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When you hear the term ‘Hitman,’ there should only be one image that comes into your head, and that’s a sharply dressed, bald man armed with some piano wire. Agent 47 has been one of the most instantly recognizable and iconic characters within the gaming industry for decades, and within that time, he’s starred in some of the most compelling sandbox assassin games in history.
The level of depth, emergent gameplay, and pure chaos that one can cause is unmatched within the genre, and along with that, the narrative surrounding the chrome dome killer is usually gripping to boot.
So with that in mind, we thought that it would be fun to rank every single Hitman game since 47’s debut in the year 2000 right up until the most recent title by IO Interactive released in January 2021. So without further delay, here is RPG Informer’s Every Hitman Game Ranked From Worst to Best Guide!
You may be wondering how we are going to take all of these games with very similar formats, and rank them in a comprehensive and fair manner. Well, much like Agent 47, we are pretty efficient when it comes to gaming lists, and we have used the following criteria to make sure we have ranked these Hitman outings as accurately as we can:
- All games will be included. Even the DLC, mobile games, and VR modes
- We will account for age, overall quality of gameplay, strength of narrative, visuals, gameplay format, and of course, a sprinkling of my own personal bias.
- We will account for the game’s reception, but we will largely be calling it as we see it.
Okay, disguises on, and piano wire at the ready, folks. Here we go!
#12 – Hitman: Sniper
Release: October 2014
Metacritic/Rating: 4.8/5.0 Stars on Play Store
We begin with the wooden spoon entry, Hitman: Sniper. A mobile game based on the standalone sniper challenge from Hitman Absolution and adapted to a mobile format with a mixed degree of success. This game is conceptually solid and has a few interesting ideas. For example, players can use distractions, set traps and draw targets into their line of sight, making the game feel as open-ended and immersive as the platform allows. However, it falls flat due to a litany of functionality issues.
Firstly, the game’s touch layout and functionality are nothing short of terrible. Meaning you’ll be firing off shots, setting traps, and drawing attention to yourself seemingly at random. Plus, the scope is very sensitive and hard to use, meaning you’ll spend most of your time looking for your target than actually plotting your method of eliminating them. To sum up, a good idea but poor execution.
#11 – Hitman: Sniper Challenge
Release: May 2012
Metacritic/Rating: 76% (Based on Metacritic User Reviews)
We are happy to report that the inspiration for the last entry is slightly better than its mobile companion. However, not by much, if I’m being truthful. This is the standalone mission that was made available to players who pre-ordered Hitman: Absolution, allowing them to get a taste of what the game had to offer. Sadly, it was a sign of things to come, as this experience had a lot of the same issues that the full game did.
The experience rewards players through score multipliers, engaging in shootouts, being boisterous, working out more creative ways to cause chaos with just a magazine of bullets, and while it is fun for the most part, it isn’t what the Hitman series is all about. It didn’t champion stealth and cunning, which, in turn, would serve as a major flaw of the full game upon release.
#10 – Hitman 3: VR
Release: January 2022
Platforms: PSVR, PC Compatible VR Headsets
Metacritic/Rating: Mostly Negative (via Steam)
VR games can be hard to market for several reasons. One being that VR, while novel and fun, is still a gaming medium in its infancy. Plus, these games can vary wildly in terms of quality and functionality. However, if done right, they can be some of the most immersive and engaging gaming experiences around.
Sadly for Hitman VR, this was a major flop which represents a rare swing and a miss for IO Interactive. Much like games such as Fallout 4 or Resident Evil 7: Biohazard. This game places you in the shoes of Agent 47 and offers his POV as you try to pull off a string of outlandish kills. However, at its best, it’s a novelty, and at its worst, it’s a chore to work with.
The turning and movement are really inconsistent; gunplay is nowhere near the quality of even the most basic FPS VR games of today, and the graphics are scaled down considerably.
It’s sort of like Gran Turismo’s VR functionality which isn’t so much a new game as it is a fun feature to improve immersion. However, unlike that game, this serves to ruin the otherwise stellar modern Hitman Trilogy. So do yourself a favor, and stay away.
#9 – Hitman: Codename 47
Release: November 2000
It almost feels a little bit cruel placing the debut game in the series so low on this list, but when comparing this to all the others yet to be listed, I simply cannot justify a higher place than this. This game serves as a rough draft for the meticulous blueprints for sandbox success that would come after.
