The Hitman games are stealth/strategy titles that assign players the task of embodying a master killer—the genetically constructed Agent 47—and assassinating a given human target in the midst of large, difficult-to-infiltrate scenarios. Hitman 3 is the last in a trilogy of World of Assassination games, a franchise reboot that IO Interactive launched in 2016.
The story involves the step-by-step dismantling of a secret society called Providence. This nasty organization and its dastardly power players has been behind deadly, destructive globe-spanning events for years, all designed to shape political and financial world events in its favor. And it’s time Agent 47 ends all that.
For all of the game’s focus on killing specific targets, however, Hitman 3 is not about creating virtual grisly murder scenes. Actually, quite the opposite. The goal of this game is to give players all the opportunities and tools they need to analyze a given scenario and location—such as navigating a massive public art gala with thousands of observers or making a way through the world’s tallest skyscraper or a completely locked down corporate base—in order to figure out how to infiltrate and carry out a mission unnoticed.
There are scores of ways to accomplish the tasks at hand through observation, disguise, sleight of hand and experimentation. And there are hundreds of obstacles—from armed guards to locked doors to camera surveillance and alarm systems—to keep you from it.
The most demanding tasks in Hitman 3 ask that Agent 47 never be seen and that no evidence of his crime be noticed until after the mission is completed. The complexity curve of the missions begins small and grows to the point of feeling nearly impossible, but the game also gives players guidance to possible solutions, when needed.
In spite of the fact that your task is murder, the strategic challenges of this game are mentally stimulating. And Agent 47’s actions always appear to be for the greater good (though, in truth he carries no guilt about killing).
The game is so well designed that your strategies can take minutes or hours, depending on your observation skills and how mess-free you want to be. Good players will use patience and a willingness to listen and observe and then be able to take advantage of small windows of opportunity when they arise. It’s possible to enter a scenario without disguises or weapons and proceed to the task without causing physical harm to others (except for the human target, of course).
Flipping a coin into a hallway to distract an armed guard, or using well-placed objects to manipulate a character’s choices, or even laying down a banana peel to cause an accidental mishap are all possible diversions here. In fact, the game penalizes players for unnecessary deadliness and rewards them for stealthy bloodless play. Gameplay here will, in many cases, be far less bloody than other M-rated titles.
All the possible choices in any of the six main missions also offer lots of replay possibilities for gamers who enjoy these challenges. And closer inspection of the various locales can reveal concealed passageways and hidden story secrets.
All of that said, this is a game focused on stealthy murder. As such, it opens the doors to potential content that does, in fact, reflect its M rating.
Players will hear occasional f- and s-words in the dialogue. And the assassinations, though rarely massively bloody, can be graphic and intense at times. Players can use pistols, machine guns and rifles from a third-person perspective. They can throw hammers, crowbars and knives with pinpoint accuracy. And they can use anything from blunt objects to knives to a garrote wire to take out characters up close. The shots or blows result in blood spatter.
Then there are the environmental hazards that Agent 47 can employ. Targets can be eliminated by being drowned in a toilet or blown away with an exploding golf ball or through the use of poison poured in a drink. Chandeliers and other heavy objects can be dropped on unsuspecting heads. People can be shoved off high platforms. And bodies can be disposed of in everything from a closet to a woodchipper (the latter causing quite a bit of gory mess).
Drinking and smoking is also part of the story mix, as well as discussions of illegal drugs.
It’s easy to look at Hitman 3 and proclaim that it’s a well-made game. And there are quite a few strategic challenges here that other games can’t come close to.
But those positives are, quite frankly, complicated … and compromised by the game’s deadly premise and the uh, execution, of it. Hitman 3 focuses on skilled assassination. And you could even go so far as saying this game is a virtual murder simulator—just as other titles simulate trigger-pulling or stealing a car.
Hitman 3 may not have quite as many graphic content concerns as most M-rated games. But meticulously rehearsing assassination probably isn’t how most parents want their kids investing their time and creative energy.
After spending more than two decades touring, directing, writing and producing for Christian theater and radio (most recently for Adventures in Odyssey, which he still contributes to), Bob joined the Plugged In staff to help us focus more heavily on video games. He is also one of our primary movie reviewers.