Hitman 3 review: Hits the mark

Title: Hitman 3
Developer: IO Interactive
Publisher: IO Interactive
Platforms: PlayStation 5 (reviewed on), PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X, Xbox One, Google Stadia, PC
Release Date: January 20, 2021

What started as a reboot of the Hitman series in 2016 has now finally reached its apex of the World of Assassination Trilogy with Hitman 3. With each game building up an intriguing spy-thriller story, and giving more and more options on how you complete a mission, Hitman 3 is near-perfection.

Hitman 3 builds on everything you love about the Hitman series. It’s the true open assassination sandbox that takes you on a tour around the world (Dubai and Berlin to name a few) while putting a tidy bow on the story that still leaves it open for further entries (I hope that’s vague enough because the story is excellent, so spoilers won’t be included in this review).

Right from the get-go, you’ll notice that your whole Hitman experience can be accessed from Hitman 3’s main menu if you own previous titles and DLC. It’s an easy way to navigate around the play experience you want to have. All locations from the previous games and DLC feature upgraded visuals and animations, and you’ll be able to use new equipment and gameplay elements from Hitman 3 in those levels. It all ties into a united career/progression system that tracks all of your stats into one profile across all three games.

Hitman 3

IO Interactive

The gameplay of Hitman 3 is the best I’ve experienced in the series. It’s polished, still features hilarious moments and dialogue, and let’s you get as creative or as straightforward as you want in eliminating your targets. Animations are quick and slick. The shooting is still not amazing, but you shouldn’t (although it’s viable to do so) go in guns blazing. Stealth gameplay is king and hiding bodies, swapping between costumes, and distracting guards are still rewarding experiences. Missions are able to be completed within minutes, or you can take your time and really explore every nook and cranny of a level, enjoying hours in a single run of a level.

An example I’ll use is the Dartmoor mission. It’s a sprawling countryside mansion and property that features multiple stories, tons of intrigue about a who-dun-it murder, and a lot of different paths to assassination to uncover. I spent at least two hours in my first play-through of Dartmoor, just because the story and characters were so great. What adds to the replay value of these missions are mission stories — guided plot lines that give you more information about the characters involved. You can set which of the stories you want to be active and will be guided through the steps to progress the story. In addition to giving more plot, they give new opportunities for you to get close to your target for a different approach to a kill.

In addition to stories, missions have challenges and masteries. Challenges reward experience for doing something specific in a level, like breaking into a safe and retrieving a case file, killing someone a certain way, or spying on someone. It encourages multiple playthroughs, exploration, and creativity to kill people in ways that you wouldn’t necessarily think of. Masteries unlock new starting locations, starting items, and the ability to hide items within a level. This will aid you in completing missions a different way.

Hitman 3

IO Interactive

Another thing about these missions are shortcuts that can be unlocked permanently so that they’re available in other runs. For instance, there’s a mission on a train where certain freight doors are locked, but if you find the way to unlock them in your run, when you replay it they’ll already be unlocked, giving you a new way to navigate the level. These shortcuts come in the form of doors, access points and ladders. I haven’t unlocked all of them and I’ve dumped a sizable amount of time into each mission.

Missions can be replayed with different objectives as well. In one playthrough you can have it set to kill the main target, and in another have it changed so that you’re trying to kill a different target with a specific weapon.

One thing I will note is the game encourages you to save often. And you definitely should. Thought there are some automatic saves, they aren’t nearly frequent enough. I regretted a few times not saving manually only to mess up a strategy I was trying and have to load a save point from early on in the mission. So have multiple, frequent saves so you can choose where to go back to when a mission goes awry.

You can access other game modes in Hitman 3, as well, like Hitman 2’s Sniper Assassin. Escalations puts gameplay restrictions on equipment and disguises, as well as other modifiers to make missions more challenging. And even more replay value will be featured in Contracts Mode, where you choose the targets, how to eliminate them and how to make it happen in a customized challenge. You can play Contracts created by other players, or share yours with your friends to compete for best scores.

Hitman 3

IO Interactive

My only gripe is that at launch there isn’t a multiplayer game mode. The missions in Hitman 3 are so robust that to not have a multiplayer mode at launch feels like a missed opportunity. When IO announced that their 1v1 Ghost Mode wouldn’t be in Hitman 3, I was hoping that it would be replaced by something. They’ve said that they’re taking what they learned from previous multiplayer modes when figuring out what they want to do with multiplayer in the future, but there’s been nothing on that front. That said, there’s so much to do on your own, for there not to be a multiplayer game mode at launch as the only knock against a game isn’t terrible.

As you can tell, I love Hitman 3. And that’s coming from a person that usually isn’t a fan of other stealth game series. But the world, story and gameplay that’s been put together over the last four years have been mastered and wrapped up in Hitman 3.

Hitman 3

IO Interactive

9.5

Hitman 3 hits the mark, plain and simple. Not only is it the best stealth/assassin sandbox gameplay of the franchise, but it stands among the best of the genre. It’s everything you love and want from a Hitman game with extreme polish, intriguing levels and tons of replay value. The only knocks are average gun play and no multiplayer mode for a game that undoubtedly would shine even further with one.

A copy of this game was provided to App Trigger for the purpose of this review. All scores are ranked out of 10, with .5 increments. Click here to learn more about our Review Policy.