Hitman World Of Assassination

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X
Genre: Action/Adventure
Developer: IO Interactive
Release Date: Jan. 20, 2021

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PS4 Review - 'Hitman III'

by Andreas Salmen on Jan. 19, 2021 @ 5:00 a.m. PST

Hitman World Of Assassination is the dramatic conclusion to the World of Assassination trilogy, taking players around the world on a globetrotting adventure to sprawling sandbox locations, with Agent 47 returning for the most important contracts of his career.

Buy Hitman III

Hitman is one of gaming's most recognizable characters in one of the last big stealth game series. With Hitman 3, developer and publisher IO Interactive has crafted the final installment for its "World of Assassination" trilogy to tie up Agent 47's storyline and provide the last batch of memorable levels. We've taken a look at the PS4 version of the game to see if Agent 47, much like his targets, can go out with a bang.

After uncovering a "shadow client" in the first entry and working with that shadow client to destroy a secret organization in the sequel, Hitman 3 sees us hunting down its remaining operatives. However, not all goes well in Agent 47's pursuit of the secret organization, which is as much as I can say without giving away any plot points.

Hitman 3 is essentially the third iteration of a tried-and-tested formula, and although it doesn't necessarily provide revolutionary new ways to play, it provides exciting playgrounds to play around in. Hitman 3 mostly looks and plays like the previous entries, with massive stages in exotic or remote locations, each spot filled with numerous NPCs and targets. The player exploits the AI by acquiring disguises, creating distractions, and removing some of the pawns from the chessboard to create opportunities. Each stage can be tackled in multiple ways and offers lots of methods to dispose of your targets. The game rewards playing stages multiple times and trying out new ways to tackle a situation, and rewards include new unlockable gear, starting points, and costumes.

In Hitman 3, all stages from the two previous games can be imported and played within this title, essentially making it one massive Hitman game. If you're into Hitman, this third entry will check all of the series's boxes, and that is before considering its exclusive VR mode on the PS4.

Six stages are included in Hitman 3, five of which are in tune with the sandbox areas that the game has provided in the past. The final mission is closer to Hitman: Absolution in style. It requires the same stealth mechanics, but it's a relatively linear stage that doesn't offer much deviation from the critical path. It serves as a pretty but limited set piece to finish off Agent 47's story arc. The rest of the stages deliver on the familiar formula: crowded areas with hundreds of NPCs, targets to eliminate, and safe and restricted zones. It'd be easy to shrug it off as ''more of the same," but it isn't. In my Hitman 2 review in 2018, I was pleasantly surprised by some of the more experimental mission objectives, like the Mumbai stage where one of the three targets was unknown at the start of the mission. Hitman 3 continues that with some of its mission designs, but it also adds a few new mechanics to the mix.

Agent 47 now has a camera at his disposal. Stages now feature challenges that are related to taking pictures of objects or people. If you import previous levels into Hitman 3, those should now feature new photo opportunities. More practical is the ability to scan information and hack smart locks on entrances, vents or windows in select stages with your camera. I found its addition underwhelming and limited in use, especially since previous levels don't offer as many interactive components for the camera.

Additionally, all Hitman 3 stages include permanent shortcuts, which work similarly to shortcuts in Souls-like games. Some ladders and doors can only be opened from one side but stay open on future runs. Unlocking all of them in a stage offers further access points to quickly reach certain areas to incentivize repeated playthroughs and exploration within a level. It's a small change, but it works as advertised and provides additional ways to obtain a Silent Assassin rank in a stage.

Another addition that ties in well with the new camera is number locks and safes. Instead of relying on keys and access cards, Hitman 3 introduces number codes to open certain locks. Codes may be scribbled down on a whiteboard or piece of paper in the world or uttered in an NPC conversation, and that keeps the lock closed until we find the right combination. Again, it's a small change that further incentives exploration and looking around the environment for details.

Any Hitman game is only as strong as its gameplay and level design, which is why I'll discuss each stage. If you would consider general mission objectives and story setups as spoilers, you may want to skip to the end of this review.

The first contract is a great introductory mission that plays in Dubai during the grand opening of the tallest skyscraper in the world. With two targets to kill, this mission felt like it picked up where Hitman 2 left off. The map isn't large in terms of area, but the verticality makes it fun to dart around the level. Elevator shafts and pipes outside the building provide alternative access routes to new areas that have a good range of opportunities to infiltrate and manipulate your surroundings for the perfect kill. It's also quite a looker, with marble floors and golden pillars that beautifully frame the sun-filled interiors. It also introduces some smart windows that can be opened with our new camera and a few codes for doors and safes throughout the level.

Agent 47's second mission takes place in Dartmoor at an old English manor, where everyone seems to be up to something shady. If you've seen previous promo materials, this one was likely the standout. The staff and family at Dartmoor are in a ruckus due to a recent suicide in the family and ongoing funeral arrangements. Our target has called for a private investigator to examine the alleged suicide as murder, making this stage both a traditional Hitman level and a murder mystery. We will not go into further details, but the investigation mission provides lots of opportunities that you would otherwise be locked out of.

