Initial release date: January 20, 2021
Developer: IO Interactive
Director(s): Christian Elverdam; Mattias Engström
Publisher: IO Interactive
Platforms: PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, Xbox Series X and Series S, Microsoft Windows
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"Review copy provided by IO Interactive"
Agent 47 has become a gaming icon over the last 20 years starting with the original Hitman: Agent 47 on PC in 2000 all the way up to the current release in 2021 with Hitman III. The Hitman franchise has helped push the stealth genre to new heights and has continued to innovate and reinvent the genre with each successive entry. The series has long been loved for everything from its story to its gameplay and was steadily outdoing each previous entry until the acquisition of the franchise temporarily by Square-Enix and the release of Hitman Absolution which was one of the lowest and most controversial entries in the franchise which lead to a long hibernation of the series until the release of 2016’s Hitman which served not only as a soft reboot of the series but also a continuation following the events of Absolution and the starting of a new story arc with the “World of Assassination” trilogy. With the final game in this trilogy being released, the question is does Hitman III live up to the franchises legacy or does it fail in the final act? Let’s find out!
Hitman III follows immediately after Hitman 2 and is set to conclude the “World of Assassination” trilogy with Agent 47 teaming up with his longtime friend Lucas Grey and his Agency handler Diana Burnwood to eliminate the partners of Providence.
This game is RIDICULOUSLY FUN! I had to start off with saying that because I absolutely love how this game plays. While it does have its hiccups here and there it is pretty solid overall. You have buttons mapped for running, crouching, wall clinging, vaulting, attacking enemies, aiming, shooting and the like.
You have access to a wide range of gadgets and tech to help make your way through levels such as using your camera to unlock various windows and close them off so that your enemies cannot see your actions if they are in rooms and the like.
You have the ability to select from 3 different difficulties which will change up the way levels play out with either removing surveillance cameras and having less alert if not none aware NPCs or if you play on the highest difficulty then you will have more NPCs with only one save per level and TONS of surveillance cameras.
So is Hitman III or the Hitman franchise an action game? Yes and No but also depending on the game, however, for clarity sake this is a game that focuses heavily upon being an open sandbox stealth title and not a sandbox 3rd person shooter.
Success in the various missions will require you to learn not only level layouts but also enemy layouts and contrast that to your current weapon loadout that you take into each mission as well as being able to successful blend in with the NPCs as well by maintaining your cover and switching disguises as needed to execute the hit. How you go about missions is entirely up to you. Want to go in guns blazing and not worry about stealth? Go ahead. Want to use the environments to make it seem like your targets death is entirely a chance accident? Make it happen. Want to go in and approach your hit like a professional and switch up the method of the hit based on any number of variables that can and will happen? You know what to do!
A great example of this of which I will include two examples is of the first level in Dubai and the second level in the mansion estate. In the “On Top of the World” level you have two targets to take out that are in entirely two different areas in the building. Do you go straight up to them and put a bullet in their head or do you use the environment to help them meet their maker OR do you go to the kitchen where the one target gets their food and you add in rat poisoning and have them eat it? You can even hack a server room and get both your targets into one area and drop a crane of items on them leaving you to just need to leave the hotel.
What’s super cool is how you’ll never play the same mission the same way as you can change your load out, attire, and even where your starting point is. Case in point the first mission in Dubai; want to start off in the kitchen or wait staff area instead of the outside of the hotel or the elevator door.
"It’s all about the excellence of execution with the levels as your canvas and your weapons as your paint brushes and paint as you are the Picasso of Death"
I’ll mention it here since it’s something people may want to know; there is a VR mode if you’re playing this on PS4 however this feature is missing from the PS5 version which is strange given the fact that you can use the PSVR on the 5 so if you want to play the game in VR then you’ll have to either play it on an actual PS4 or play the PS4 version on your PS5.
