Hitman (franchise)

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Hitman
Hitman reboot vector logo.svg
Logo of the franchise used since 2016
Genre(s)Stealth
Developer(s)IO Interactive
Publisher(s)
Platform(s)
First releaseHitman: Codename 47
21 November 2000
Latest releaseHitman 3
20 January 2021

Hitman is a stealth video game franchise developed by Danish developer IO Interactive, and previously published by Eidos Interactive and Square Enix. IO Interactive remained a subsidiary of Square Enix until 2017, when Square Enix started seeking buyers for the studio. IO Interactive completed a management buyout, regaining their independent status and retaining the rights for Hitman, in June 2017.[1] The games are available for macOS, Linux, Microsoft Windows and multiple consoles, including the PlayStation 2, Xbox, GameCube, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PlayStation Vita, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X, Nintendo Switch, and Stadia with the spin-off games also being available on mobile devices including Android, iOS and Windows Phone.

The series started with 2000's Hitman: Codename 47, and has featured eight main games in total, the most recent being Hitman 3, released January 2021. Main games in the Hitman series are set in semi-open world environments and played from the third-person perspective, though some games also include an option for first-person. Gameplay revolves around assassinating various targets, with players being given the freedom to complete their objectives in whichever manner they wish; however, most of the time, a stealth approach is recommended. Players can make use of a variety of skills and tools to traverse each level undetected, such as taking disguises, using suppressed weaponry to eliminate guards, or simply hiding in plain sight.

The series' main protagonist and playable character is Agent 47, the eponymous hitman, who works for the fictional International Contract Agency (ICA). Originating as a clone who was genetically-engineered to maintain peak human physicality and intelligence, be easy to control, and display a cold and monotone personality, 47 is regarded as the best assassin in the world. Although most of the Hitman games feature standalone narratives, there are several story arcs that span multiple games in the series, and each entry so far has been connected, even if loosely, to previous ones, creating a sense of continuity. Most of the storylines revolve around 47 gradually unravelling and subsequently stopping a major conspiracy, while also developing his mysterious background, humane side, and relationships with various recurring characters.

The main games in the Hitman franchise have received generally positive reviews for their level design and gameplay elements, in particular the level of freedom offered to players and the unique approach to stealth gameplay. The series has received multiple awards and nominations, including several Game of the Year awards. It has also been commercially successful, selling over 15 million copies worldwide as of 2015[2] with the World of Assassination trilogy alone reaching over 50 million players as of November 2021.[3] It has become IO Interactive's flagship franchise. Outside of the eight mainline releases, the Hitman franchise also includes three spin-off games, two novels, and a comic book miniseries. The series has also received two live-action film adaptations, Hitman (2007) and Hitman: Agent 47 (2015), both of which share no narrative connections with the games and have been negatively received.

Games[edit]

Release timeline
2000Hitman: Codename 47
2001
2002Hitman 2: Silent Assassin
2003
2004Hitman: Contracts
2005
2006Hitman: Blood Money
2007
2008
2009
2010
2011
2012Hitman: Absolution
2013
2014Hitman Go
2015Hitman: Sniper
2016Hitman
2017
2018Hitman 2
2019
2020
2021Hitman 3
2022Hitman Sniper: The Shadows

Original series[edit]

Hitman: Codename 47 (2000)[edit]

The first installment in the Hitman series, subtitled Codename 47 in reference to the protagonist, was developed by IO Interactive and published by Eidos Interactive for Microsoft Windows in November 2000. It introduced some of the basic gameplay elements of the series, such as the open ended levels and the use of disguises to access otherwise unavailable areas. While most levels put heavy emphasis on stealth, there are also certain action-focused segments, where stealth is not a possibility. In the game's storyline, Agent 47 escapes from the facility of his creator, and is hired by the ICA, who assign him contracts to assassinate various wealthy and decadent criminals across the globe. While these targets are seemingly unrelated at first, it is soon revealed that they all played a role in 47's creation.