My favorite stage in Hitman 3 is its Berlin mission. It takes place at a rave in an abandoned nuclear power plant, which is plastered in colorful graffiti and features the thumping of techno music inside its concrete walls. There's also a biker gang in a nearby abandoned building producing drugs to distribute in the nightclub. It feels like a subtle wink to Berlin's notorious Berghain club. The combined mission area is massive and densely populated, and the targets get more experimental. There are a bunch of targets, they have to be identified, and about half of them must be taken out to fulfill the contract. Between the strobe lights, drugs, gangs, and crowds of people, it's quite a complex environment. It's also full of accidents waiting to happen and a lot of sightlines. This level featured some of my favorite moments throughout the trilogy, which is high praise because the next two stages are nothing to scoff at.

While IO hasn't spoiled much more than a few short glimpses, its Chongqing location is quite a layered mission. Agent 47 starts in dark back alleys as the rain pours down. It seems unremarkable, but there is a secret underground facility that 47 needs to infiltrate, reminiscent of Hitman 2016's Hokkaido mission. It heavily relies on 47's new camera to provide access to doors and vents. IO is currently working on a James Bond game, and that's probably as well as I can describe the feeling of this stage. Hitman is at its best when you descend from street vendor-littered streets to attempt to infiltrate a heavily secured area in a futuristic secret building.

Sapienza from Hitman 2016 is upheld as a favorite by many fans of the Hitman trilogy. In my opinion, no other map has managed to capture the same feel for me until the penultimate stage in Mendoza, Argentina. As we infiltrate a dinner party on a vineyard, we see large stretches of grapevine surrounding the luxurious estate, which has quite the security detail. Whereas previous maps had a strict separation between public and restricted spaces, Mendoza does not, causing quite a few challenges since many areas are in open view of many NPCs. Your options are manifold, and not all of them involve wine production as a catalyst to your murder spree. It's a beautiful level to look at, and it's a familiar yet new situation that Agent 47 has to handle, both in terms of story beats and setup. It's also the last proper stage to explore, and there is a lot to see and do.

I won't mention much more than I already have about the final stage taking place in Romania, but I cannot help but wish that its final stage would be more fun to play. It's nice to look at and offers a few minor challenges to complete, but I had hoped for a grander finale than what we got.

Overall, I enjoyed almost everything Hitman 3 had to offer. Every mission's appearance, setup and target were wildly different. In previous entries, there were a few levels that I wasn't interested in or didn't return to as often. With the exception of Hitman 3's final stage, every map was a joy to play and complete. They also felt much denser in terms of layout, NPCs, and opportunities, which I appreciated. I also like that the game went back to a ranking system, so each level playthrough earns a rank depending on your play style.

Visually, Hitman 3 is a step up from its predecessor, but it still looks like a Hitman game. Lighting and reflections are the most notable additions next to the remarkable rain effects. There are improved animations — although a lot of them still look stiff — and the AI is the same (slightly dumb but predictable and dangerous in numbers). I wish the game had more voice acting variety, since it seems like you're talking to the same six voice actors throughout the trilogy.

Playing Hitman 3 on a PS4 Pro, the game ran at a solid 30fps somewhere between 1080p and 4K, and an unlocked frame rate mode is noticeably off from 60fp but higher than 30fps on several occasions. It runs as well as previous entries did on the system, so even if you do not have a PS5 in your home, Hitman 3 on the PS4 looks stunning and performs well. Loading and saving feel significantly snappier than they did in Hitman 2, which is quite a relief in a game where frequent saving and loading is required. The only downside is that there is still no great way to quicksave the game without entering the save menu. It's also not a completely bug-free experience, with a few clipping issues and characters standing on chairs rather than sitting in them. There's nothing major or game-breaking, and bugs are within the expected parameters.

If you've played Hitman 2, IO provides an opportunity to import previous progress and unlocks into Hitman 3, and owners of the previous two entries can play all previous levels within Hitman 3. Previous levels were not yet available to us at the time of this review, so we can't see how well older levels work within Hitman 3 on the PS4. We also want to mention the PS4-exclusive PSVR mode that looks and plays incredibly well, although it is limited in its control scheme and interactable environment. It fares much better than previous "from flat to VR" conversions like Skyrim VR or Borderlands 2 VR, which is quite a compliment. We will address Hitman's VR mode in more detail in a separate review after its release, but if you own PSVR, the addition of this mode alone makes Hitman 3 on the PS4 a very good value proposition.

Hitman 3 is a difficult game to review. It's easy to dismiss it as a level add-on, and that's what it is to a certain extent. At the same time, the third Hitman game delivers a satisfying and worthwhile ending to the series and some fun and varied stages, all while adding a bunch of minor adjustments and content that fans will enjoy for hours. If you're a fan of the series, Hitman 3 is a very competent end to the trilogy that provides a massive and deep Hitman experience that is easy to recommend. At the same time, there isn't much innovation here, and that may make Hitman 3 a tough sell at full price. The new VR mode adds further value for those who own a PSVR headset, and that alone may warrant a purchase.

Score: 8.6/10

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