Jeff’s Game Reviews – Hitman 3Posted: January 22, 2021
Reviewed on Xbox Series X – Also available on PS5, PS4, Xbox One, and PC
The thrill of the kill is everything in the Hitman series. Are you a master craftsman of death or just a sociopath for hire? Who cares? Finding almost limitless possibilities to achieve your objectives and wipe your targets off the map is every bit as fun now as it was when the original game debuted way back in 2000. A sharp reboot in 2016 and a great follow up two years later bring us up to this little gem of a next-gen title, Hitman 3. This series about creative and covert assassinations has been around a long time. So what’s changed?
Well, certainly not the production values, which are often glorious to behold. Played on the new Xbox Series X in stunning 4K HDR, the game’s graphical achievements are evident at almost every turn. Lighting effects are brilliant, environments are large and incredibly detailed, and character models are just advanced enough to ensure players the new gaming generation is off to a good start. Even the music is fantastic. Fully orchestrated and grand, just like a prime entertainment experience ought to be.
Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to bring down the super-secret apparatus our bald-headed, barcoded protag, Agent 47, has spent an entire bloody career killing in the name of. It’s not crucial to have played the previous two entries in the series, but the campaign is well-written and well-acted, so you may want to go back and give the others a shot once you’ve cleared this one. Gameplay is essentially stealth-based, punctuated by moments of tense action, not unlike a good Bond or Bourne movie. Show up at a location, infiltrate, assassinate, get out. But the myriad ways to go about your grim work provide an impressive array of opportunities for fun and creativity. Sure, you can slink your way around, steal a disguise here, set up a killer trap there. Or you can be a bull in a China shop and bludgeon and murder your way to your targets. The choice as always is yours, but rest assured, you’ll never want for options.
Hitman 3 is a bit on the short side, with only six maps and therefore six overarching missions. But the replayability of the game is and should be a factor in your purchasing decision. Are you the sort to want to play huge missions again and again to get all the bloody nuance? Or is once and done enough for you? Developer IO Interactive is now working on a hotly anticipated 007 game, so you might want to get in your covert murder and espionage practice while you can.
The most accurate thing to say about Hitman 3 in relation to its predecessors is that its scope and scale are a tad more robust. Yes, only six maps, but those six maps are gorgeous, huge, and contain so many fun secrets and hidden nooks and crannies you’re crazy if you’re not at least a little bit interested in diving back in after you’ve finished the campaign. Sometimes boneheaded AI and the intense and frequent need to save your game make it feel old-fashioned, but the more time you spend with Hitman 3 the more you realize just how sophisticated it is.
It’s not what you do, it’s the way you do it, your ability to bring down mega-baddies with style and finesse. The game rewards you for not being seen, setting up kills in advance, clearing stages quickly, and so on. Very rarely does Hitman 3 hold your hand. Its main interest is in providing you a worthy sandbox, and it does so with flash and ingenuity.
I must admit that after early experiences with the Hitman franchise when I was a young adult, I haven’t been all that excited to play a new one in quite some time. I’m terrible when it comes to stealth gameplay. Really, just awful at it. Give me a machine gun and an open field to mow down any day. But Hitman 3 has made me rethink its prominence in the popular gaming imagination. It can be so rewarding to sit on top of a target for five or ten minutes, shadowing them like a pro, waiting for the perfect time to strike. Similarly, discovering alternate paths to my objectives, appropriating disguises and equipment, scaling walls and being an unseen agent of chaos, it all makes for an engrossing ride, one for which I’m glad I paid full admission.
This is a game for the meticulous, the completionists among us, and it’s incredibly rewarding on those levels. New players may find it tricky and challenging at first, but patience is a virtue. And so is a good garrot wire. Can’t leave that behind.
Jeff’s Game Reviews gives it an Eight out of Ten.
Jeff Bowles is a science fiction and horror writer from the mountains of Colorado. The best of his outrageous and imaginative work can be found in God’s Body: Book One – The Fall, Godling and Other Paint Stories, Fear and Loathing in Las Cruces, and Brave New Multiverse. He has published work in magazines and anthologies like PodCastle, Tales from the Canyons of the Damned, the Threepenny Review, and Dark Moon Digest. Jeff earned his Master of Fine Arts degree in creative writing at Western State Colorado University. He currently lives in the high-altitude Pikes Peak region, where he dreams strange dreams and spends far too much time under the stars. Jeff’s new novel, Love/Madness/Demon, is available on Amazon now!
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