Ranking the Best Hitman Game: Which Hit the Right Spot?

Mobile Games

Agent 47, your mission is to eliminate the target on the third floor. To get to him, would you disguise yourself as a janitor? Maybe knock out one of the guests and take his invitation? Or take it on guns blazing from the front door instead? An open world with tons of ways to complete your goal; that’s the sense of freedom the Hitman series has given players since its inception.

 

In This Article

10th. Hitman: Codename 47
9th. Hitman: Absolution
8th. Hitman Go
7th. Hitman: Contracts
6th. Hitman: Sniper
5th. Hitman: Blood Money
4th. Hitman 2
3rd. Hitman: Silent Assassin
2nd. Hitman (2016)
1st. Hitman 3

 

The Best Hitman Game in 2021

Part of the second generation of stealth games alongside Thief, Metal Gear Solid, and Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell, the Hitman series continues to be the flagship game for IO Interactive. Since the first game, Codename 47 in 2000, the series has seen two soft reboots and a few misses. Even though it has gone through three publishers, Eidos Interactive, Square Enix, and Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, the series is still going strong. The Hitman series continues to tweak and innovate its mechanics and gameplay, an idea that extends to the soon-to-be-released Sniper: The Shadows.

After 20 years, and with the upcoming release of Sniper: The Shadows and Season of Sloth for Hitman 3, we thought of looking through the series and ranking them for the players out there who might want to revisit the older games. For this list, we’ll look at all the single-player campaign missions in the mainline games and mobile games in the series. However, we’ll exclude the “DLCs” and note if games have HD versions when available. The games on this list are all ESRB-rated Mature 17+ unless stated otherwise, starting with the 10th spot.

 

10. Hitman: Codename 47

Release Date: November 2000

Platforms: Windows

Publisher: Eidos Interactive

Codename 47 is the game that started it all. This game introduced the world to Agent 47, an assassin for the secretive International Contract Agency (ICA). Gameplay-wise, this entry started the series’ path into revolutionizing the stealth genre with open-world gameplay and a mission grading system. The game was the first ever to use ragdoll physics, a relatively new technology at the time. This game also introduced the disguise system, versatile AI, and the idea of infinite replayability due to the ways you can finish missions.

Technologically, the game has aged badly. It has dated graphics from the late 1999s, a clunky control system, and worst of all, bad third-person camera angles that cut out at bad points in the playthrough. If you want to see the game that started it all, this is good for a playthrough or two. If not, this game is an easy pass instead.

 

9. Hitman: Absolution

Release Date: November 2012

Platforms: Windows, OSX, PS3, Xbox 360

Publisher: Square Enix Europe and Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment for the HD version.

Hitman Absolution had a chance to be the best Hitman game in the series but courageously flopped to its hardcore audience. This game still featured some of the same stealth-based third-person gameplay as former games with one big difference; it lacked the same open-world freedom as the others in the series. In a bid to appeal to more mainstream gamers, IO made the game maps more linear and cramped. They put limits to player freedom by creating closed-off areas with single-point entry and exit ways, hallway-like maps where players had no choice but head into a gunfight or just levels where there were no targets at all. These limitations made the game feel more like an action-shooter than a stealth game it is supposed to be.

Also read: Top 20 Stealth Games For Mobile

This game does feature several good points like the new “instinct” system, the online “Contracts” mode, and its encompassing story arc that covers both this game and the events of Blood Money. Absolution was also the last of the “Original” series timeline and finished a plot started in Blood Money. There’s also an HD version available on PS4 and Xbox One as part of the Hitman HD Enhanced Edition.

 

8. Hitman Go

Release Date: April 2014

Platforms: iOS, Android

Publisher: Square Enix Europe

ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+

The oddest one out of this bag, Hitman Go wasn’t a product of IO Interactive. A stark departure from the series, this game plays more like a mix of chess and a tabletop RPG. Created by Square Enix Montreal, you still follow the missions of Agent 47 through several top-down set-piece dioramas. Graphically, the game is gorgeous due to the almost hand-painted quality of its sets. Meanwhile, its technical gameplay is good with easy-to-use touchscreen controls, (click and drag controls for those on the Definitive Edition), and progressively harder maps facing players with each win.

