Should we still present Hitman? The series born in 2000 offers an infiltration game in which the player plays a cold and efficient hitman, Agent 47, who will have to fulfill his missions as discreetly as possible. The title that interests us today, Hitman 3, is the third episode of a new series of Hitman games started in 2016 with a reboot of the saga going back to basics: an infiltration game, played in large open arenas. It is this recipe that IO will repeat with this Hitman 3, first true AAA of the year. Finally, “real” AAA, or camouflaged DLC?
(Hitman 3 review on PlayStation 4 made from a copy of the game provided by the publisher)
Hitman 2.5 ?
With Hitman version 2016, IO pushes the cursors of the “sandbox” type game to the full, leaving a great deal of freedom for the player to fulfill his contracts. Countless little stories play out in each level, each of them representing a more or less clear opportunity to get closer to the target. The game then consists of exploring the levels, observing and listening to the NPCs to find the loophole… “Monsieur” is about to have his lunch? We will sneak into the kitchen to pour laxative into the dish, then we will go and wait for him quietly in the bathroom where he will not fail to go …
Key to exploration and the game’s main gimmick: costumes. Depending on his NPC eliminations (whether lethal or not), 47 can don the costume of the character he has just discarded. This allows him to enter incognito places that would be forbidden to him, and to perform certain actions in full view of all without being immediately riddled with bullets.
Take the example of the poisoned dish: a clerk’s outfit will allow us to enter the kitchen without any problem, and tamper with the preparations, while as a gardener, or even with the black suit of 47, it would not be the same mayonnaise. (since we are in the kitchen, eh…).
Mechanics familiar to players who put the pads on Hitman version 2016 and Hitman 2, which succeeded him in 2018. Hitman 3 takes exactly the gameplay of its predecessors, right down to the controls, which are the same as in the first two games. This is also one of the problems of the title, which frankly approaches a big DLC.
“La compile 100% hits !”
A feeling reinforced by one of the yet excellent ideas of this episode: the hub that brings together the entire Hitman experience in one place. It is indeed possible, for those who have the first two episodes, to repatriate all the levels of Hitman 1 and 2 to this Hitman 3, to be able to play at any level of the saga by sharing its progress. The title is presented as the total Hitman experience, an option that should appeal to completists …
“But what is the point of coming out of old levels?”, The neophyte will ask himself. Is that in a Hitman, the main adventure, the scenario, is only valid as an introduction, almost a tutorial. There are two stages in the game. First of all, and this is the stage of the scenario, we have a first contact with the level, a first exploration. We will confine ourselves here to tracking down the target as best we can, while trying to remain as discreet as possible. We will also glean some information: there, characters who evoke a missing staff, here an NPC who transmits a code to a colleague …
So many tracks that we will have fun exploring, experimenting, in a second, third or fourth run. This is the wealth of Hitman: dozens of potential scenarios that we can, or not, trigger. Not to mention the opportunities that happen to us by chance, when, while looking for a shortcut, we come face to face with the target, or these ideas that we ourselves find a little stupid, but that we will test anyway: don’t we say that the bigger it is, the more it goes ?!
At the end of the mission, a checkerboard will represent all the scripts contained in the level, indicating those that we have discovered, and therefore those that remain to be discovered … And behind its infiltration game facade, the title will be just as much puzzle game, and even point’n click : a bit like those 2D games that made LucasArts famous, you have to find which object to associate with which place to advance in the enigma …
47, a guy without a story …
We will only be interested very little in the scenario, and it is fortunate as it is illegible. The narrative is just a pretext to wander around completely different environments, and the cutscenes were probably only put there so that we could put together a trailer that would blow your mind. Hitman 3, it’s pure video game, a little retro in its conception of the media, and which is not to be confused with the cinema: we are there for fun, and especially not to tell something, even if, of a a little meta way, we pretend.
Besides, the hero himself is completely transparent ; just graphically, it looks like it’s made of wax. He’s a golem with a mission, an empty shell. It will not have escaped anyone’s notice that he has no name, just a number.
In this context, the heart of the game are its levels and its particularly brilliant level design. And again, it will be a strength and a weakness of the title. For this third episode, six new places are given to us to visit. We start the adventure in Dubai, kingdom of bling-bling, but above all a big reference to Mission: Impossible, which initially places the ambitions of the game on the side of the blockbuster. Out of this signal sent to the players, the level is classic and without being bad, it does not offer much new compared to the first games.
The place to be
There are only two levels that give us a true successful Hitman experience. Chonqing, first of all, with its labyrinthine streets, its different vertical levels, and its hypersecure secret laboratories; it is a real pleasure to get lost in these changing atmospheres. It is also super satisfying to master the topography, and to go from the back shops in homeless clothes, to the cold lights of the secret labs via a trapdoor that we ourselves will have identified, and next to which we keep in mind. hot an armed guard costume!
The level is also tailor-made for the new consoles. Between the neon lights of the shopping streets, and the reflections in the puddles of rain, the urban landscapes are magnificent and it is a festival of (successful) treatment of light!
Second level at the height of the reputation of the series, Berlin, and its completely crazy club hidden at the foot of a power station. Here again, between the terraces, the technical rooms, the various club rooms, the wasteland… exploration enthusiasts will get their money’s worth! Not to mention that visiting such a place when IRL it is impossible for us to go out makes us even more amazed to imagine such an incredible club. And if we tell you that in addition, we can be a DJ …
Question brilliant place, the English manor of the second level arises there. A completely separate level in the saga, in which 47 will actually play a role, and not just don the costume. It will then be a question of carrying out an investigation Agatha Christie for a kind of really cool investigative mini-game, which contrasts with everything the series has to offer elsewhere.
The level arrives perhaps a little early in the adventure (it is the second), and, being the only one of its kind, also makes us half-word a promise that it will not keep: it is the only breath of novelty that we will be entitled to with Hitman 3.
There remains South America, and the last level, both a little too scripted, and much too short (it took us less than 20 minutes to complete Mendoza in maximum difficulty without being spotted once…). A little stingy content, therefore. Be careful, we have fun (and this is the main thing), and the replayability of the levels gives the game a good lifespan. But it’s hard to get rid of that feeling of dealing with an extension. Luxury, of course, but an extension all the same.
A mixed feeling, in which a general lack of difficulty participates, even at the maximum “Master” level. The challenges (“in costume”, in particular) will be there to heighten the challenge a little, but in a somewhat artificial way. Finally, we deplore a few bugs, but above all, and this is the defect that has damaged our enthusiasm the most, the game’s AI frankly lacks consistency.
By coherence, we mean the behavior of NPCs that makes you believe in it. From the first mission, the bodyguards of our target stupidly let us in with this one to the bathroom? In the last level, we put on an elite soldier costume with 3 headlights on the helmet, but the enemies do not see us behind an unfortunate crate, despite the luminous halo that illuminates the 15 kilometers around …
Finally, Hitman 3 still a good game, and a good Hitman. The sandbox side is present and leaves the field open to the imagination of the player. Graphically, even if the engine remains the same since the first episode, the game holds up well, and is very well optimized (we tested it on an old PlayStation 4 which had spat its lungs on the last big releases, and we found the fans here particularly quiet).
A few concerns taint the experience a bit, which ultimately turns out to be just a super-DLC. This is not a big problem in itself, it is even the soul of the game, released in 2016, as we recall, in an episodic format that stood. But a DLC sold for the price of a game, that can make cringe… Probably not to the fans of 47 that being, who will find with pleasure all that they like so much in the saga.