Hitman 2: Silent Assassin (2002)[edit]

The first sequel in the series was developed by IO Interactive and published by Eidos Interactive for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 2, and Xbox in October 2002, and GameCube in June 2003. Gameplay has been improved compared to the predecessor, removing the action-focused segments, and introducing new features, such as the option for a first-person view, the ability to incapacitate enemies instead of killing them, and missions with multiple possible approaches. In the storyline, Agent 47 has retired from the ICA and started a peaceful life at a church, where he befriended Reverend Emilio Vittorio. When Vittorio is kidnapped by unknown assailants, 47 resumes work for the ICA in hopes of tracking him down.

Hitman: Contracts (2004)[edit]

Hitman: Contracts was developed by IO Interactive and published by Eidos Interactive for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 2 and Xbox in April 2004. It is both a sequel to Silent Assassin, and a remake of the first game, as it features several levels from Codename 47 that have been remastered with new graphics, better artificial intelligence, and gameplay elements introduced in the second game. It also includes new levels depicting some of Agent 47's past contracts not featured in any of the first two games. All these contracts are told through flashbacks, which 47 experiences after being almost killed during a botched job in Paris.

Hitman: Blood Money (2006)[edit]

Hitman: Blood Money was developed by IO Interactive and published by Eidos Interactive for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 2, Xbox and Xbox 360 in May 2006. The game introduces a satellite map to help guide the player through levels. The map indicates the layout of each topographical area of the level, the whereabouts of Agent 47's main targets, and other AI-controlled characters. In order to carry out his mission, 47 may use any method at his disposal to eliminate his targets, regardless of witnesses or violence done to bystanders. Beyond rewarding stealth over bloodshed as is traditional in the series, Blood Money includes features that directly penalize the player for making too much noise and/or being too violent; either toward their targets, bystanders, or both.

The main storyline follows Agent 47's efforts to bring down the Franchise, a rival contract killing organisation that was first hinted at in Hitman: Contracts. After eliminating the ICA, the Franchise seeks to obtain the same cloning technology that created 47, to form their own army of cloned assassins. Meanwhile, a frame story presents 47's life and previously unseen contracts that he carried out, as narrated by a former FBI director to a journalist.

Hitman: Absolution (2012)[edit]

Hitman: Absolution was announced by Square Enix and it was released on 20 November 2012 worldwide for Microsoft Windows, OS X, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.[4][5][6] Before release, the developers stated that Absolution would be easier to play and more accessible, while still retaining hardcore aspects of the franchise. The game is more linear in structure than its predecessors, and introduces new gameplay features, such as 'Instinct', which allows Agent 47 to monitor enemies more easily, and an online mode called "Contracts", where players can create their own missions and share them with others online. The single-player storyline follows 47's efforts to protect a genetically-engineered teenage girl from various criminal syndicates and corrupt ICA agents, who want to use her potential as an assassin for their own ends.

On 15 May 2014, Hitman: Absolution — Elite Edition was released for OS X by Feral Interactive; it contains all previously released downloadable content, including Hitman: Sniper Challenge, a "making of" documentary, and a 72-page artbook.

World of Assassination trilogy[edit]

Hitman (2016)[edit]

A new Hitman game was originally to be developed by Square Enix developer Square Enix Montreal, a newly established studio.[7] However, due to cutbacks and layoffs at IO Interactive, a Square Enix representative said that IO Interactive will only focus on the Hitman franchise in the future.[8][9][10][clarification needed] Square Enix Montreal, which was originally working on the next Hitman title, will focus on developing smartphone and tablet versions of Hitman and other games.[11][12][13] On 15 June 2015, a full reveal of the game took place at Sony's E3 2015 press conference.

Titled simply Hitman, the game was released in March 2016 for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.[14] Episodic in nature, Hitman features six levels that were released throughout 2016, one month apart from each other, along with additional content, such as "Elusive Targets" (missions that players have only one opportunity to complete), "Escalation Contracts" (where the targets must be eliminated in a specific manner), and "Online Contracts" (similar to Hitman: Absolution's "Contracts" mode). Each level is very detailed, and more complex than in any previous Hitman game. The single-player storyline explores 47's forgotten past, and follows him as he assassinates various targets for a man known only as the "Shadow Client", later revealed to be an enemy of Providence, a secretive organization that controls global affairs.