Overall, this entry is a relaxing puzzle game but too much of a departure from the nitty-gritty third-person stealth game the series is known for. The game costs $4.99 on the Apple Store while the Android port costs $5.99 on the Google Play Store. Aside from those versions, this game also has a Definitive Edition for Windows, Windows Phone, PS4, PS Vita, and Linux.

Download on Google Play Store

Download on App Store

7. Hitman: Contracts

Release Date: April 2004

Platforms: Windows, PS2, Xbox

Publisher: Square Enix Europe

Hitman: Contracts has the weird distinction of being both a prequel and a sequel to Silent Assassin. The game has two arcs. The first is presented as flashbacks by Agent 47 where you go on remastered missions from Codename 47. This segment has updated graphics and reworked missions, but not much else. The other arc has a few new missions to settle Agent 47’s current status and work after the events of Silent Assassin. This game also starts the series into a darker theme with cannibalism and sexual violence popping up as themes in the first few missions. This game, Silent Assassin, and Blood Money are part of the HD remake, Hitman HD Trilogy for PS3 and Xbox 360.

 

6. Hitman: Sniper

Release Date: June 2015

Platforms: Android, iOS

Publisher: Square Enix Europe

Another game by Square Enix Montreal, Sniper is an improvement of Absolution’s Sniper Assassin mode. You play as Agent 47 on a mission to kill several high-profile targets who’ve met up at a lakefront compound in Montenegro. Genre-wise, Sniper is a gallery shooting game with some puzzle-like gameplay. It lets you decide how to kill your targets through traps, use of the environment, or directly shooting them. The game is played through screen touches where you’re confined to looking through the sniper scope and using the reticle to aim your fire.

While not a third-person stealth game like other names on the series, Sniper ranks sixth due to its compelling puzzle-like elements, progression system, and continuous game updates like the new “Zombies” mode. The game is available for iOS and Android for $0.99. Sniper is by far the best Hitman game on mobile, at least until Sniper: The Shadows is released sometime this year.

Download on Google Play Store

Download on App Store

Also read: The Top 20 First Person Games on Mobile

 

5. Hitman: Blood Money

Release Date: May 2006

Platforms: Windows, PS2, PS3, Xbox, Xbox 360

Publisher: Square Enix Europe

For us, Blood Money is the pivotal game in the Hitman original series. This game ushers in the start of the Hitman series’ worldwide fame in the gaming community. It is the culmination of the original series’ gameplay, graphics, and storyline. Starting with a viral and slightly controversial marketing campaign, the game is an all-around improvement to its predecessors.

Aside from the major graphics update through a new game engine, the game also revamped most of the series’ core features. These include more options to fulfill your missions through more open-level design, a score-based weapon progression system, and a smarter AI. The improved stealth mechanics now allows you to kill targets in “accidents” and discreetly dispose of bodies. It even has better control over where and how you use the terrain.

Other improvements include the notoriety system and an upgrade to unarmed combat. This game also starts the series’ move to more story-focused gameplay with a plot lasting till Hitman Absolution.

 

4. Hitman 2

Release Date: November 2018

Platforms: Windows, PS4, Xbox One, Google Stadia

Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment

Hitman 2 (2018) follows the story of Hitman (2016), the first in the World of Assassination soft reboot series. As a sequel, this game checks every box on what a sequel should be. It improved on all parts of the previous game from the story to the reintroduction of the briefcase item. Released as one full game instead of the episodic release of the prequel, this title features a well-put-together storyline. You continue your mission as Agent 47 to hunt the “Shadow Client” for the ICA and Providence. This goal would drag you on a world tour with stunningly modeled locations like Hawke’s Bay in New Zealand, Johannesburg in South Africa, Mumbai in India, and even to the game’s roots in the mental asylum introduced in the first game.

Aside from the quality of life improvements, the game also allows owners of the prequel to download all of its chapters and play it on 2’s improved engine. The game also featured a Cooperative Multiplayer Mode that played like a co-op of Hitman: Sniper. Another feature is the refined “Elusive Targets” missions where you have opportunities to take out select NPCs that randomly appear once on a playthrough.

