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Hitman 3 PC review: Perhaps the VR version will be better

Agent 47 can turn his victims into wine, but is it enough?

Hitman 3
(Image: © IO Interactive)

Our Verdict

Hitman 3 continues to impress with striking, exotic locales that are perfect for stealthy murders, but it does not outdo previous installments.

For

  • Graphically impressive locations
  • High replayability
  • Murder plots designed from your creativity
  • Fun stealth mechanics

Against

  • Irksome bugs
  • Convoluted story

Hitman 3 on PC has arrived, giving you the opportunity to stealthily pulverize your target into a pile of flesh by shoving her into a massive grape grinder. Hell yeah! Between the blood and the red wine, nearby NPCs (tattlers who’ll rat you out if they spot your malicious deed) are none the wiser. Muhahaha!

It’s not as satisfying as the Hitman 2 mission that prompted gamers to push an old drug lord into a cocaine machine, but it'll do.

Hitman 3 whisks you away to picturesque cities such as Berlin, Dubai and Mendoza. The folks at IO Interactive rarely disappoint when it comes to Agent 47’s killing-spree locations. However, as much as I really, really want to sing this game’s praises (after all, Hitman is one of my favorite video-game series), I simply cannot due to its irksome bugs, exhausting missions and convoluted storylines.

This isn’t to say I didn’t enjoy Hitman 3, though. Hell, I’m going to play it again once I finish writing this review. It continues to offer what many gamers love about this badass assassin video-game series: the ability to use your own creativity to covertly kill your targets. Although Agent 47 carries a gun, you’re encouraged to find strategic ways to make your murders look like “freak accidents.” However, my disillusionment lies in expecting Hitman 3 to outdo the two previous installments — and well —  it didn’t. 

Perhaps I will enjoy Hitman 3 VR more as it offers something new and exciting, but the PC port just didn’t “melt my butter” like I thought it would.

Hitman 3: Gorgeous locations — even the slums look stunning 

Hitman is, hands down, one of the most visually stunning, graphically impressive games, thanks to the brilliant recreation of its exotic locales.  

Hitman 3

Hitman 3 review: Agent 47 in Dubai (Image credit: IO Interactive)

Hitman 3 continues IO Interactive’s tradition of leaving players awestruck with jaw-dropping settings in Dubai, UAE; Chongqing, China; Dartmoor, England; Berlin, Germany; Mendoza, Argentina; and the Carpathian Mountains, Romania.

The Dubai mission is dripping in luxury. Agent 47 doesn’t even use a door to enter his first building of Hitman 3’s campaign because, of course, doors are for peasants. Instead, he takes a page out of the Mission: Impossible playbook and skydives onto a skyscraper so high in the sky, you’re surrounded by clouds and hot-air balloons. The stunning interior takes your breath away with palatial marble flooring, velvet-covered staircases, gold-plated accents and sun-drenched rooms.

After Dubai, you’ll visit Dartmoor. This mission takes place inside an old, historic chateau that has a “stay away from this creepy place” vibe, but there’s something hauntingly beautiful about it.

Hitman 3

Hitman 3 review: Agent 47 inside Thornbridge manor (Image credit: IO Interactive)

With the infamous English fog hovering around the manor, the home emanates a sinister, ominous aura. The house, known as Thornbridge Manor, is like Netflix’s Bridgerton series, but in “dark mode.” Furnished with dramatic, Victorian-esque elegance, you’ll find intricately carved fireplaces and tufted, dark-cherry chaises, which adds to the manor’s creepy-beautiful feel.

Chongqing is the complete opposite of Dubai — it takes place in the slums, which is crawling with homeless NPCs seeking warmth from trash-can fires. 

Agent 47 in Chongqing

Hitman 3 review: Agent 47 in Chongqing  (Image credit: IO Interactive)

Somehow, it is still as eye-catching as wealth-drenched Dubai with gleaming wet sidewalks and neon-flashing lights from city shops. The art direction is reminiscent of the upcoming PS5 game, “Stray,” which also takes place in a gritty, neon-lit cybercity. 

Stray PS5

Stray (Image credit: PlayStation)

At the Berlin mission, you’ll be groovin’ to electronica beats at a nightclub — emphasis on you because we all know Agent 47 isn’t the shake-your-groove-thang type.  

Agent 47 in Berlin

Hitman 3 review: Agent 47 in Berlin (Image credit: IO Interactive)

This location isn’t as spectacular as the previous settings, but it has a magnetic nightlife energy that other places cannot match. I couldn’t help but feel hypnotized by the NPCs fist-bumpin’ away to techno. Berlin is also one of my favorite missions (I’ll explain later).

Mendoza is similar to Berlin in that its lively cultural spirit captivates you.

Agent 47 in Mendoza

Hitman 3 review: Agent 47 in Mendoza (Image credit: IO Interactive)

A few minutes into the mission, you’ll stumble across a dance floor with a bunch of hip-shaking Argentine tango dancers, and let me tell you, they are good! Lastly, after Mendoza, you’ll find yourself in the Carpathian Mountains. This location doesn’t really showcase its landscape, but it makes up for it by providing some serious butt-kicking action on a fast-moving train. 

