Welcome everybody to another brand new post on the Hitman trilogy. In today’s post we are going through IO Interactive’s latest entry to the Hitman series, Hitman 3. We are going to understand how it compares both visually and from a gameplay perspective to the previous installment in the series, Hitman 2. For reference, both games have been compared for PC. Let’s kick off this comparison now!
Hitman 2 and 3: Graphics and Gameplay Compared
Graphics and Visual Display(H2 vs. H3)
Agent 47 Visuals
Let us start with a closer look at Agent 47 himself. Agent 47’s suit is now sporting nice, high resolution textures. Also some added details like stitching along his lapel and a boutonniere. His tie has also been changed a little bit, appearing wider with a larger knot with a widened collar. Then there’s 47’s actual face. This was an interesting change as I feel that they toned down the amount of detail a bit. It almost makes him seem younger as a result. His jawline is now more rounded, his cheeks are not quite as sunken. The lines extending from his nostrils to his upper lip are almost impossible to see now.
The developers even adjusted the coloration of 47’s eyes, making them light blue instead of the purple hue they had before. Some really fine details like the skin pores and the smaller veins in his cornea are less prominent this time. This may have been due to the lighting adjustments that were made in Hitman 3. I am not certain that these missing extra details are necessarily an improvement but 47 looks much younger now. We are certainly curious about what you guys think. You will probably stare at the barcode on the back of his head more, so let us now move on to some other aspects of the environment.
Other Aspects of the Environment
Hitman 3 includes a slew of new environments to explore. With tons of unique assassination opportunities and infiltration methods that will surely keep completionists busy for a good while. IO Interactive has allowed Hitman 2016 and Hitman 2 levels to be played in Hitman 3. Now at first glance these levels are virtually identical. But we did run into a few interesting changes that have been made. These are likely to be a result of the updates IO has been making to their Glacier engine. First off, there’s the image sharpening. Back in 2019, AMD added their new Fidelity FX sharpening to Hitman 2. According to the description in the game’s settings it helps to counter the effects caused by temporal anti-aliasing. Images look more blurrier in Hitman 3, as it does not offer the same sharpening option in its graphics menu.
This is especially noticeable when looking at the trees in the suburbs level. With all the yellow leaves blending together more than they ever did before. Now that being said, the actual texture maps themselves are identical between the two games. I looked at several different surfaces in many of the different levels. Everything appears with that same great quality. I was often surprised by just how detailed the tiny objects in the environment are. There are newspapers with actual legible fingerprints on it. The only fall, was this one distant skyscraper in Miami that for whatever reason looked like its textures didn’t load in properly. It had a flat, blurry surface as opposed to the nicely detailed windows from before. The building next to it looks identical though. So I’m convinced that this is just a minor map loading error rather than an intentional change.
Moving on, we have the lighting design. Now when I first started testing this game’s lighting, I had trouble finding anything that looked all that different. The coloration of every level looks identical. The same, often excessive, bloom effect still presents itself in all the same places. But I was surprised to find that, one of Hitman 3’s biggest technical improvements actually comes from its newly expanded screen space reflections. Now Hitman 2 did feature screen space reflections. Especially with its larger bodies of water. But in Hitman 3 the reflections can be found everywhere. From the marbled floors of a lounge area in Paris, to the small neon-lit staircase in Miami.
All surfaces that should be reflective now offer some form of screen space reflections. They are not the same as the ray-trace reflections that have become so increasingly popular with the new consoles. It still adds a great deal to a lot of these scenes. What’s more, other reflections in the game like the mirrors introduced in Hitman 3 have been improved further. They have a higher resolution image to make the effect more convincing. Another big improvement has been made to the God-ray implementation. While not quite as noticeable as the reflections due to only a few maps offering the necessary lighting conditions. The god rays and Hitman 3 are much more impressive. There are smaller but more numerous rays of light pouring in through tree leaves and the windows in the side room. The ambient lighting in the room also feels a great deal different.
Next up we have the shadows. Now this aspect is a bit more challenging to judge. The shadow projections were already pretty decent in Hitman 2. From my observations, they don’t seem to have changed much at all. The edges of 47’s shadow are nicely rounded with a little bit of edge shimmer that’s barely noticeable. All the environmental shadows, even the shadows cast by birds flying above, still behave in exactly the same way. However, for some reason, the shadows cast by the 3D grass objects, like those in Miami, are now practically non-existent in Hitman 3. It makes the patch of grass feel a little bit less dense as a result.
Then of course we have the effects. For the most part, the effects remain nearly the same between the two games. The fire effects have been improved slightly. The explosions have been modified to feature this new bright, flashing bloom effect, rather than the large plume of smoke like before. But otherwise a lot of these effects look the same. This isn’t necessarily a bad effect either. The effects in Hitman 2 were pretty good, especially the water simulation.
All the rolling waves and the beautiful water fountains have been carried over directly. They have even been incorporated into the newer levels as well. Dubai for example, has this fantastic upper walkway that not only shows off the updated screen space reflections but also has this great high quality splashing effect when Agent 47 runs through it. The very same effect that can be observed in Hitman 2 while walking through shallow puddles.
Then there’s of course the crowds that continued to be one of the most impressive looking crowds in the industry. With enough distinct character variety to never fully break the illusion. All these NPC’s have been carried over exactly the same from the last game as their placement is paramount to how players play each level. It doesn’t seem that many of them have changed visually either.
Next up, let’s talk briefly about the gameplay mechanics. Now I haven’t been able to play the full game yet but there are a few interesting gameplay aspects which are worth sharing.
First off, there’s the new intro sequences. According to IO Interactive levels will now offer more cinematic intro sequences to help add a bit more intensity to the game’s climactic narrative. In the Dubai mission for example, you’ll start off at the edge of a building with a special getup. Then you need to climb around carefully the building’s exterior before smoothly sneaking inside and blending into the crowd. Its a cool way to start off a new level. Thankfully once you’ve done it the first time, it becomes entirely optional as a new start location is added that drops you off right at the end of the scripted sequence.
Next there’s the new gadget, the camera. This plays a pretty decent role in the game now. It can not only be used to snap the photos of objectives like neutralized targets, but it can also be used to remotely hack objects in the environment. In Dubai for example, you can use the camera to open up electronic window panels allowing you to travel outside. You can even create distractions to bypass patrols. Since it is a permanent addition to 47’s inventory, it may have other uses in the later stages of the game.
Then there’s the new persistent shortcuts. These are things that players can interact with in their environment that will unlock access routes and paths on repeat playthroughs. This I think is a nice touch. As it was always tedious to replay levels and earn additional gears and achievements only to take the long and repetitive path to reach the same objective areas. But now things like these ladders should alleviate some of that headache and make it more fun to find new ways to take down your targets.
There are also some other new features and menu options which we will include in a later post.
Overall Hitman 3 offers quite a few subtle changes under the hood. They are really hard to pick up on if you’re not comparing the game side by side. Hitman 3 promises an immersive experience. Be sure to follow all our new updates on the game. That’s all we have for you now. Thank you for reading!