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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PS5 Review - 'Hitman III'

by Redmond Carolipio on Feb. 3, 2021 @ 12:00 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

One of the best things to happen to Hitman was its entry into the "World of Assassination" story arc. For me, 2016 was the year that Hitman went from a sort of darkly offbeat, "cool" stealth-action series into an event release that could sit near the top of many game libraries for the next few years. It accomplished this by doing something that sounds simple but is very difficult to, ahem, execute: It turned the dark art of death into a matter of play in the spirit of — dare I say — fun.

Hitman III is the latest incarnation of that morbid spirit, and those familiar with the past two games will know what to expect: a timeless, pick-and-choose, replayable mission structure; enough dramatic gravitas and lore for those who seek immersion; and just enough cheekiness and quirk to let the player know that IO Interactive is in on the joke.

Story-wise, there's an air of finality, but perhaps not the kind you might be thinking of. This is more like the closing of a major chapter in the world of Agent 47 and Diana Burnwood, his handler for most of his assassin career, instead of The End of Everything. The narrative of Hitman III focuses on the end of Providence, the seemingly omniscient Spectre-like organization that administers its world-altering power through its oligarchy of corporate titans, high-achieving shadowy power brokers, all-star international criminals, and straight-up wealthy people. The first couple of missions strike at the trio of people who serve as the head of the Providence leadership snake.

My favorite parts of the past several Hitman games, including this one, might be the mission briefings. They are smartly written and dynamically presented, and they do an outstanding job of establishing the backstory of all of Agent 47's targets while setting the tone and rules for the mission at hand and the larger tale. Each one is an example of good, crunchy world-building, and they take about a minute to pull you in.

In Hitman III for the PS5, however, it's the visuals that grab on to your eyes. Your first mission is in Dubai at a place called The Sceptre, billed as the tallest building in the world — so tall it pierces the clouds and keeps on going. After the briefing, prep and somewhat daring entry into the Sceptre's levels above the clouds, 47 (and you) are treated to the grand spectacle of entering the opulent main hall and witnessing the sun pouring in through the windows, light bouncing off gold columns, glass and marble flooring with gold trim, and some music that carries a Lawrence of Arabia-style tinge. You're basically in a modern palace, and I felt like the visual splendor was the game's way of saying, "Aw yeah, who got a PS5? You did!"

All of the Hitman III locales exhibit a clarity and beauty the series hasn't seen before, and it only helps add to the atmosphere of each mission, which low-key has made the World of Assassination trilogy the darkest travel show of all time. You've seen 47 all over the map, and the third installment has him going from Dubai to England to Chongqing, China. I found the back streets and cityscapes of neon-illuminated Chongqing to be my personal favorite when it comes to the eye candy. I felt like I was in "Blade Runner" for a hot second.

What also stood out to me are the minimal loading times on the PS5, which might not sound like a huge deal at the outset, but it's been a godsend for Hitman players like myself who've been sucked into the habitual vortex of trying to explore every possible story path within each mission (yes, there are still the multitudes of ways to kill your targets … that's basically the game), save frequently, and then reload an earlier save when someone catches you moving some cook's unconscious body or slapping a rear-naked choke on a security guard. The faster loading times made that process much more palatable, but it's still mystifying as to why there isn't a more efficient quicksave feature in this series yet.

I noticed and appreciated a few slight overall tonal shifts in Hitman III, especially when it comes to the pace of the story. One example is at an underground club in Berlin, where 47 tracks down and eliminates threats who are seeking out a past acquaintance of his among the thumping music and flashing lights. There's no briefing, story missions or prep: It's 47 hunting people who are trained and disguised to specifically handle him. This mission took a little longer than the others for me, but I enjoyed the challenge of the absence of prep. Watching 47 wade through a rave on the PS5 is not a sight I'll forget anytime soon. There's also another mission that requires the deft use of either 47's "instinct" feature or a quick trigger finger as he makes a possible car-by-car death march through a train full of enemies.

The targets throughout the game are wildly interesting but a little more tightly bundled in terms of theme. In the previous two games, 47 was asked to take out a wide range of people who embodied a variety of murky societal warts: entitled, murderous celebrities; corrupted scientists creating deadly viruses; evil fashion designers; and so on. In Hitman III, as 47 and Diana start closing the walls around Providence, the breadth of targets mostly involves people who breathe old-money air and use it to rule everyone, with a dash of dark futurism just so you don't get bored.

It's great to see the palette of creative ways to infiltrate, reach and take down targets is still as rich as ever. Hitman III's been out for a bit, but I won't spoil too much. I ordered a sniper to take out someone for me in a case of mistaken identity, killed two targets at the same time after setting up a confrontation between them, and one target hurled herself off the balcony of her own mansion in despair after I masqueraded as a PI and solved a murder-mystery reminiscent of "Knives Out." That was probably my favorite mission because there were several branching ways the mystery could have been used to my advantage.

I find it difficult to crawl much deeper into Hitman III because, truth be told, it's very similar to the first two games and expounds on what's proven to be an outstanding formula that's been explored and re-explored for many, many fun hours. This installment gives 47 a new toy: a camera that can hack and crack electronic locks, which adds a different and occasionally essential dimension to infiltration and extraction. This is the best the series has ever looked, and I encountered very little in the way of technical glitches in the couple dozen hours I've spent as 47. The music, also outstanding, would occasionally cut out, which would rob me of the rush you get when you get closer to an exit, but that's about it.

The 2016 Hitman was one of my favorite games of the year, and the same could be said for the follow-up. As I said before, it truly made assassination a game, and an extremely replayable one at that. Hitman III is an excellent third act, and it will probably stay as one of the more fun titles you can have in your early PS5 library.

Score: 8.5/10

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