Hitman 3: Same gameplay with a few tweaks

“Why fix it if it’s not broken?” seems to be the approach IO Interactive took with Hitman 3. The game doesn’t feel or look any different from the previous two games in the World of Assassin trilogy. Agent 47 still snatches disguises from innocent civilians to gain access into buildings. A white bubble still appears to warn you about “enforcers” (hawk-eyed NPCs who will call you out on your BS despite your disguise).  

Hitman 3 in Dubai

Hitman 3 review: Agent 47 (Image credit: IO Interactive)

Like previous games, a yellow warning signal appears when an enemy is suspicious of you (but if you run away in time, you can escape scot-free). You’ll still see the same bottom-left icon that informs you whether you’re being chased or attacked.

Scaling buildings, dumping bodies, hiding behind conveniently placed objects, and throwing coins to distract NPCs are other familiar stealth mechanics you’ll find in the third installment. At this point, you must be wondering, “OK, so what the heck is different about Hitman 3, then?” 

New tools in Hitman

Hitman 3

Hitman 3 review: Agent 47 with his camera (Image credit: IO Interactive)

The creators of Hitman 3 equipped Agent 47 with a new tool: a camera. The camera can be used to help a remote ally hack into computers, dig up more intel about peculiar items and more. For a mission story in Mendoza, one of my targets wanted me to “take care of” a prying, inquisitive journalist’”. He also wanted me to take a picture of the journalist after I incapacitated him for verification purposes. After putting the journalist to sleep with a chokehold, I took a picture of him, showed it to my target, and gained his trust, which provided me with the opportunity to kill him after isolating him in an empty room.

I wish there were more mission stories that used Agent 47’s camera. For example, there could be a mission in which you take a snapshot of your target having an illicit affair. You can place the incriminating evidence on the spouse’s desk, then watch him or her kill your target in a jealous rage without lifting a finger. There’s so much that Agent 47 could do with his camera, but it doesn’t reach its potential in Hitman 3.

Keypads in Hitman 3

Hitman 3 keypad (Image credit: IO Interactive)

Hitman 3: Mission stories could be more fun, but they're still enjoyable

While playing a Hitman campaign, you can choose to eliminate your targets with your own strategies (no guided help) or you can follow mission stories. Mission stories are predetermined murder paths used to fulfill objectives. For example, in Hitman 3, there’s a mission story in Mendoza that ends with a target getting pushed into a giant grape crusher. The mission story tells me exactly how to achieve this from A to B, including what disguises are needed and who to stalk.

There are truly some memorable, buzzworthy mission stories that won my heart in the Hitman series.

Hitman 2

Gone with the Wind mission story in Mumbai (Image credit: IO Interactive)

A mission story that sticks out is “Gone with the Wind” (Hitman 2). Agent 47 disguises himself as a Bollywood film crewman. His target is Dawood Rangan: a conceited, aspiring Bollywood actor and producer who uses his film business as a money-laundering vehicle. In Dawood’s final seconds of life, he tries to convince a repulsed Bollywood actress to kiss him, but just in the nick of time, Agent 47 turns on a giant fan that generates hurricane-like winds. Dawood is blown off the roof, and consequently, becomes “gone with the wind” as the mission’s namesake suggests. Haha!

I can’t really think of any memorable mission stories in Hitman 3 that meet that level of entertainment. The third installment does introduce new assassination concepts, especially in Chongqing. For example, in one Chongqing mission story, you can down a target by disguising yourself as a patient who sabotages an unethical human experiment. But in other locations, the mission stories lacked the shock value that previous Hitman games offered.

My favorite Hitman 3 mission story: The “grapest” murder of all

Agent 47 turned a woman into wine in a Mendoza mission story called “The Tour.” The badass assassin masquerades as a chief winemaker, giving the victim a tour of a vineyard and wine-manufacturing plant. When no one is looking, Agent 47 pushes the target into a grape-crushing machine — a gruesome death that lets you see the victim becoming “one” with the wine.

My least-favorite Hitman 3 mission story: They turned Hitman 3 into ‘Clue’

Dartmoor features a “whodunnit,” Sherlock Holmes-like mission story called “Means, Motive and Opportunity.” In this mission story, you’ll disguise yourself as a private investigator and figure out who murdered a poor ol’ chap in his bedroom. 

Hitman 3

Hitman 3 review: Agent 47 interrogating suspects (Image credit: IO Interactive)

Agent 47 spends most of his time interrogating stuffy, British suspects to establish alibis. The mission gives off a very “It was Colonel Mustard in the library with the candlestick!” feel à la the classic “Clue” board game. It felt very different from other Hitman 3 missions in that there’s no need to stealthily take anyone down — I just had to go around pressing “Y” for each suspect and listen to them prattle on about their “innocence.” It’s slow-paced, boring and exhausting. You also must search every nook and cranny for clues — and the manor is huge. On the plus side, at the Dartmoor location, you’re tasked with two assignments: kill a powerful matriarch and obtain a document. The “Means, Motive and Opportunity” mission story allows you to kill two birds with one stone.

