With the release of the first installment of the all-new episodic Hitman, we thought it would be a good time to reflect on the series and find out what we love about Agent 47 through the years. Let’s see how they stack up in terms of their contribution to the franchise. Hitman (2016) was not considered for this list because we have merely got a taste of it so far with the Intro Pack. The signs appear to be good, however, and we could very well be forced to make adjustments to our top-five once the final episode is out.
5. Hitman: Absolution
Absolution at its best was a great game. It did a phenomenal job, in particular with rendering large crowds, and the levels which were open and had an emphasis on sandbox gameplay were really a lot of fun to play. However, its creators chose to prioritise the wrong type of narrative, with linear missions, poor writing and eccentric, uninteresting characters.
4. Hitman: Contracts
Contracts arguably offered players the most number of ways to play a Hitman game. You could literally play it as a shooter, gunning everyone down in brutal fashion, or employ stealth instead of disguises, or even orchestrate elaborate accidental deaths. The downside was that, in this quest for carnage, the game seemed to have lost its soul. It continued to reward stealthy gameplay but didn’t penalize the opposite approach, which in hindsight, it probably should have done.
3. Hitman: Codename 47
It all began here. Players were introduced to a bald man in a dimly lit room in what appeared to be a mental institution. There was a barcode on this guy’s neck, too! Agent 47 appeared to be the very antithesis of what a video game protagonist should be, and yet, here we are, playing as him fifteen years later. Codename 47 set out the framework for a series which would progress and flounder at the same time. Despite its missteps, its system of stealth, disguises and sandbox gameplay remain hallmarks of the series.
2. Hitman 2: Silent Assassin
An improvement over its predecessor in every conceivable way, the 2002 release of Silent Assassin saw 47 make his full-fledged console debut. Its most important contribution was rewarding players for eliminating only main targets, with several added methods to dispatch other enemies in non-lethal ways. Attaining the much coveted “Silent Assassin” score would unlock new weapons for use in subsequent missions. Hitman 2 would also see great use of an epic symphonic music score composed by Jesper Kyd.
1. Hitman: Blood Money
Blood Money showcased all that was great about the Hitman series. The solid stealth gameplay was present and each of its 13 missions was an exciting sandbox to explore and complete in a variety of ways. This emphasis on non-linear missions puts in on top of the pack. Blood Money was also more difficult than the other games in the series (and not in an unreasonable way), but this difficulty also depended upon the player’s approach to a mission. The storytelling was greatly improved as well, with a tone that reflected the grim world Agent 47 inhabited—more so than its predecessors.