What you can’t deny is that this Hitman outing, while rough around the edges, was still a trailblazer in the stealth genre, which was still in its infancy at the time. It incorporated some iconic and instantly recognizable mechanics still used in today’s Hitman outings, like disguises and multiple options for success in an open-ended level to get the job done.
However, while all the ideas are solid, the game is a relic. Much like playing The Elder Scrolls: Morrowind today. You can tell it’s great; it’s just unlikely you’ll manage to battle through and appreciate it as one might have back then. This game is a piece of history and one that should be commended, but sadly, it has aged like milk and makes playing this one and enjoying it a hard task.
#8 – Hitman 2: Silent Assassin
Release: October 2002
Now this one may also seem harsh, considering that this game takes all the good from Codename 47 and refines each mechanic, all the while adding new and interesting ones into the mix. However, it’s once again down to this game being somewhat of an antique compared to other games in the series.
Hitman 2: Silent Assassin is admittedly much more playable than our last entry, but it’s the stiff controls, the antiquated visuals, and the maps that are limited in scope compared to modern-day Hitman titles that find this iteration where it is on this list.
However, this game must be commended for fine-tuning the Hitman formula and molding this game format into a truly open-ended stealth sandbox. This would be the first game that would reward players for thinking outside the box and finding rare assassinations that played off as acts of God.
This would earn you the title of Silent Assassin and, to this day, remains a staple of the series. So unlike Codename 47, I would urge you to go back and experience this one.
#7 – Hitman: Absolution
Release: November 2012
Platforms: PS3/4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PC,
Believe it or not, this was the first Hitman game I actually fully engaged with, and for that reason, I have a real soft spot for it. However, putting bias to one side, I, too, can see the issues present with this one.
We have already touched on why this game is not a quintessential Hitman experience. However, while the game is not one that champions stealth above all else, it still allows players to be sneaky, uses all of the core mechanics that make the game series what it is today, and while it won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, this game improves the combat aspects drastically.
Now, if you are a good assassin, you should never need to engage in combat, but if you have to (or want to), it should at least be enjoyable. Which, thankfully, it is in Absolution.
The game also suffers from a much more linear narrative and level design pattern, aside from a few open-ended areas which buck the trend. Plus, it feels like the game is trying desperately to capture fans from the MGS series with its altered format.
Overall, it was not a successful venture when compared to the lofty standards of the games we have yet to mention. However, it is still enjoyable, albeit a more run-and-gun heavy Hitman outing.
#6 – Hitman: Go
Release: April 2015
Platforms: PS4, PS Vita, Android/IOS
It may surprise a few that a mobile game (which later became available on consoles) has made it so high on this list. Well, despite its much more limited scope, this game succeeds in offering a quintessentially Hitman experience, and that is a testament to the concept and the developers behind this project.
This game allows players to enjoy Hitman with a fresh new perspective, offering a top-down RTS game that tasks players to meticulously plan their movements, paths, attacks, and escape in a puzzle format.
This game was a huge success and paved the way for other games in the Go series to be successful such as Lara Croft Go. However, while the game is an excellent mobile game and a much more relaxing and cathartic Hitman experience, it is inherently linear, hollow in terms of narrative, and lacks emergent gameplay.
That being said, we fully endorse this puzzle-based assassin thriller.
#5 – Hitman: Contracts
Release: April 2004
Remember how we said Codename 47 was a game that aged like milk? Well, Hitman: Contracts is a game that shows the self-awareness of the development team and allows players to enjoy the vast majority of the events within this older title, without having to endure those jagged polygons and primitive controls.
Hitman: Contracts allows you to revisit these events through Agent 47’s memories as they heal him back to fighting fitness, offering a much more gritty thematic approach compared to its inspiration.
This game polishes all these iconic levels, allowing them to benefit from four years of advances within the industry, adds a lot of the mechanics present within Hitman 2: Silent Assassin, and also adds a series of other levels in Foreign locales that make sure this game still offers something new for returning fans.
It limits itself by being a partial remake of sorts, but for what it is, it’s very good indeed.
