Agent 47 has become a cult icon in video games. While he hasn’t quite breached into the mainstream with the likes of Kratos or Master Chief, fans recognize him for his terrifying skills.
The Hitman franchise has grown steadily since its arrival on the scene in 2000. Starting as a straightforward RPG with 47 targets to take out, it has grown to have PvP modes and spin-off mobile titles.
We’re going through all of Agent 47’s adventures to see which one is the deadliest.
11. Hitman: Sniper – The Worst Hitman Game Ever Made
After the positive reception to the Sniper Challenge mini-game in Hitman Absolution, Square Enix developed the concept further. The mini-game eventually evolved into Hitman: Sniper for iOS and Android.
Slightly limited in scope (no pun intended), Hitman: Sniper is not compatible with PC nor console. Many players are used to being able to roam around a sandbox area as the smooth assassin (if you’ll forgive another pun!) The mobile title instead goes for a “look, don’t touch” approach.
Here, Agent 47 is removed from direct action and placed out of immediate danger. The objective of each mission is to eliminate primary targets with the best score possible. There are a number of bonus objectives to be met and modifiers that can increase your score. Agent 47 also has different weapons at his disposal and abilities he can use.
The series utilizes its platform well, adapting a portion of its gameplay appropriately for a handheld device. However, the repetitiveness of the objectives can make the player weary quickly. The same can be said for the static, singular map of the lakehouse, lavish and grandiose though it may be.
10. Hitman: Codename 47
Rolling on from mobile to good old-fashioned PC games, we arrive at the very first Hitman title. Receiving deserved praise for its focus on stealth and tactical approach, it drew some ire due to its awkwardness.
Incepting the franchise in 2000, Codename 47 set the stage for the series’s core gameplay. Players have a simple goal: eliminate targets. There are myriad ways to achieve that elimination: sniping from afar, causing a tragic “accident,” and blowing someone to kingdom come with a well-placed C4. These are all acceptable ways to complete your mission in Hitman.
In this initial entry, players were introduced to the barcoded Agent 47 and his elite skills. After escaping from a sanatorium, he joins the International Contract Agency. This mysterious agency employs professional assassins whose services are extended to wealthy and influential clients around the world.
Agent 47 uses his unique talents to work for the Agency, performing globe-trotting contract jobs.
Codename 47 developed the idea quite well. The storyline was a metaphorical Rubix cube that players could solve in different ways. The flexibility of the original Hitman game was influential in later games like Assassin’s Creed and Dishonored. Codename 47’s execution, however, was not as fluid as its successors’.
Clunky controls caused frustration in make-or-break encounters. This clumsiness let players down when it mattered most and broke the immersion periodically. This “finickiness” was then only exacerbated by the lethal difficulty.
9. Hitman Sniper: The Shadows
After the success of the iOS and Android title Hitman: Sniper, Square Enix Montreal doubled down on the mobile format. Putting much more time, effort, and resources behind the concept, they introduced a sequel in March 2022.
The title began life as Hitman Sniper 2: World of Assassins and Hitman Sniper Assassins back in 2020. Although it essentially follows the theme of the first game, this time around, Agent 47 is nowhere to be seen.
Instead, the ICA Sniper Team (The Shadows) make their debut. These interesting characters replace the callous killer that players were familiar with.
After 47’s disappearance, a global criminal group known as “The Shrapnel” emerges. With no elite operative to deal with them, The Shadows are deployed to take out the organization’s members.
The game now has different vantage points. Moreover, a broader cast means unique specialties for each character. The arcade score mechanics from previous games are still very much present, and the overall aesthetics and UI are much clear and cleaner.
The game generates replay value in a modern fashion by introducing Reputation Road and PvP modes.
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8. Hitman: Contracts
Partial prequel to Hitman 2 and a reimaging of Hitman, Hitman: Contracts was a more refined game. It is playable on Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 2, and Xbox.
