Hitman 3: IO hits the bullseye

There’s a moment in the opening minutes of Hitman 3’s Chongqing, China, mission when you realise that there is actually a real-life human being inside genetically engineered killer Agent 47.

The “moment” happens on an over pass near Chongqing’s train station where a young woman is staring out over the harbour, puffing on a cigarette as rain falls onto the neon-lit streets. She asks Agent 47 whether he has seen a woman with a green top. He replies he hasn’t then the woman tells 47 how the woman’s friend has been rock over the year and perhaps she has decided not to come meet her for drinks.

It’s what happens next that surprised me: Agent 47 tells the woman, sagely, that her friend agreed to meet her at 4am, in the rain, and that wasn’t the actions of someone who didn’t care. He then suggests she pick up the tab to show how much she appreciates her friendship. The conversation ends and Agent 47 goes on his way but it’s a powerful sequence with masterful writing. In those few sentences Agent 47 shows that despite a life filled with murder and mayhem, he can show human emotion when needed.

OK, touching moment in Chongqing out of the way, Hitman 3 is a truly fitting farewell for the trilogoy started by developer IO Interactive in 2016 and follows the format bedded in by the two previous games: A handful of locations (this time around 47 will visit places like Dartmoor in England, Mendoza in Argentina, Chongqing in China and Berlin), a variety of targets and multiple ways to reach your end goal.

The opening mission, for example, sees 47 infiltrating the tallest building in the world, the Sceptre in Dubai, to assassinate two wealthy targets – but he’s not alone, this time he’s assisted by former foe Lucas Grey.

As I moved to the entry point in the Sceptre, 47 bumped into a tool box that was sitting on a work platform, spilling tools from the container. I just watched as the tool box – and the tools inside – spun aimlessly for what seemed like an eternity before clattering noisily onto a girder hundreds of metres below me.

As with previous Hitman games, wardrobes, cabinets, dumpsters and freezers are 47’s best friend again – they’re great locations to stash bodies out of sight – and once again, the beauty of the Hitman games is the open-endedness of the game play. There are myriad ways to assassinate targets so they look like accidents using a variety of implements: letter openers, poisons,  exploding golf balls, cans of drink, bananas … and it’s this open-endedness that means you’ll come back to a location time and time again to eek out all its little secrets.

Something I really love about the recent Hitman games – and the opening conversations is a good example of this – is the dialogue from and between NPCs, some which might lead to important information about targets and their movements and others which are just downright amusing and fun and just add to the immersion of the game world.

Examples? One time, Agent 47 was getting getting frisked by a security guard who proclaimed “No need to flex you don’t need to impress me”. Another time, 47 was following too closely to an NPC who turned around saying “Hey, space bubble, buddy”. Then there was the time a commando radioed command after spotting 47 throw a can of soft drink at a soldier’s head:”Eyes on comedian throwing things at people.”

I sometimes found myself hiding behind a desk or object just to eavesdrop on conversations, like the NPC who was lamenting to a work colleague he thought was his friend that he had just been fired by his employer for no reason and could they still be friends.

The Hitman games are all about planning, planning and planning but sometimes, though, the series is at its finest when you bumble an assassination attempt & things turn to shit but somehow, some way, you manage to complete your task and get to an escape point. Other times, though, you’ll make such a meal of it that it’ll turn to custard mere metres from an exit point and there’s no choice but to reload a saved game and try better next time.

Of the locations in Hitman 3, I’d have to say my favourites are Berlin and the Carpathian Mountains in Romania.

Berlin is brilliant because it’s unlike previous missions in that you’re not actually sure who your target – or targets, in this case – is: Just that you need to locate the ICA agents that have infiltrated the rave at an abandoned nuclear plant and eliminate them before they spot you. The beauty here is the game forces you to get close to people until you can identify them sufficiently to mark as a target. What makes it tense, though, is the ICA agents know what you look like so it’s an intricate game of cat-and-mouse.

The Carpathian Mountains mission is brilliant because it’s set on a train and, look, I don’t want to spoil it for you but it’s a no-holds barred, all-gloves-are-off mission where Agent 47 goes weapons free without repercussions. I enjoyed it immensely.

As I said in the beginning of this write-up, Hitman 3 is a fitting farewell to this trilogy and one that I thoroughly enjoyed from start to finish, despite having the odd janky character animation and the pain-in-the-arse always online aspect which does grate from time to time, especially when you get disconnected from the server mid-location!

Developer IO Interactive’s next game is based on British spy James Bond and based on the brilliance that is Hitman, I for one, cannot wait to see where they take Double Oh Seven.

Thanks to Bandai Namco in Australia for the PC code for Hitman 3. I completed the main story then proceeded to visit the locations again, dabbled in some of the sniper challenges and played through some of the contract missions.

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