#4 – Hitman: Blood Money
Release: May 2006
Hitman: Blood Money is essentially Hitman: Contracts but with completely new, unique content and perhaps one of the most compelling and cohesive storylines within the entire series. This game is told through a journalist’s interview with the head of the FBI. Picture the format that Persona 5 adopted with the interrogation of Joker, but instead of sitting in a holding cell, Agent 47, as usual, walks away Scott free.
This game is hailed as the fan favorite of the series by many due to its iconic level design, and missions that stand the test of time as some of the most popular in the entire series, even with modern advances.
Plus, this game made huge efforts to make the enemy AI more intelligent. Meaning that you would need to work much harder (or smarter) to get to your target, make them worm food, and then get out undetected. Blood Money is very much a game that you should experience first hand so get a copy when you can and retrospectively enjoy this classic.
#3 – Hitman 2
Release: November 2018
You may have noticed that all we have left are the more modern Hitman titles, and the bronze medal goes to the middle child of the trilogy, Hitman 2.
This game offers a series of expansive level designs in real-world locales, environments that feel alive and true to reality, with a series of events within each level that will take hours of exploration just to get your bearings and plan your best route of attack.
Plus, the game has a series of challenges that make the game infinitely replayable and a satisfying challenge for completionists.
This game, and by extension, the other games in this trilogy, feel like the perfect representation of infinite sandboxes. I will concede that it’s the weakest of the trio, but even still, it’s a phenomenal Hitman experience.
#2 – Hitman
Release: March 2016
Now, this may turn some heads, but hey, it’s my list. If you are familiar with Hitman’s soft reboot, released in 2016, you will be aware of the episodic format with which the game released its content.
For many, this was frustrating, but in my humble opinion, this was genius. I usually hate episodic games, but if any franchise suits this model, it’s Hitman.
This approach built anticipation for the next piece of the puzzle in terms of the narrative. It kept players engaged and wanting more levels to explore, and it made sure that players squeezed every last drop of enjoyment out of the levels they had at their disposal.
This is now obviously available as one full package today, and players won’t have to endure the gatekeeping that IO Interactive pushed on active players of that period. However, we would argue that much like a weekly show on TV, it’s the anticipation and the suspense that makes the end result so thrilling and rewarding.
In terms of gaming quality, we would say that Hitman 1 and 2 are on par with one another, but because of this format, the 2016 reboot edges it.
#1 – Hitman 3
Release: January 2021
Then lastly, rather predictably, we have the most modern and grand Hitman outing yet. Hitman 3 serves as the finale of the modern trilogy and sets up one of the finest climaxes in modern gaming, four years in the making.
Not only does this game offer closure, but it also provides levels that are easily the most impressive and open-ended within the entire modern series. The goal of IO Interactive has been to create bigger and better levels, and this challenge has paid off, as these level designs are nothing short of stunning in scale and beauty.
These real-world locales offer a plethora of challenges, a wealth of ways to kill targets, and undesirable guards. Not to mention, some of the most visually appealing vistas and environments you will see within the industry even today.
Plus, the AI is as intelligent as it has ever been, so if you think you are in for an easy ride, you can guess again. Hitman 3 is undeniably the best looking, most mechanically sound, and arguably the best narrative Hitman experience out there, and therefore, you would be a fool to miss it.
License to Kill
As you can see, while there haven’t been as many mainline games in the Hitman series when compared to, say, Pokemon, Mario, Zelda, and the like. You have to say, pretty much every single one has been a hit.
That is our rundown of all the best Hitman games ever made. What did you make of this list? What games have you played from this list? Do you think that some games on this list are placed too high/low? Let us know in the comments section below, and as always, thank you for reading.
Question: How Old is The Hitman Series?
Answer: The first Hitman game debuted in the year 2000, making the Hitman series over two decades old. Gee, now I feel old.
Question: Are They Making Another Hitman?
Answer: Yes, while there have been no major announcements, trailers, or updates to speak of. IO Interactive recently posted a job listing for an upcoming Hitman project, so expect to see something announced in the coming months.
Question: How Old is Agent 47?
Answer: According to the Hitman Wiki page, Agent 47’s birthday falls on the 5th of September 1964, making him 59 years of age. He’s no spring chicken, but even as he approaches retirement age, he seems to always find a way to get the job done.
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