The first two levels of Hitman 3 are more of what the series has done very well, with even more creative intrigue.
We've now published our full Hitman 3 review. Check it out for a look at the entire game.
The first mission of Hitman 3, set in Dubai, feels like it could have been lifted from a movie. In fact, it would be right at home in Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, as it starts with Agent 47 dropping onto a towering skyscraper, slipping in through a window, and donning a debonair disguise to infiltrate a party full of rich revelers. All that's missing is Ving Rhames.
For its third game, Hitman 3 isn't changing the formula that made the first two titles so much fun. Each of its missions is a huge, clockwork-like contraption of various characters wandering here and there, which can be disrupted through often-weird, novel killing methods. Since Hitman 3 allows you to pull in the missions from 2016's Hitman and 2018's Hitman 2 (just like you could merge the first two games), the foundation is familiar. But it does feel like IO Interactive is amping up the inventiveness of the how, where, and whys of its assassinations.
The Dubai mission stands out for its spectacle--you'll spend some time climbing around the outside of the skyscraper and venturing through its huge glass atriums--as well as its level design. The place is mostly vertical, with large areas that are open to the public and tighter back hallways frequented only by security and wait staff. A lot of the challenge of the level is in finding your way around, figuring out how to physically get in position to take on the level's pair of heavily guarded targets. Sure, you might be able to see them at the party, but how can you get to them in a way that'll allow you to escape unseen in the end?
As with the rest of the series' missions, Hitman 3's first level has a lot of different ways you can finish it. You can engineer situations that will allow you to take down each of your two targets separately, or find a way to get them together for a more efficient, up close and personal end. As is usually the case, there are several story-heavy solutions, if you should overhear the right conversations and pick up the right clues.
The most straightforward solution to taking out your targets in Dubai is to find a way into the building's server room, where you can hack in to send the two marked VIPs to a secure room where you won't be disturbed. But actually pulling off that setup is tough--you first have to locate the server room, then get inside without being spotted, and pull off the hack without being caught. It's not especially easy, in fact; when Agent 47 botched the hack in my playthrough, I found myself fighting my way out as two armed guards charged through the door. As reinforcements came, I hid in a nearby closet until the dust cleared. To finally finish with the server room, I had to lose my pursuers, acquire a new disguise, and circle all the way back around to the room to finish the job. Taking out the two targets at the end of the level, after luring them to a locked room, was relatively easy.
Another solution unlocks after 47 identifies another assassin among the party attendees. By taking him out and stealing his clothes, you can take his place in the meeting with one of the targets and accept another, separate assassination job to take out a journalist. Complete that job (you don't have to kill the hapless journalist so long as you make it look like you did), and you get a meeting with the target that might give you an opening to complete your own job. When you're finished in the skyscraper, you get another Mission Impossible-esque moment, leaping off the side and parachuting to the ground to make your escape.
The second mission, however, is an even better showcase of how Hitman 3 is trying to evolve the series. It takes place in an English mansion with a scenario straight out of Agatha Christie. Agent 47 heads to the mansion to take out the matriarch of a rich family, and you can take the straightforward approach to do so. But another murder has just taken place in the mansion, and in order to get close to your target, you can impersonate the private detective summoned to solve the case--and then solve it yourself.
While 47 is charged with an assassination in the mansion, he also is searching for additional intelligence that's hidden on the grounds, so investigating a murder is a pretty good pretext to try to find the file of info that's also on your agenda. But you can fully solve the case by locating various clues scattered around the mansion. I got fully invested in the murder mystery, questioning each member of the family to pin down their alibis and uncover their potential motives. It's not as involved as a full detective game, of course, but there's a lot going on in the case.
The best part, however, is the mystery's solution. You're supposed to present your findings to the target in the end, which can get you close to the woman to complete your own job. But solving the murder uncovers a bunch of additional information about the family. You get multiple options for presenting your findings, which suggests you can manipulate the situation by pointing the finger at the wrong suspect, or maybe even give the actual murderer an opportunity to kill again. The mission adds a Hitman spin to a detective story by throwing an assassination in the background, creating a fun, fascinating combination that fleshes out the mission's characters and makes them feel more alive.
All that to say that in its first two levels, Hitman 3 adds even more imaginative complexity to its big and intricate levels. It might not be shaking up the formula that has served the series well in its last two installments, but playing through these two missions suggests IO still has a lot of new ideas up its sleeve. The best part of Hitman is the way IO has found ways to stretch its premise to include so much variety, and with Hitman 3, the developer seems to be going even further than it has in the past.