After being gravely wounded during a botched job, Agent 47 spends his recovery time reminiscing on his past missions. The events of Hitman: Codename 47 are a part of this, along with some new missions thrown in. After recovering somewhat, Agent 47 intends to finish his current contract and discover who betrayed him.
Hitman: Contracts and Hitman: Blood Money were being developed simultaneously, and Contracts’ development time was very short. Contracts’ job was essentially to bridge the gap between Hitman 2 and Blood Money. This is almost certainly why Contracts’ story is framed in the way it is.
Players welcomed the gameplay improvements. The clumsiness from previous editions seemed quite overcome. Many players celebrated seeing the original Hitman levels in an improved format. However, some other players felt deflated by seeing old elements reused.
7. Hitman Go
The third and final mobile title, Hitman Go, shifted the series formula like Hitman: Sniper did.
With its unique aesthetic, Hitman Go is presented as a board game. The player must guide Agent 47 to the level exit using grid spaces and linear paths. Sticking with classic Hitman style, often a target must be removed from the board. Bonus objectives are presented on each level, like killing no enemies or finishing in a certain number of moves.
Agent 47 must also avoid obstacles and enemies to get to the target and escape the map unscathed. He faces different types of enemies, which present unique hazards. For example, some move back and forth, while others constantly rotate. He can also use distraction items or weapons to take enemies out from afar.
It’s commendable that rather than scaling down the Hitman experience, the developers thought outside the box as much as possible. By redesigning the game but keeping a kernel of the series intact, players got just the right mix of old and new.
6. Hitman: Absolution
Hitman: Absolution was a rather late sequel to the very popular 2006 entry Hitman: Blood Money. Fans had to wait six years to play as Agent 47 once more.
In this more modern Hitman, the legendary contractor has been branded a traitor by his former employer, the ICA. His former handler Diana Burnwood tells him about an orphan similar to Agent 47, who the ICA is trying to locate. In order to stop her from becoming an assassin like himself, Agent 47 must find the girl before the ICA do.
The game does a great job of putting Agent 47 through a wide range of environments. Each of these has a thorough level of detail with naturalistic elements. The way these elements are incorporated into paths to the target and accidental kills is one of the highlights of the game.
Hardcore fans of the series felt that Absolution became too linear. Other fans felt the idea of having levels where the objective was more than taking out a target was refreshing. Whatever your opinion may be, it was an inevitable evolution that IO Interactive would engineer in the series.
Hitman: Absolution was also packaged with the Hitman: Sniper Challenge mission, a precursor to the massively popular mobile game. It also included an online mode where players could design their own contracts and ostensibly create their own levels.
5. Hitman: Blood Money
Gaining a strong cult following, Hitman: Blood Money is cited by many fans of the series as their favorite game.
Similar to Contracts’ set-up, part of Blood Money’s story is told through narrated flashbacks. Unlike Contracts, Blood Money’s adventures are all completely new levels.
While completing his usual jobs, Agent 47 and his fellow agents are hunted by “the Franchise.” This faction rivals the ICA, looking to become the number one assassination organization.
Blood Money introduced several new concepts that expanded the gameplay possibilities—being able to hide bodies allowed players to leave a crime scene clean. “Weapons” can be found and utilized to deadly effect within missions. The Notoriety System means 47’s actions in missions have consequences for later ones.
Blood Money introduced a host of new mechanics that gave the series new life. The Notoriety System, in particular, gave players a palpable feeling that their actions truly had consequences.
4. Hitman 2 (2018)
The sequel game in the rebooted Hitman trilogy, Hitman 2 is also the second entry in the World of Assassins series.
Following directly on from the first reboot game, 47 is on the trail of the Shadow Client. The ICA sits uncomfortably with Providence, but 47 has personal motives for helping them. The secret NWO-like organization has promised to shed light on 47’s mysterious past.
The developers describe the rebooted WoA entry as a “puzzle game with stealth mechanics.”