Hitman 2 (2018)[edit]

Hitman 2 was announced in June 2018 by IO Interactive and Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, the latter of which publishing the game following IO's acquisition of the Hitman IP from Square Enix. The game was released for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One on 13 November 2018. Gameplay-wise, it is very similar to 2016's Hitman, but it is not episodic,[15] and it introduces several new features and online modes. Players have the option to carry over levels from the first game at an additional cost; if they already own the first game, then they can do so free of charge, while also retaining all their original progress. The storyline continues from Hitman, with 47 pursuing the Shadow Client for Providence, who in return promised to reveal his past. After discovering the Shadow Client's identity, however, 47 defects to his side and begins helping him dismantle Providence.

Hitman 3 (2021)[edit]

Hitman 3 was revealed at the PlayStation 5 reveal event in 2020, and released in January 2021 for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Stadia (under the title Hitman: World of Assassination), and Nintendo Switch (as a cloud version). Similarly to Hitman 2, it is not episodic, and players have the option to carry over progress from the previous two games. The narrative of the game concludes the story arc started in Hitman, as 47 and his remaining allies attempt to eliminate Providence once and for all.

Spin-offs[edit]

Hitman Go (2014)[edit]

Aggregate review scores
Game Metacritic
Hitman Go iOS: 81/100[16]
PC: 72/100[17]
PS4: 77/100[18]
PS Vita: 80/100[19]
Hitman: Sniper iOS: 76/100[20]

Hitman Go is a turn based puzzle video game developed by Square Enix Montreal.[21] The game was released for iOS on 17 April 2014, and for Android on 4 June 2014.[22] The Microsoft Windows and the Windows Phones version of the game was released on 27 April 2015.[23] A "Definitive Edition" including improved visuals and all additional content was released for the PlayStation Vita, PlayStation 4 and PC via Steam on 23 February 2016.[24]

Hitman: Sniper (2015)[edit]

Hitman: Sniper is a first-person shooter developed by Square Enix Montreal. It was released for iOS and Android on 4 June 2015.[25]

Hitman Sniper: The Shadows (2022)[edit]

Hitman Sniper: The Shadows is a first-person shooter developed by Square Enix Montreal and the sequel to Hitman: Sniper. It was released for iOS and Android on 3 March 2022.[26]

Collections[edit]

Aggregate review scores
Game GameRankings Metacritic
Hitman Trilogy PS2: 88%[27]
PS3: 74%[28]
X360: 70%[29]
PS3: 71/100[30]
X360: 69/100[31]
Hitman HD Enhanced Collection PS4: 75%[34]
XONE: 73%[35]
PS4: 69/100[32]
XONE: 66/100[33]

Hitman Trilogy (2007)[edit]

A box set titled Hitman Trilogy[36] (Hitman: The Triple Hit Pack in Europe) was released for PlayStation 2 on June 19, 2007 in North America and on June 22, 2007 in Europe.[36][37] It contains Hitman 2: Silent Assassin, Hitman: Contracts and Hitman: Blood Money. The games in the collection are identical to the previously released stand-alone versions.

The same set of titles were later released as part of a new compilation for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 titled Hitman HD Trilogy, which was released on January, 29, 2013 in North America,[38] January 31, 2013 in Australia and February 2, 2013 in Europe. This compilation contains newly ported versions of Silent Assassin and Contracts for both consoles, as well as a new port of Blood Money for the PlayStation 3 (the Xbox 360 version was previously released as a stand-alone).[39] A digital bundle was also released for the Xbox 360 titled Hitman HD Pack, containing just Silent Assassin and Contracts,[40] aimed at users who already owned the stand-alone version of Blood Money for the same platform.

Hitman HD Enhanced Collection (2019)[edit]

Another compilation was released for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One on 11 January 2019 worldwide through the PlayStation Store and Xbox Store featuring new ports of Hitman: Blood Money and Hitman: Absolution for both platforms.[41]

Future[edit]

In various interviews conducted with IO Interactive, they have confirmed that despite Hitman 3 being the final game in the World of Assassination trilogy, it will not be the last game in the franchise.[42][43][44]

Common elements[edit]

Gameplay[edit]

Set mainly in a third-person perspective, the core objective in each level of the games is to kill the assigned target (usually there are additional targets as an optional bonus). In most cases, Hitman allows the player different options to accomplish this task. Players can perform precise assassinations or slaughter indiscriminately in order to achieve the mission goals; however, the games reward a subtle approach by awarding special weapons or cash bonuses if players earn a favourable rank (usually achievable by eliminating only the assigned target, and without raising the alarm doing so). 47 can wear a variety of disguises (such as repairmen, police officers and waiters) to fool enemies and gain access to restricted areas. The focus of Hitman is not hiding in the shadows from the enemy, but rather blending in amongst them. It is up to the player to initiate violence, since guards do not usually open fire unless provoked.