Depending on what platform you play this on, Hitman III can like great or it can look downright GORGEOUS! On the PS4 and Xbox One the game looks good running at 1080p at a stable 30FPS and can be run at 1080p 60FPS on the PS4 Pro and 1440p at 30FPS on the Xbox One X. On PS5 the game runs at 1800p at 60FPS and native 4K 60FPS on the Xbox Series X and on the Xbox Series S it runs at 1080p 60FPS.
On the current generation of consoles, you’ll see incredible lighting and bloom effects along with impressive shadow detail and textures being noticeably higher than previous generation. The details of the character models are fairly high although in comparison to games like Ghost of Tsushima and Assassins Creed Valhalla they don’t look anywhere near as good.
I noticed that there are other visual HUD or Heads-Up Display differences between the previous generation and the current one with how in the current gen when an NPC notices an unconscious or dead body or hears something used as a distraction then they end going to investigate and you’ll see pop up video feed of the NPC whose attention has been caught and what they are doing. In the previous generation version this feature of the HUD does not exist nor happen at all and you’ll be left to rely upon the instincts shoulder button and observing what the NPC ends up doing instead.
There’s not one bad bit of audio in this game from the voices to the music to the ambience of the environments to the sounds of weapons firing and explosions and more.
The voice actors all deliver their lines perfectly believably with Agent 47 sounding the best of all. Each weapon you pop off sound like their real life counterparts and I’m incredibly pleased with this.
The biggest thing here is the conversations that various NPCs often have with one another that honestly brings the world to life and makes the NPCs seem like living breathing characters in a fully realized worlds. You’ll hear house maids talk to security guards talking about their relationships together and then those same maids talking to other wait staff expressing their frustrations about their significant others. These aspects are delivered incredibly well and I’m sure you’ll love it just as much as I do.
The game doesn’t have many downsides but ones I will mention are the few that to me do stand out and they are the graphics, the sometimes-clunky controls, and the overall jank of the animations at times especially with death animations and the rag doll physics.
The graphics look good but compared to everything else that has released in 2019 and 2020 (even 2018); Hitman III looks dated by comparison. Even the CG cutscenes look incredibly dated with some muddy models for the characters save for Agent 47 that honestly break the immersion of the game when you go from playing the game in or near 4K at 60FPS and then the cutscenes play with a lower resolution cutscenes that run at a lower framerate.
The AI can be downright braindead with enemies not even responding to things you do to you being able to take out enemies stealthily and then somehow EVERYONE knows who you are and where you are and will rain down on you like heavy rain (real rain not the video game).
When enemies die they often have some unnatural responses to the ways you kill them as some will just drop like a sack of potatoes and when you try to grab drag them they move in incredibly un-lifelike ways that honestly remind me of the original Hitman and Hitman 2: Silent Assassin which makes me think this series has a serious problem with reusing animation assets.
The last real issue that I have is with the controls being clunky as it can bring the fun of the game to a complete stop. There are time when you need to interact with the environment and the unconscious or dead bodies of enemies and NPCs and sometimes the interaction buttons being Square, Cross, and Triangle will often just not work or not even pop up which will leave you waiting for the prompt to appear. This is annoying because there will be times when you need to get out of areas quickly or stealth around and do something super quickly this will ultimately cost you your rank on many playthroughs.
That’s all I got for issues here.
Trilogies often either peter out on their last legs overstaying their welcome OR they knock it out of the park and leave you wanting more; in the case of Hitman III it not only wraps up the World of Assassination Trilogy but also leaves you wanting more of Agent 47 and his escapades of death dealing. With a solid narrative, engrossing gameplay, a world that feels alive, and near limitless replay value; Hitman III is quite simply one of the best games of 2021 and already a contender for not only one of the top games of the year but also a Game of the Year contender. This is a master stroke of genius from the team at IO Interactive and I honestly hope they make more Hitman games, and I cannot wait to see what they do with the upcoming James Bond game.