These upgraded games are exactly what the franchise needed to bring into the fold of today’s gaming. The most interesting mechanic is the “mission stories.” This involves Agent 47 eavesdropping on NPC conversations to learn additional details like target locations and where special items are.
Expanding beyond the standard gameplay, additions like Ghost Mode and Sniper Assassin offered interesting variety.
3. Hitman 2: Silent Assassin
A near-perfect sequel, Hitman 2: Silent Assassin, improves upon its predecessor.
After the events of Hitman: Codename 47, the eponymous agent has retired. Working as a gardener at a church, he now lives a quiet life. After his friend, Reverend Vittorio, is kidnapped, the agent resumes his old mantel to rescue him.
Silent Assassin introduced many gameplay elements that are now cornerstones of Hitman’s design. It was the first game to give you non-lethal takedowns, a first-person view, and special accident opportunities tailored to the levels.
Speaking of the levels, there was a whopping twenty-one for players to get their teeth into. Each of them was diverse in their environments, with their target approaches blended in cleverly.
Because it was the first game to give so many key pieces to the franchise, Silent Assassin is cherished by long-time fans. Its reputation is rightly earned, and the game holds up today (especially in the HD Trilogy).
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2. Hitman (2016) – Runner-Up to the Best Hitman Game of All Time
Taking a different approach with its delivery system, 2016 saw a rebooted Hitman series. This was part of a live trilogy of games called World of Assassins.
The story revolves around a back-and-forth between a “Shadow Client” and a group called “Providence.” The Shadow Client is using the ICA and Agent 47 to take out key members of the Providence group.
Providence then approaches the ICA, asking them to help them fight back against the Shadow Client.
Some say Hitman gives players more of the same with better visuals, but this is only a half-truth. Things do look much prettier, yes. There is also no denying that the primary gameplay loop is identical to that of the last twenty-plus years. However, there is enough new content in the game, and the experience has been distilled in the best way.
IO’s initial goal of making the World of Assassins trilogy was indeed lofty. While it may not have come to full fruition, many brilliant ideas were retained. The live service elements like Elusive Targets and Escalation Contracts were the best of these ideas. These components helped ease in new players without alienating original fans.
1. Hitman 3 – The Best Hitman Game of All Time
The latest game in the Hitman franchise is arguably its greatest. Hitman 3 is beautiful, customizable, and wonderfully expansive. It is a fitting conclusion to the World of Assassins trilogy.
After discovering the identity of the Shadow Client, Agent 47 and his handler defect from the ICA. Together with the Client, they attack the Providence organization by hunting their partners.
Hitman 3, even after twenty years of titles, still managed to breed new ideas. Locked doors, a standard feature, now persist across all playthroughs. Numerical keypad locks are also introduced. These minor improvements weren’t revolutionary, of course, but they were a welcome plus.
Players were also able to import levels from the two previous Hitman games, as well as play the game in PS VR. Sadly, the game did scale back on multiplayer aspects. As a consolation, it retained the Sniper Assassin mode.
Contracts Mode allowed players to essentially design their own levels by setting targets, restrictions, and parameters. This makes replaying the game interesting every time, giving fans something to do while waiting for the next entry in the series!
Final Thoughts on Ranking the Best Hitman Games of All Time
Hitman is an iconic series that has opened the door for other great games like Deathloop, Sekiro, Assassin’s Creed, and Sniper: Ghost Warrior. The best Hitman games will live on in our memories and set the bar for stealth FPS games.
We also love how the Hitman games series evolved. It wasn’t a static repeat of the same-old mission. Whether it was introducing new gameplay mechanics or completely repurposing the game for a different, more strategic audience in Hitman: GO, the developers have poured their heart and soul into the Hitman series.
What is your favorite? What do you think is the best Hitman game of all time? Do you agree with our top pick and rankings? Feel free to let us and your fellow readers know your thoughts in the comments below.
You may also enjoy some of our other gaming series ranking articles, such as our review of the best Batman games of all time.