In every game, the player character, Agent 47, has limited maneuverability; he cannot jump, scale walls, or mantle up ledges (there are a few pre-scripted places where he can jump from one balcony to another, but these are very rare). This generally limits the player to a single plane of movement, although he is often presented the opportunity to move to higher or lower areas through the use of ladders, stairs, elevators, or hills.

Agent 47 is given the ability to hop over minor obstructions in Codename 47, and other subsequent installments. In the fourth installment, Blood Money, he is now able to climb certain edifices (such as fencing, vines, loose bricks, crates etc.) and is also given with the option of climbing onto the top of elevators through the hatch, allowing the player to strangle a victim from above.

A major feature in the game is the tension meter or "Suspicion Meter", detailing how much attention or suspicion the player is receiving from the public or guards and is dependent on many things. For example, walking around in a guard's uniform with the correct corresponding gun will not gather much notice, whereas running around in a waiter's uniform in a restricted area while carrying a visible weapon instead of an appetizer tray will result in an unwanted confrontation with the guards.

The second game of the series, Silent Assassin, enforced the concept of kills without firing more than a single shot. As per the number of shots fired and stealth used, ratings were given after every mission. The best of these ratings was Silent Assassin, indicating no more than one shot per target (and a guard) with no alerts raised.

In most cases, 47 is required to hide any dead bodies, to prevent alarms. As introduced in Hitman: Blood Money, 47 can hide a body in a place such as a garbage dump/rubbish bin. Many targets can be assassinated without firing a single shot; this style of gameplay became more prevalent in Blood Money, where the focus was to make some of 47's hits look like accidents. Accidents can be caused remotely with RU-AP mines acting on some (usually heavy and suspended) object, directly by pushing someone over a railing, and by other, more elaborate methods such as:

  • Replacing a World War I replica gun to be used in the opera Tosca with a real World War I era pistol.
  • Crushing a man's neck using weights during his morning workout.
  • Rigging a grill to set a victim on fire.
  • Dropping an entire light rig on a target.

Methods of assassination[edit]

The Hitman series permits the player to kill targets (or non-targets) in a variety of ways, using firearms, melee weapons, or conventional objects that 47 picks up (such as shovels, fireplace pokers, pool cues, etc.). In Hitman: Contracts, melee weapons such as knives can be used to kill in more than one method, including forward stabs, horizontal throat slitting, frontal slashes, repeated stabs under the ribcage, or thrusting the blade into the carotid artery.

47 also has a garrote, or fiber wire. The fiber wire is specially made for strangulation, with reinforced handles. He carries it with him on every mission, even those in which he is stripped of all other weaponry. It is also one of the few weapons that can bypass metal detectors. 47 can also carry a suitcase containing a disassembled sniper rifle in some games, allowing him to carry a sniper rifle in the open without arousing suspicion. Alternatively, weapons can be carried on hand without appearing suspicious by wearing an appropriate disguise such as a soldiers uniform. 47 carries modified AMT Hardballers, nicknamed Silverballers, as his signature weapons.

