You can play the first mission of Hitman 3 for free right now, as well as parts of the World of Assassination trilogy thanks to IO Interactive Hitman 3’s Starter Pack (opens in new tab). I thoroughly suggest you do that. And then go and buy the whole game, if not the trilogy, because it’s excellent.
The reason for this bullish recommendation is because I recently got Hitman 3 for the PS5 and I’ve come to realize it’s probably one of the best, most keenly executed — pun intended — stealth games around. It’s also why I’m rather excited about IO getting the license to make a Bond game. Oh, you expect me to talk, dear reader? I shall; you don’t need to threaten me with a laser beam.
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Now at the tender age of 34, my reactions and general gaming ability means my aim is as accurate as a Donald Trump tweet. So I tend to err towards slower paced stealth games; I’ve always enjoyed sneaking around and am surprisingly light on my feet for a 233lb man, so stealth games resonate with me.
But while I love the sticking to the shadows game mechanics of the Thief and earlier Splinter Cell games, as well as the adaptive immersive sim stealth of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, the constant need to remain unseen can get a little tired. But Hitman 3 is all about hiding in plain sight and I feel that makes it one of the purest stealth games.
A stealthy hit
Ever since the very first Hitman game from 2000, Agent 47’s thing has been about knocking out or garroting people and stealing their clothes to sneak past security.
The earlier Hitman games had more of a requirement to seek out specific disguises, which could feel constraining. But from Hitman Blood Money to the World of Assignation trilogy, there are more opportunities to make different disguises suit different situations.
In Hitman 3, I've had 47 assume the disguise of everyone from a basic security guard to a private investigator to a rival assassin who was seemingly plucked from a pulpy 70s movie, with various ways to approach my target opening up with each disguise. There’s something deeply satisfying about breezing right past a pair of elite guards into a high-security area, dispatch the target they’re guarding and walk back out with them oblivious to the murder that's taken place mere meters away. You can do that in some true stealth games, but they scratch a very different itch.
Granted, the whole idea of a bald guy with a barcode tattooed onto the back of his head being able to pull off a myriad of disguises is laughably unrealistic. But that’s all part of the game's conceit and is IO looking back and winking at the camera.
What hammers home the realism are the locations, all of which are detail-rich, look fantastic and load very fast on the PS5.
The recent Hitman games have nailed the globe-trotting nature of a high-end contract killer. But Hitman 3 builds upon it brilliantly.
Without giving too much away, you go from a Dubai skyscraper to the windswept expanse of England's Dartmoor, to warehouse raves, high-tech facilities, creepy laboratories, and dripping wet neon-lit streets. All these locations are stuffed with things to look at and do as you find a way to dispatch 47’s targets and seize emerging opportunities.
The game can direct you to such emergent situations leading you down a rabbit warren of steps to kill a target and escape unnoticed. But there's a lot of fun to be had turning off a lot of the user interface prompts and simply fighting things out.
There’s plenty of scope to be creative, such as overpowering a person with the power of your mind (kinda) to slapping people with a fish. It’s a darkly funny game too, expertly weaving a path between the perfect kill, a slapstick murder, and things going horribly wrong leading to absurd on-the-fly inventiveness.
The opportunity to go from surreptitious infiltration to farcical fumbling is a perfect example of stealth in real life; how many times have you sneaked up on a person only to have them turn around at the last minute? OK, that might just be me.
Licensed to kill
And that's why I’m pleased IO Interactive will be making a James Bond game under the working title of Project 007. As much as Bond is all about suave style and professional spying, he’s also a bit of a useless secret agent. Bond may expertly creep into a villain’s hideout, but he often ends up compromised and relying on gadgets to get him out of a sticky situation.
Hitman 3 is a little like that, only rather than gadgets you’ll end up braining an unfortunate civilian or innocent staffer, who just happened to spot you dumping an unconscious guard into a cupboard, with anything that comes to hand. Such items range from crowbars to gold bars and blocks of cocaine.
IO could take this formula and build upon it for Project 007. Especially if the developer leans into the Roger Moore-era Bond complete with gadgets that err more on the side of ridiculous than clandestine must have. For example, picture the crocodile submarine from Octopussy rather than Daniel Craig’s Bond with his smart Omega Seamaster.
The World of Assassination trilogy was also flush with plush bars, decadent shows and sun-drenched verandas, all regular haunts of 007. So it’s not hard to imagine IO bringing that attention to detail into a Bond game.
There’s no word on a release date for Project 007. So in the meantime, I recommend you give Hitman 3 a go. Even if you don’t decide to go for the whole World of Assassination trilogy, Hitman 3 is arguably the best entry in the series. It doesn't do much to add to the formula introduced in the 2016 game. But everything is refined to perfection making for a stealth game that as fun to play perfectly as it is to completely mess up.
I’ve not seen it firsthand on the Xbox Series X, but it apparently looks the best on Microsoft’s game console running at a native 4K and 60 frames per second. The PS5 tops out at a 1800p resolution but still runs at 60 fps and looks fantastic to my eyes.
With Sony’s console, you’re also getting the advantage of the DualSense controller with its adaptive haptics able to simulate resistance on gun triggers; I’ve said before that this can be a little jarring but once you get used to it, the feature is pretty clever.
People with powerful gaming PCs will get the best presentation of Hitman 3. But for those of you struggling to find a PS5 restock or finding where to buy the Xbox Series X , then Hitman 3 is also on the PS4 and Xbox One.
Regardless of the platform you play it on, I really suggest you give the Hitman 3 Starter Pack a go, even if it’s just to get a taste of what a future Bond game could be like.
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