes are. Longtime fans will of course have their attachments to certain characters. Newcomers may want to go back and play the previous two games, otherwise they’ll miss out on too much.


From the main menu, the clean, slick interface is simple to navigate—and it feels decidedly modern. The gameplay locations are gorgeous as well, filled with such care and detail. The colorful glare of the neon lights in Chongqing, China are especially beautiful, reflecting off of the rainy ground as the city’s own nightlights. Dubai’s breathtaking sights of the tallest building in the world is also well done—each time you look out a window or stare off the side of a balcony, the clouds hover over the shorter buildings nearby, reminding you of the scope and size of where you are. While the NPCs aren’t always much to look at, Agent 47’s model is appealing, with his strong jaw, bald head, and stern face showing his evolution across two decades of Hitman games. Dressing him up in your favorite suits or disguises is always a blast. You can go around posing as a guard, doctor, bartender, homeless person, a chef, a ninja, or even a clown for the hell of it. It helps that the game knows how silly these disguises are, as Agent 47 will reference this in the story, his deadpan delivery filled with a dry sense of humor.

Music and Sound

Not hearing music in a level is usually a good thing. Sometimes music will play during a party, reminding you of how many witnesses are around, which discourages you from taking lethal actions that could get you in trouble. But most of the time, you won’t hear any music. This means you’re incognito and no one suspects you. Yet as soon as the tense music kicks in when someone discovers you, you immediately know to switch into high-alert mode. That mental signal is effective, setting the rhythm for each mission. The sound of the music itself doesn’t matter as much as the cues they send while playing. Similarly, the sound effects also send some cues of their own. The sounds of approaching footsteps while you’re in the middle of a kill, an ongoing conversation to eavesdrop on, the bustle of an unsuspecting crowd to pass through undetected, the tango music playing for groups of dancing couples—each one expands the ambiance around you, or validates how stealthy you are, cultivating the fantasy of playing as Agent 47. 


Hitman 3 is more of the same, which is both a strength and a weakness. While the maps are much more impressive, and the individual mission stories are more robust, it’s difficult to pick out any other gameplay improvements across the trilogy. The annoying always-online requirement is especially grating for anyone who just wants to relax offline. But the online leaderboards are fun competition, comparing scores with friends and with the top players across the world.

If you didn’t like the first two games, you won’t find much reason to pick up this third one. However, if you loved Hitman (2016) and Hitman 2, you’ll have even more content to lose yourself in. Chasing after new ways to assassinate your targets, building your mastery of a level, unlocking more entrance points and weapons and disguises and still more secrets, and scoring at the top of the leaderboards—there’s an endless amount of replay value across the Hitman trilogy. IO Interactive’s dedication to that replay value is admirable, easily keeping players hooked on this trilogy-in-one for many years to come.


About Author

Chanel Ferguson

Chanel Ferguson is a novelist who loves gaming. She grew up with role-playing games such as Final Fantasy and Shin Megami Tensei. While pursuing an undergraduate degree in philosophy, she spent her free time writing fiction novels, crafting unique worlds and characters inspired by video games.

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