IO Interactive have been through a lot since they rebooted the Hitman games in 2016. When they released the first one, they were owned by Square Enix and were required to release the game episodically. Just before the sequel was to be released in 2018, Square was in the process of shutting them down in a cost cutting measure, but in rare moment of corporate kindness and foresight, Square agreed to a management buyout. The newly independent studio needed a new publisher and found that in WB. And now with the last instalment in this trilogy, IO Interactive can self-publish; no doubt assisted by an exclusivity deal with Epic for the PC version. All through this, IO Interactive has maintained the quality and excellence in the game design resulting in not just an excellent game in Hitman 3 but a satisfying and excellent capper to a four-year journey for many fans.
Hitman 3 concludes the story of Diana and Agent 47 as they unravel a mystery and conspiracy surrounding the powerful and secretive organization known as Providence. What follows is a set of missions in increasingly elaborate locations that follows 47 as he attempts to escape his fate. To the writer’s credit, this is the first game in this trilogy where the story is even slightly interesting. Instead of skipping past the cutscenes as I did previously, I was interested in trying to understand the story as it felt cohesive and not just a cursory attempt at connective tissue linking locations and missions. This sense of cohesion is probably since this game is the first to have been designed to have been released whole and not episodically.
In the past I praised the episodic nature of the games because of the structure of each location and how an episodic release encouraged the player to replay the level to explore and discover all the secrets - and to complete the assassinations in as many creative ways as possible. While this was an advantage in encouraging players to compete for places on the leader board as well as giving you the chance to discover everything the developers had put into the level, with a full release the player is incentivized to push through the level as quickly as possible to get to the next level. Some players will come back and replay the game over and over but for many, once they have got their satisfaction from the game they will move on to the next release. Doing that will be a mistake.
The story, while more cohesive, is still secondary to the tick-tock mechanics of the levels. At its heart, Hitman is a puzzle game. This is not a game, at least on first playthrough, where you should rush into situations. Patience is rewarded as you learn NPC routines and discover different routes to your targets. And while doing that you will discover the level specific Mission Stories that open a guided assassination route. Purists have and will sneer at these, but they are a great way for newcomers to the series to complete the level, given that they open some interesting and creative resolutions to the ultimate puzzle that are worth the effort.
Hitman is not an action game; going all Rambo is generally a recipe for disaster...
Each of the levels shows a degree of care and attention to detail that you don’t always see in game development.
The only advantage the PS5 has over the PS4 is in load times...
Grumpy Old Man who still collects toys (THEY. ARE. NOT. DOLLS), PC Gamer lured to the Dark Side of console gaming, comic book reader and fan of all things pop culture.
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PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series
20 January 2021
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