Wednesday, September 7, 2022

Hitman 3: Ambrose Island (DLC)

Note: The following review contains spoilers for the Hitman World of Assassination Trilogy.

After about eighteen months of single-player content focused largely on Elusive Targets, Contracts and weapon variations, IO Interactive finally added a new level, Ambrose Island, to Hitman 3 in a free update. As someone who enjoyed the base Hitman 3, the announcement of Ambrose Island intrigued me, partly because it acted as a sign that IOI had finally decided to add more meaningful content to increase player retention instead of timed missions. Although Ambrose Island doesn’t actually last that long, it’s still a great step in the right direction for any future Hitman 3 content.

During the events of Hitman 2 (2018), before the mission “The Ark Society”, Lucas Grey asks Agent 47 and Diana for help dealing with a problem within his militia. A man named Noel Crest and his men have gone rogue and rather than cease attacks on Providence assets, they have formed a gang of thieves, committing heists around the globe with little regard for collateral damage. Crest’s latest heist has taken him to Ambrose Island, where he had teamed up with local pirates to steal a control unit for one of Ether’s information satellites. Crest plans to extort Ether with the satellite’s information, which would give Providence reason to view the militia as a continuing threat and impede Grey’s plan to capture the Constant. It is now up to 47 to eliminate Crest and disable the control unit, as well as eliminate Crest’s partner, Sinhi "Akka" Venthan, to provide a cover story for the ICA.

Right off the bat, setting the mission, “Shadows in the Water”, during the events of Hitman 2 instead of Hitman 3 was a great call. Hitman 2 has a convenient point in time where this mission could take place, whereas Hitman 3 does not due to its generally more serialized story and numerous changes to the status quo. The mission itself is written pretty well, subtly providing information on the ground while trusting that the player can figure out how that affects their approach to the targets. Though this is a move that makes up for the lack of any Mission Stories, it’s still very effective. Based on my natural curiosity while scoping out the island for the first time, I also ran into a special appearance from a recurring Hitman character that not only acts as great fanservice for longtime fans, but is even involved in one method for killing one of the targets. As an added bonus, you can find hidden diary entries around the island that provide an explanation for why this character is there.

Setting the mission during Hitman 2 (2018) works really well.

Accessing Ambrose Island is easily done through the Destinations tab, as opposed to the Campaigns tab. Although the island’s singular mission doesn’t add any major twists to Hitman 3’s gameplay, “Shadows in the Water” is pretty fun, with plenty of flexibility in fulfilling the objectives. Even without the Mission Stories, there are plenty of unique and interesting assassination opportunities that feel satisfying to figure out and the tools necessary for completing one of the objectives are pretty close by. It doesn’t take long to complete the mission, under an hour even with the default loadout, but I loved how Ambrose Island felt like a fully realized level with a great amount of replay value that increases as you learn new information that can help increase your Location Mastery later.

While the graphics and audio are as stunning as the base game, I did run into this odd and rather funny glitch during my first playthrough. Before finding a certain key, I used a crowbar to open a door to a hut that contained a Chef disguise. After opening the door, a female NPC on the other side of the hut opened the door next to her to investigate the noise 47 had made. However, she flew into the air when she reached the door and came back down on the other side near the door she was supposed to investigate, as though she had walked on top of the hut. After completing her investigation, she walked back through the hut as though nothing had happened and went back to her starting point. I didn’t run into any other significant glitches while playing, but this one really stood out.

If you already own Hitman 3, there’s no reason not to explore Ambrose Island. Hopefully we can see more DLC like this in the future to encourage further revisits to the world of Agent 47 and maybe even see some interesting side content in this new setting.

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