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PlayStation VR Reviews

Review: Hitman 3 – PSVR

The PSVR is in a weird place. It’s at the end of its lifecycle, but there are no concrete answers from Sony as to what, if anything, will take its place. I still think Sony will eventually announce the PSVR 2, but the signals they are sending since the release of the PS5 are murky at best. Consider that the PSVR started out by recycling controllers from a previous generation. And now with the release of the PS5, we need an adaptor to recycle a camera from the PS4. And we’re still using those controllers from two generations ago! I understand Sony’s decision to only dip their toe into the VR realm initially, but now it’s probably time for them to either commit or cut their losses. For what it’s worth (very little), I think we’ll get a PSVR 2, and I think it will be great. Sony, if you’re listening, make it wireless and for the love of God, don’t forget the analog sticks this time.

But what’s this? A triple-A port of a brand new game? It appears the first PSVR isn’t dead yet. That’s right, we’re here to take a look at Hitman 3 on the PSVR. So grab those twin ballers and follow me.

Aside from a few side missions, the entire rebooted Hitman trilogy is now available to play in VR making it easily one of the most content-rich VR experiences on any platform. Even if it was only Hitman 3, it would still be a great value. And to be clear, you still have to buy Hitman 1 and 2 to play them, but if you do, you can now play them in VR!

Hitman 3 has six levels that make up the campaign. You’ll start out at the tallest building in Dubai before you move onto a sprawling Eglish country estate. After you solve that mystery, you’ll treat yourself to a night at an underground dance club packed with sweaty Germans and 11 trained killers looking to kill you, before heading to the rainwashed cyberpunk inspired city of Chongqing. You’ll finish your journey at a winery in Argentina before you arrive at a slightly more linear mission in the Carpathian mountains.

That last mission is a bit of a surprise that I won’t get into but here, the five previous missions are designed as large sandboxes with countless ways to complete. And if you’ve ever played any of the Hitman titles, you know that is what makes them so fun. The many dastardly, and often hilarious ways Agent 47 can dispatch his targets makes replaying each mission feel fresh and sometimes even more fun the second time around. Every time I see an electrical outlet that I can tamper with, I wonder what type of shenanigans I can get into now. Honestly, some levels feel like the opportunity to kill your targets is around every corner. There may be a million ways to die, but that doesn’t make the game easy. As with all Hitman games, it’s all about hiding in plain sight, striking fast, and escaping before anybody even knows that something went wrong. It’s a formula that IO Interactive has perfected over the years.

I can honestly say that I enjoyed playing each mission, and I’m having a hard time picking a favorite. But how does all of that work in VR? It works pretty well, actually. It supports the Dual Shock 4 only as IOI settled on a hybrid motion system that allows some bare minimum motion controls while allowing the use of the DS4’s analog sticks for free movement. Using the light tracking on your DS4, you can aim your weapons, push open doors, punch out any NPC that rubs you the wrong way, or raise your hands to their throat so you can choke them to sleep. For any of this to work, you’ll need to be facing forward while not moving too far to please your forward-facing camera, but veteran PSVR players know the drill. Its limitations are known and many, so I won’t hit you over the head with them now.

Using the Dual Shock 4 means you only have one tracked hand, which allows for the aforementioned bare minimum motion controls but is awkward everywhere else. By default, your untracked left hand will remain in the vicinity of your right hand as if agent 47 is holding his very own Dual Shock. I chose to remove that in the settings meaning your left hand will only appear when you attempt an act that would facilitate the second hand. Such as choking, using the fibre wire, or running. This did slightly improve immersion for me, despite some serious disconnects. Like when you’re running, the game will simulate agent 47 pumping his left arm in a realistic running motion, but your right arm is still being tracked by the DS4. So while running only your left arm is swinging up and down unless you want to manually pump your right arm in rhythm, which I absolutely did. I made it like a Hitman running minigame, and it offered me several minutes of good times … and it’s way harder than it sounds.

As I mentioned in my First Look of Hitman 3 on PSVR, the awkward inventory system is, well, awkward. When you have an item in your hand, you’ll need to place that item in a circle that hovers around your belly button. This circle expands when you have the item in just the right spot, signifying when you can safely drop the item. This system is similar to most other first-person VR games that, for example, let you drop your pistol in the general location of the holster on your hip. The difference here is that those are typically 360 degree systems, which means your hip moves when you do. With the PSVR’s single camera, your inventory circle doesn’t move with you but stays stationary. So if you’ve moved during the heat of battle, good luck stowing that weapon quickly before the guards see you. I appreciate the developers trying to utilize the motion controls as much as possible, but this should have been one action that they mapped to a button press. It’s possible that PSVR only players won’t have as much problem with this as me.

I played the game on an original PS4 and it is one of the best, if not the best looking PSVR games I can remember. That being said, the pop-in is constant and will be distracting for many gamers. Empty wine glasses will suddenly fill up, and groups of people will double and triple in size as you walk closer. It didn’t take away my enjoyment in the least, but graphical issues don’t usually bother me much if I otherwise enjoy the game. My last big complaint with the VR version is that the grid that pops up on the screen when you get close to the boundary is extremely sensitive. I had my camera placed above me pointing down and that works great for literally every game I own. Until now. I spent an hour trying to get that to work, but the grid was either on-screen constantly or at the slightest movement. To make Hitman 3 work at all, I had to place the camera below the tv and sit down to play. Sitting down to play and holding a videogame controller is not the most immersive environment.

To be blunt, Hitman 3 in VR is clunky as hell with the Dual Shock 4, but I still grew to love it. I played for hours at a time and can now say I prefer it in VR over the PS5. But with that being said, Sony’s brand of VR needs to move beyond this rudimentary control and camera options soon. With titles like Half-Life: Alyx and The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners offering immersive (and consistent) motion tracking and realistic physics-based combat, these PSVR limits are becoming impossible to overlook. But until then, the Hitman trilogy, and specifically Hitman 3, is a can’t miss title on PSVR.

Hitman 3 PSVR Review
  • Overall - Fantastic - 8.5/10
    8.5/10
8.5/10

Summary

Hitman 3 does enough right that I mostly managed to forget how hard it is to sit still and face one camera. But seriously, the six levels are so fun to play that it would be practically impossible for this not to have worked. It looks really good even on a regular PS4 despite the constant pop-in, and it sounds great too. The only real complaints I have are system-related inadequacies that are no fault of the developers. If you have a PSVR and even a passing interest in the Hitman universe, you have to play this game.

Pros

  • Incredibly fun and full-sized campaign
  • You can now play Hitman 1 and 2 in VR as well
  • Replayability is ridiculously high
  • Looks and sounds great despite consistent pop-in

Cons

  • Support for only the Dual Shock 4 leaves gamers with serious limitations
  • Jarring pop-in will be extremely distracting for some players

Review Disclaimer: This review was carried out using a copy of the game bought at the expense of the reviewer. For more information, please read our Review Policy

Reviewed using PSVR.

For more VR reviews, be sure to check out our Reviews section, as well as our friends over on VR Game Critic.

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