Yes, I do have an opinion of the Beretta's 96 models, the ones that come in .40. But, I don't want to offend any folks on here, so I will just say that you might want to look at the Taurus knock off instead. It's going to be cheaper and it will have a lifetime warranty should something go wrong.
I would suggest going to a local range and renting some of the range guns to see what feels good. The only problem will be, I don't know of too many places that stock Hi Power's and units like that.
As for the Hi Power Mark III or the Standard:
There aren't too many differences between these two production units. I would imagine there are some subtle internals that are different, but they are not listed. The Standard has adjustable sights and a polished finish. I don't care for adjustable sights on a pistol, I have never seen the true need for them to be honest. As for the finish, well, that is up for debate by the person buying the pistol. On the surface, I don't think they are THAT
Now, there will be a difference between both these models and the original Hi-Powers, but some of that is good and some of that is not so good, so I wouldn't sweat it. It's the same basic design, it's the same platform, it's the same action and it has been a great pistol for many, many years....
Outside of that, have you looked at 1911 models?