Hitman 3: The Kotaku Review

Hitman 3 made me care more about its plot than crafting the perfect murder. The narrative, which I usually see as a flimsy excuse to play dress-up and cause globe-spanning mayhem, bleeds into the structure of its levels and creates some unexpected moments of emotion and vulnerability. Its dark story plays with the lie at the heart of Hitman’s gameplay: Agent 47 can easily slip into the life of a waiter, or a musician, or a model, but who is he really, and who, if anyone, does he want to be?

Hitman has always been a weird blend of humor and darkness, a series where an end-of-mission score lures you toward perfection while the game itself lets you bumble around doing whatever you want. It’s hilarious and satisfying to drown a target in a toilet after they get sick off food you poisoned, or watch their body fly into the air after they strike an exploding golf ball you planted. But that stands alongside the fact that, as Agent 47, you play as a cruel, dishonest man who will kill whoever he’s told to further the interests of the powerful, shadowy figures who call the shots. Hitman games feel classier than might be imagined if you explained their title and premise to someone who doesn’t play games, but their stealth elegance covers up what is, at its core, an ugly fantasy of power and violence. They make me feel smart, but the pleasure I find in them feels gross to justify.

Developers at IO Interactive have called Hitman 3 the end of the modern trilogy, and as such, they seem to face these contradictions of the series head on in this game, stripping away characters’ justifications and forcing them to take an honest look at themselves and their actions. For a lot of the game, I didn’t lose myself in a Hitman fantasy of parties, mastery, and bloodshed. I felt distinctly like I was playing as Agent 47, with all the pain and darkness someone who lives in a world of murder would inevitably bring crashing down on themselves.

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