Novelty for connoisseurs
The changes that Hitman 3 makes to the proven gameplay formula are so slim that if you don't point the finger at them, only the most ardent fans will notice the difference. The first is the addition of a portable camera to Agent 47's inventory. Although the device is mainly used, as you might expect, to capture special moments, IO Interactive has made sure that it is also used in gameplay and, for example, in Dubai, scanning designated locks allows the supporting agent to open them remotely. In Dartmoor, however, the gadget comes in handy during the investigation – but more on that in a moment. Despite these strenuous attempts to make the camera as useful as possible, it still remained barely a curiosity during gameplay, the absence of which would not affect the game in any significant way.
The second new feature is the inclusion of shortcuts on fresh maps, which become available in subsequent approaches once unlocked – for example, a ladder that can only be opened from the top to easily bypass security. This new feature is a sort of homage to players who squeeze everything they can out of maps, but again, it doesn't affect gameplay in a major way. That's the end of the list of changes I've seen and noted – it's clear that IO Interactive didn't want to excessively mess with a successful and popular formula. And I was absolutely fine with that.
The PlayStation 4 version of Hitman 3 will also offer full support for virtual reality goggles – with their help, we'll be able to explore every map (including those from previous installments, if we get access to them, of course) and complete every mission, this time looking our targets straight in the eye. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to test this variant of the game in practice, because the pre-release version was made available to me on a PC – and this platform doesn't offer VR mode.
From the top of the world to six feet under
The preview included the first two missions of Hitman 3, set in Dubai and Dartmoor. Contrasting locations let you see the different facets of the game. The Dubai skyscraper is filled with crowds and every step we take, we are treated to impressive views, while the English residence focuses on intimacy and grayish style, building a gloomy atmosphere straight out of a crime novel. Nice.
Though the mechanics and gameplay assumptions have not changed, the developers decided to make the missions a bit more cinematic this time, which is obvious from the first moments in Dubai. Before we get to the actual skyscraper, we first have to make a linear climb up the outer beams of the steel structure, during which we not only learn the basics of the controls – the camera peels off the protagonist in order to better present the scale of the building. Similar tricks occur later on as well – accentuating the transition to the actual interior part of the structure with music, or another camera angle to show the scale of one of the larger halls actually make the task much more cinematic. Such bells and whistles are, fortunately used in moderation and thus achieve the intended effect, emphasizing the feel of an exclusive skyscraper. It's a detail that makes exploring the locations more enjoyable.
The Dubai map is somewhat reminiscent of a blend of Paris from season one and Miami from season two of Hitman. 47 commits the assassinations in the midst of a large, public event, where the lavish main hall is filled with crowds of civilians, the servants trying to control the organizational chaos in the much less luxurious back rooms, and on the restricted floors, the VIPs do what they do best – plot intrigues. During the infiltration, however, I didn't feel I was being served the same thing yet again, as the skyscraper differs from the aforementioned locations in its strong verticality, as skyscrapers do. The game takes place over the space of as many as six floors, but at the first attempt, we start on the lowest one and gradually have to climb up, facing increased security.
A slight disappointment was the number of feature assassination opportunities – the map in Dubai offers barely three. Admittedly, they all maintain good quality, and one is even overly complex and lengthy, but that's still fewer than usual. It's a pity that IO Interactive didn't try to include a bit more scenarios, since the map could definitely accommodate them. Fortunately, the number of possible assassinations hidden in Dubai, which we have to figure out on our own, is very satisfying and fans of the series will spend a lot of memorable moments here.