The Hitman games are stealth royalty, on par with Thief, Splinter Cell, and Metal Gear Solid. As such, it’s time for a rundown of the best the series offers. These are everyone’s favorite bald murderer’s greatest outings.
10. Hitman: Sniper
This is the runt of the Hitman mobile game litter. While Hitman Go distilled the series’ essence and made it work on a phone, Sniper isn’t much more than a Hitman-themed shooting gallery. There are one or two nice touches but rest assured, missing this one won’t haunt you until your dying day.
You can set traps, use distractions, and manipulate the environment, but the controls seriously let Sniper down. The sniping doesn’t work very well. Trying to zoom in on a target is a pain in the backside.
This one is all but forgotten and for a good reason. Onwards and upwards.
9. Hitman: Codename 47
It may have laid the Hitman foundations, but there’s no denying that the series has come on in leaps and bounds since the release of Codename 47. Some of the right ingredients are here, plotting a path to your target and taking them out with the weapons and gadgets at your disposal still feels great, and the enemy AI is surprisingly intelligent.
It’s a shame, then, that everything is so clunky. Movement feels awful, and the camera feels cramped and incredibly awkward to maneuver. The story is a bit light, and, despite first impressions, the game is surprisingly linear. There is generally only one correct way to beat each level.
Codename 47 is a little bit old and a little bit creaky. It’s probably now only of interest to either die-hard fans or gaming historians—a valiant first effort, but one that’s difficult to go back to today.
8. Hitman: Absolution
Of all the games on this list, Hitman: Absolution is perhaps the most difficult to place. Is it a bad game? No, not at all. Is it a good Hitman game? Unfortunately, I have to say no. In the sequel to Blood Money (one of the best in the whole series), Absolution felt like a misstep. Cutscene heavy, linear, and severely lacking in cool gadgets, at times, you forget you’re playing a Hitman game.
There are very few sandbox levels and even moments where you are forced into straight-up firefights, and that’s not why I play Hitman. The targets aren’t as interesting as in other games, the checkpoint system discourages experimentation, and there are some highly egregious quick-time events.
The gameplay and writing are solid enough, but that isn’t enough. It’s also worth mentioning that there’s an overtly sexual tone that sometimes veers into some highly questionable areas. That might put some people off.
7. Hitman: Contracts
Both a remake of the original game and a sequel to the second, Hitman: Contracts, is something of an oddity. It plays like a compilation of the best bits of the Hitman canon so far. It’s basically the game IO wish they had initially made.
The stealth works much better than in Codename 47, and the gameplay is generally much smoother. Other than that, there isn’t much to say about Contracts that hasn’t been said about the two games it is a pseudo-remake of.
The tone is grittier, the graphics are better, and the soundtrack is vastly improved. For many, this is where the Hitman story really begins. This is an upgraded version of the first (and arguably) second games. If you don’t think you can stomach some of the earlier games’ rough edges, this could be the perfect way to experience them.
6. Hitman 2: Silent Assasin
The Hitman series has a very distinct genealogy. Each game is largely iterative and lays the foundation for the next. Silent Assassin is an important game in this respect as it was an early example of many of the ideas that would go into the more recent World of Assassination games.
Silent Assassin was the first time players could poison a target’s food and drink, and the first time we saw Agent 47’s dual “Baller” pistols become truly iconic as his signature weapons. The levels are big and creative, exactly what you’d expect from a Hitman game.
Unfortunately, two things hold this game back. Firstly, the excessive difficulty. A lot of people found the game obnoxious. Add a slightly wonky checkpoint system (well, a completely broken one), and you have a recipe for frustration. Silent Assassin did a lot of innovating but didn’t quite stick the landing.
5. Hitman Go
At their very core, stealth games are puzzle games. You may disagree with me, but I think it explains why Hitman Go is such a confident adaptation. Stealth is about methodical forethought, and Hitman Go speaks to that. It’s a stripped-back experience and almost entirely linear (especially when compared to a mainline game), but it still delivers that same Hitman high.
The game is turn-based, and levels are composed of grids and lines, which Agent 47 can move along one at a time. The objective is to move onto the same space as the target while avoiding patrolling guards and other hazards. It’s all very intricate, and most importantly, it makes you feel clever.
The top-down perspective and sterile, minimalist visuals are a good fit for mobile devices, and it controls smoothly enough. It’s not a full-fat entry by any stretch of the imagination, but it is an amazingly compact Hitman experience.
4. Hitman: Blood Money
A graphical quantum leap and a turning point for the series. Hitman: Blood Money is revered for a reason. It is, in many ways, the ancestor of the modern Hitman games. The expansive, open-ended levels, the notoriety system, and an entirely new engine, which allowed for greater mobility and improved unarmed combat, all come together into a truly formidable title.
This is Agent 47 at his bald, brutal best. Hitman games are all about creative assassinations, and Blood Money is a constant stream of them. Almost every level is a living, breathing murder tapestry, each with unique opportunities, gameplay, and themes. “A New Life” is a particular highlight, a relentlessly intense suburban thriller. You’ll never attend another birthday party quite like this one.
Hitman games have, of course, got a lot slicker since the Playstation 2, but Blood Money has aged extremely well. It’s a quintessential Hitman experience.
3. Hitman (2016)
This was the moment that Hitman went back to its roots. Absolution went in a different direction, and it didn’t go to plan. There was an obvious demand for something closer to the classic games, and Hitman 2016 felt like a conscious effort to recapture that old-school spirit. For the most part, it was a roaring success.
The game itself plays brilliantly. A remarkably confident return to form that brought back the open-ended structure and variety. Despite the game being released episodically, each level was replayable enough that players didn’t feel like they were being made to wait for more content.
All that really holds this game back are the always online requirements and the hand-holding. There’s a much greater emphasis on “opportunities,” scripted moments that the game shepherds you towards. It’s also not the longest game in the series. This is still a great game, though, and a fantastic way to kick off the new trilogy
2. Hitman 2 (2018)
There isn’t a lot I can say about Hitman 2 that will be particularly novel. Hitman games borrow from each other a lot, and Hitman 2 is just a refinement of Hitman 2016. The levels are more intricate, more immersive, and more creative. Hitman has gone from strength to strength in recent years, and Hitman 2 is part of that upward trajectory.
The episodic release style was dropped entirely, allowing fans to enjoy the game at their own pace. There was also a subtle shift toward true sandbox gameplay, with clever cause-and-effect systems implemented throughout each level.
There are also a couple of multiplayer modes that aren’t all that much to write home about. Honestly, while a few rough edges were sanded off, Hitman 2 could have been a level pack for the first game in the trilogy.
1. Hitman 3
It took more than 20 years of Hitman games, but IO Interactive has finally put everything they’ve learned into practice. Hitman 3, the most recent entry in the series, is the ultimate Hitman game. From a technical and design perspective, this is Agent 47’s finest hour.
Just like the other two games in the World of Assassination trilogy, the levels in Hitman 3 are huge, sprawling, and chock-full of creative solutions and gameplay opportunities. “Death in The Family,” a murder mystery on a Dartmoor estate, is probably the best mission in the entire series.
Where Hitman goes from here, I honestly don’t know. This is about as fully fleshed out as the concept can get. It’s a great time to be a fan.
Like our list? Have we got it all horribly wrong? Let us know what you think in the comments section!