Gotta admit to you folks, as well as being a racing gamer and someone who enjoys Mortal Kombat, I’m a huge Hitman fan. Here’s a franchise of games that value brains over brawn, and considering that I’m a disabled gamer, I can relate. As a teenager at high school, I was frequently bullied and learned that brains will win over brawn in the long run. I’m a gaming journalist and my bullies, well, they’re working jobs they don’t enjoy. I’m tangenting for a bit here but bear with me. I love games that make you think, and make you reconsider how you play video games and herein lies the beauty of Hitman. It doesn’t matter if you get the game done quickly, but there are no rewards for shooting your way out of things. You must focus, think and work out strategies to keep body counts low and survive efficiently.
Okay, Agent 47 is designed to blend in as efficiently as possible, but to be fair, how well that happens is entirely up to you. Your entry point, moment, and method of assassination, and exit point are your choice. This is why I love this franchise. The sandbox element is superb, and I love how every instalment improves on this. Anyway, I think I’ve ranted on enough about why I love this franchise. What you’re reading for is the 5 best games in the franchise, and it’s time I delivered.
Hitman Blood Money
Hitman: Blood Money will go down in history as the definitive Hitman game before the World Of Assassination trilogy, which served as a reboot of the Hitman franchise. The game introduced most of what makes a good Hitman game work. From introducing notoriety mechanics to make the game alter it’s difficulty depending on your playstyle, to allowing 47 to climb over obstacles silently which helped no end. The game works as a sequel to previous games in the franchise, while setting up for the sequel, which was my entry point to these games.
There’s a lot to love in this game, particularly after they remastered the games in a HD collection for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 crowd. The game even on a Xbox One S looks stunning to play through, and to be fair, it’s well worth getting your hands on. (Seeing as I don’t currently have a PlayStation, I’ve no idea whether they’re selling copies on their online store).
All the best staples of the Hitman franchise were introduced in this game, and yes, this is the instalment in the franchise that courted controversy. The adverts put out across America courted controversy as critics pointed out that they seem to glorify murdering people, but to be fair, isn’t this what you play the games for in the first place?
This game is the first in the World Of Assassination trilogy, and it’s not so much a reboot of the franchise but a statement of intent: IO Interactive are giving us the Hitman franchise in full HD exactly the way it should be. From the opening mission in Paris to the methods and multiplayer options available, Hitman 1 isn’t a game that lost replayability after the sequels. In fact, it’s a game that lived long beyond expectations due to the introductions of both the trilogy’s main antagonists and the contracts mode, where you eliminate other people in the same map as your primary target using a series of increasingly silly disguises and methods. My highlight? Killing a target in Paris with a lawnmower whilst dressed up as Santa Claus.
All the main staples of the franchise that we love are in here. From the trademarked tongue-in-cheek humour to the notoriety system, right the way through to the plethora of opportunities, everything is here, and it’s a joy to play through. It comes as no surprise to hear that IO Interactive are making the next James Bond game, when this game (and the sequels in the World Of Assassination trilogy) feels like you’re in the world of 007. You really do.
I have a question folks: How do you follow up from a Hitman game that became the best selling game in the history of the franchise without letting people down? Answer? Make a sequel that its just as good, if not better. Hitman 2 gets a lot of things right, and vastly improves on several key issues people had with the first in the World Of Assassination trilogy. Instead of just killing people, this sequel is just as much about not killing people until opportune moments show themselves.
The genius thing that this game did was allow you to play the first game’s levels again in light of what you know narratively and with the new gadgets provided to you after completing the story of the second game. Explosive rubber ducks? Check. Killing someone by purposefully loosening a wheel nut? Check. Once done through the second game’s story modes, you can then use it to cause mayhem in levels in the first story, which was a really nice touch. They also gave the first game’s levels a new lick of paint, which came in really nicely as Sapienza looks even better through the lens of Hitman 2.
The really awesome thing this game gets right is the multiplayer. No longer the sole assassin in the levels, you and some random person online are racing each other to kill your targets and get out of dodge with as little mess as possible, as you score higher for efficiency than expediency. To make matters worse, taking your opponent out with a sniper rifle to ensure your success will forfeit your match, making this game even harder to play via multiplayer. I’m not commenting on whether this will be worse when it comes to Hitman 3.
Ahh, my entry point to the franchise is here. Yes, I came to the party late, but fashionably late at that. You see, I got to understand exactly what makes a good Hitman game from playing this game through repeatedly. Tightly controlled narratives are in place here, as I’m afraid that this is the last time we’ll see that happen in the franchise so far. This game had the people from the Kane And Lynch franchise writing the narrative, and the eponymous two even have a cameo in one level.
The gameplay is superb here, and IO Interactive took a lot from this game. When you start the first mission, your job is to assassinate the game’s secondary protagonist, Diana Burnwood. Agent 47 is given information proving that she’s a traitor to the ICA and that she’s hiding someone from the same place as Agent 47. Throughout this game, 47 has to kill anyone and everyone threatening the young girl with 47’s skill set, in order to give her a better life. The genius of this game is that it makes you wait to get everything in place, and it’s only during the final two levels that you finally get it all in place. The iconic navy blue suit, the Silverballers, everything.
Until two weeks ago, this game was my favourite Hitman game ever made, and then Hitman 3 came along…
What can I say about this game that hasn’t already been said? Yes, it’s had a lousy launch (which seems to be becoming an industry standard these days) but bear with it, as Hitman 3 isn’t just a great ending to a trilogy, it might just be the best Hitman game ever made. You fucking heard me on that one. Everything we know and love about the World Of Assassination trilogy (minus the multiplayer, but that’s in the works) is there. Adding in all the elements from previous games was a masterstroke, and giving all the maps from previous games a new lease of life was inspired. Yes, they did that with Hitman 2, but on the Xbox Series X and PS5, this game looks the best Hitman can be.
Introduction of the weather mechanic and the camera really helped, and the shortcut mechanic was incredibly useful as you replayed through Dubai to get your target. But, truth be told, if you want to see what the game’s like without breaking the bank, I gave my first impressions of it yesterday for you to have a read of.
There we have it folks, those are in this writer’s less-than-humble opinion, the best Hitman games ever made. Will this convince you to crack out a copy of one of them to play through? Will this inspire you to call me an idiot and remind me of other games? Whatever you do, my take ends here and yours starts. Hit me up on Twitter or let me know down in the comments, as I’d love to hear from you, in this second article of the week. Also, on serious note, stay home and stay safe.
Yours for the Gamerhub,