Hitman 3, more so than its predecessors, defines the player character Agent 47 by his relationships with characters, rather than spaces. The game is a procedural, meaning that neurotic emphasis is placed on the construction and form of the game world.
In the incredible Hitman 2, 47’s investigation and mastery of locations scans as him grappling with his tragic past. The maze-like level construction allows developers IO Interactive to translate feelings of self-determination in the face of crushing self-doubt. It also creates the feeling of being stuck in your own head (which, coincidentally, makes it the perfect game for life during a pandemic lockdown). The game is emotional without trying to be, and special even outside of the context of stealth games.
This new entry finally reveals many details about 47’s life before becoming an assassin, calling attention to his actions and how they affect other characters. As such, Hitman 3 becomes an experience of catharsis. This effect is further strengthened by gameplay changes, for example the more impactful sound of a pistol headshot against a target.
Moments of intimacy between characters aspire to a sense of resolution
Like in any videogame, the “themes” of Hitman are not foremost communicated by the narrative, but by gameplay. Moments of intimacy between characters aspire to a sense of resolution. This is seen with Diana, your guide in most missions, in the game’s penultimate level in an Argentinian winery, dancing with you after you kill the levels two targets.
Other changes include the gun combat, which has been made to feel looser, to surprising effect. In place of the ways in which you dominate each level in the second game, the looser combat feel adds a sense of mania that wasn’t there. The many assassination “opportunities” are present in Hitman 3 and are injected with the same delightful humour as in previous entries.
There are typically two targets in each level, and a huge number of ways to eliminate them, many of which involve direct contact with the target through conversation; all of which hold potent irony in the context of an assassination sim. The game’s humour is never nasty, however, and special care is given to not dehumanise the non-targets of each level, mainly by giving penalties for killing innocents, and rewarding low collateral damage through the Silent Assassin award. Hitman’s sandbox never feels like nasty wish-fulfilment as a result.
Hitman 3 is less compulsively replay-able than the other games in this new trilogy
Perhaps inevitably due to its thematic evolution, Hitman 3 is less compulsively replay-able than the other games in this new trilogy, fulfilling a neurotic desire to understand what you, as 47, are trying to cope with by mastering each layout and NPC (non-playable character) interaction.
Many shorter levels have the vision of previous games, but not the scale, and therefore feel more compact. As a result, my favourite location is probably Mendoza, Argentina, where the newer, more conclusive style (case in point, an impactful, lightly humorous, and neurotic scene of revenge against one of the level’s targets) and the maddening maze construction of the series’ past meld wonderfully. Overall, Hitman 3 is a good entry in an amazing trilogy.
In article images courtesy of @hitman_official on Instagram. No changes were made to these images.
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