It’s worth noting that there are locations in the game that do not have mission stories at all (you’ll see why when you play the game). Berlin is one of those locations, and it’s one of the few places in Hitman 3 that lets you ditch the stealth mechanics in favor of a shoot-out where you can blow your enemies’ brains out! Heck yeah! Berlin is definitely one of my favorite missions.

Hitman 3 in Berlin

Hitman 3 review: Agent 47 in Berlin (Image credit: IO Interactive)

Hitman 3: Convoluted storyline, but heart-stirring ending

I’m not at liberty to discuss major Hitman 3 plot details and I’m totally OK with that — I don’t understand most of it anyway. The story of Agent 47 and his dealings with the ICA (a global conglomerate of hitmen and professional assassins who service the elite) has always gone over my head. There are too many adversaries in Agent 47’s world, from hackers, infiltrators and traitors to mobsters, drug lords and shady financiers. It’s hard to keep track.

In Hitman 3, I often found myself not knowing why I was killing a particular target because the stories explained in the cutscenes are a bit complex. Truthfully, it feels as if the writers come up with outlandish, standalone murder plots and then struggle to tie it back into the Agent 47 storyline, which is why it can sound convoluted. 

On the plus side, I found Hitman 3’s shocking ending to be captivating and unpredictable. One aspect of the storyline deserving of a standing ovation is that you’ll never know which side of the fence Agent 47’s “allies” are on. One minute, you’ll think Agent 47’s allies are on his side, and the next, you’ll be questioning their loyalty.

Hitman 3: How it runs on PC 

I reviewed Hitman 3 on the Razer Blade 15 (Advanced Edition) gaming laptop, which comes with an Intel Core i7-10875H CPU, 16GB of RAM, and an Nvidia RTX 2080 Super Max-Q GPU with 8GB of VRAM. When I cranked up all the graphics settings to Ultra, Hitman 3 played smoothly at first (35 to 45 frames per second), but after a few hours, I noticed some major frame-rate drops (11 fps to 14 fps), which is likely due to thermal throttling. 

The minimum requirements for a system to run Hitman 3 include an Intel Core i5-2500K CPU or AMD Phenom II X4 940 CPU, an Nvidia GeForce GTX 660 GPU or AMD Radeon HD 7870 GPU and 8GB of RAM. Meanwhile, the recommended specs require an Intel Core i7-4790 CPU, an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 GPU or AMD Radeon RX Vega 56 GPU and 16GB of RAM. 

Irksome bugs 

Hitman 3 has a bug-infestation problem, but hopefully, with a few easy patches, it can be rectified. Here’s an example of a bug I encountered: While completing a mission story in Chongqing, I was pretending to be an ICA client and following a woman who was giving me a tour of the top-secret agency. At one point, I had to allow myself to be frisked by security officers. 

Typically, if you choose to run past the soldiers without getting frisked, you’ll be branded as a trespasser and shot at. In the game, I got patted down by the officers, and although they said I was free to go, I was still chased down the moment I stepped foot inside the facility. I had to run back into the “safe zone,” get re-frisked, and finally, I was cleared to enter. It shouldn’t be like that — the first frisk should have gotten me into the building.

I’ve had similar experiences with other missions — I’d have the right disguise that gives me clearance to be in a location, but I’d still get hunted by NPCs. Weird!

Another frustrating bug on Hitman 3 is the disappearance of the diamond-shaped, green light bulb hints. 

Hitman 3

Hitman 3 review: The useful green marker (Image credit: IO Interactive)

When you’re playing a mission story, these hints point you in the direction of where you can find disguises, weapons, assassination targets, locations and more. Hitman 3’s maps can be intricate and wide-reaching, so I find these hints to be useful time savers. Unfortunately, there are times when they do not appear, leaving me feeling lost and confused as to where my next objective is located. For example, in Chongqing, I was prompted to find a homeless shelter, but because the green hint was missing, it took me quite a while to find it.

Bottom line 

I have mixed feelings about Hitman 3. On one hand, it has many incredible, praise-worthy qualities, including its high replayability aspect, jaw-dropping locations, heart-stirring soundtrack, suspense-building stealth mechanics, and a sandbox-based world that tests your murderous creativity. But on the other hand, I wanted more “oomph!” 

I was really excited about the launch of Hitman 3; I was expecting the locations to outdo places like Marrakech and Sapienza, I was praying for hilariously entertaining mission stories, and I was anticipating new “X factors” that would help the third installment stand out from from the rest, but the game didn’t meet my high expectations.

I’m almost certain the folks at IO Interactive said, “Our formula works. People love it. Why change it? We’ll tweak things here and there — hell, we’ll throw in a camera for Agent 47 — but there’s no need to go crazy.” So would I recommend Hitman 3 for PC? Yes, I would, but I would advise people to adjust their expectations. It won’t blow you out of the water or anything, but if you’re a Hitman fan, you’ll find it to be just as addicting as previous Hitman games.