 

3. Hitman: Silent Assassin

Release Date: June 2002

Platforms: Windows, PS2, Xbox, GameCube

Publisher: Eidos Interactive

The second game in the series, Silent Assassin may not be the one that started it, but it is the one that defined it. Using the vague ideas of Codename 47, this game refined those ideas into a solid repeatable formula that IO applied to all sequel games. Silent Assassin had improved AI that didn’t just use a line of sight but also other terrain features to its advantage, an improvement that you could use for yourself. Silent Assassin also introduced even bigger maps than the first one. This increase lets you better fulfill the “Silent Assassin” ranking that rewards player patience in stealth rather than in an aggressive approach.

Silent Assassin isn’t just third on our list due to nostalgia; an HD port of this game along with Contracts and Blood Money was released to PS3 and Xbox 360 as part of the Hitman HD Trilogy. With an HD upgrade and a few tweaks, Silent Assassin continues to stand among the best Hitman games in the series.

 

2. Hitman (2016)

Release Date: October 2016

Platforms: Windows, PS4, Xbox One

Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment

A soft reboot of the franchise, Hitman (2016) is the first in the “World of Assassination” arc of games. Originally set to be made by Square Enix Montreal, IO Interactive was again brought in to lead the game’s development. For this title, IO sought to combine the action gameplay of Absolution into the open-ended stealth mechanics long-time fans wanted.

In addition to worlds that could have over 300 NPCs at the same time, Hitman also heavily improved the AI. They can now see through your disguises, be suspicious of your movements, be distracted, and many other unique AI routines.

While disliked at the time, the controversial episodic format pushed some players to replay and explore the myriad ways they could fulfill their missions using the scale of the non-linear sandbox world. Overall, the game is an improvement to the graphic and storytelling made by Absolution but with the freedom and world-scale offered in the previous games.

 

1. Hitman 3

Release Date: January 2021

Platforms: Windows, PS4, PS5, Xbox X/S, Xbox One, Stadia, Switch (as a Cloud Service)

Publisher: IO Interactive

The current best of the best Hitman game, Hitman 3 is the holy grail for the series. Recently released, the game wholly focuses on the single-player aspect and does away with multiplayer modes like Ghost Mode. The game does keep Sniper Assassin and Contract Modes without its previous co-op segments.

This game also has the best graphics and physics engine for the entire series. You can actually see and feel the water, heat, and snow on your character as believably real while playing in the traditional third-person view. This game frankly, looks like a movie instead of a game. A fact that’s especially true for the cutscenes that you watch through.

The PS4 and PS5 versions also allow for Playstation VR compatibility. This feature, combined with the ability to import missions and maps from Hitman 2, brings even more playability to the game. If you also imported Hitman (2016) levels to Hitman 2, those levels are imported to Hitman 3 as well.

Aside from the gorgeous graphics, the technical aspects of the game remain the same with a few quality of life improvements. Chief among these is the introduction of ‘persistent shortcuts’ where some doors are locked from one side and could only be unlocked from there. Once you’ve unlocked them, it keeps them open for all future playthroughs as a shortcut to hard-to-access locales.

Hitman 3 Sloth Roadmap
Photo from IO Interactive Webpage

Going to the future, the game continues to get updates. The current update roadmap for the game is their “Season of Sloth” arc with future updates set to continue the Seven Deadly Sins theme.

IO Interactive is set to create the next James Bond game with the announcement of their Project 007. This may explain the immediate boost in quality and dedication from IO to make Hitman 3 their best game yet.

Get Hitman 3 on the Nintendo Game Store

 

The End Game

The series looks set to continue into a new decade with the soon-to-be-released Hitman Sniper: The Shadows coming into Android and iOS aside from continuing updates to Hitman 3.

For our list though, Hitman 3 is without a doubt our pick for the best Hitman game right now. Even though it’s still a relatively new game, with its movie-like graphics, a three-game story arc worthy of a Bond film, and a fanbase hungry for more, Hitman 3 is a crowning moment for a series 20 years in the making.

x