To achieve the ideal Silent Assassin rank, it is required that 47 only kills his assigned targets, and few or no other NPCs. The sedative syringes, or chloroform in Hitman 2: Silent Assassin (which only has a temporary, dose-dependent effect, unlike syringes), exist for this purpose, so that 47 may incapacitate an innocent person to take items or clothing from their body without harming them, so it does not count against the player in the final ranking. In Blood Money, the ability to add sedatives to food and drink was added, to avoid direct confrontation. Blood Money also introduced the option to hold any NPC hostage using smaller arms and use them as a human shield, and allows the player to knock the hostage unconscious with the gun, saving the player sedatives for food items or any impeding characters that are seated in chairs. In some missions, if a murder can be made to look like accidental death (using the accident system introduced in Blood Money), some kills will not be counted as hits, but as accidents. Any civilians or armed personnel who witness a kill will count as witnesses, and will harm the player's rank if they remain alive or alert nearby guards. If however, someone (target or civilian) dies because of an accident, it will not matter if there are witnesses. 47 has the option of killing witnesses before they reach a guard, but the unnecessary murder will still count against his rank, unless he kills them with an accident. Witnesses also include anybody who sees 47 changing disguises or holding a weapon. In the games prior to Blood Money, the only consequence of having witnesses to a crime is that they will seek out police/guards and trigger an alert.

There are mission-specific options for killing a target in certain levels. Notable examples include locking a target in a sauna to stimulate a heart condition and cause cardiac arrest, poisoning a target's meal (this becomes more widespread in Blood Money), disguising 47 as a doctor and sabotaging a surgical operation, replacing a prop Mauser C96 handgun with a real one at an opera rehearsal, causing an actor to unwittingly kill the target, and causing stage pyrotechnics to explode and set the target on fire.

In most cases, it is required that 47 also hide the body of killed or unconscious victims, in order to avoid any unwanted alarm or if this is the desired effect 47 can leave the victims body in a wide open space for all to see. Hiding bodies of assassination targets is generally not required to achieve the Silent Assassin rank, allowing the player to kill the target in the open through use of poisoned food or drinks or by shooting them from a distance with a sniper rifle.

Characters[edit]

  • Agent 47 (voiced by David Bateson; played by Timothy Olyphant in the 2007 film and Rupert Friend in Hitman: Agent 47): The antihero protagonist and playable character of the series. He is a genetically-engineered clone created from the recombinant DNA of five of the world's most dangerous criminals to serve as their personal tool. The fact that the DNA came from multiple ethnicities allows 47 to blend in to a certain degree in most places in the world, or at least not look immediately suspicious and out-of-place. His name comes from the last two digits of a bar code on the back of his head – 640509–040147. 47 was trained as an assassin from a young age, and would put these skills to good use when he would eventually join the International Contract Agency (ICA). As revealed in the World of Assassination trilogy, 47 had experience as an assassin beforehand, having been forced to serve Providence, the organization that funded his and the other clones' creation, but forgot most of his past as a result of being injected with amnestic serums. According to Jacob Andersen, lead designer of Hitman 2: Silent Assassin, Agent 47 went from being "a mean old hairy guy" to having "hi-tech glasses" before getting to his current design.[45] More inspiration came from "comic books, Hong Kong movies," and other similar media.[46] According to game director Rasmus Højengaard, the idea of a clone whose future is decided by the people that created him, intrigued the Hitman team.[46] Højengaard felt the idea of creating the "ultimate assassin" by cloning "evolved with the character before the first Hitman game was done".[46]
  • Diana Penelope Burnwood (voiced by Vivienne McKee from Hitman 2: Silent Assassin until Hitman: Blood Money, Marsha Thomason in Hitman: Absolution, and Jane Perry in the World of Assassination trilogy; voiced by Lisa Jacobs in the 2007 film and played by Angelababy in Hitman: Agent 47): A member of the ICA who acts as 47's handler, briefing him before his missions and, sometimes, guiding him during his jobs as well. For most of his early career at the ICA, 47 never got to meet Diana face-to-face, only communicating with her through radio. They first got the chance to do so at the conclusion of Hitman: Blood Money. Blood Money was Diana's first major role in the series, as it saw her perform various feats, such as serving as a double agent, faking 47's death, saving the ICA from liquidation, and dodging attempts on her life a few times.[47] In the end, her efforts pay off when the ICA is brought back online.[48] In Hitman: Absolution, 47's loyalty to Diana is proven when he is ordered to kill her for seemingly betraying the ICA, only to end up helping her fake her death, look after a genetically engineered teenage girl she had rescued from a future life as an assassin, and carry out her secret plan to purge the ICA of internal corruption. The World of Assassination trilogy explores 47 and Diana's relationship in more depth than any previous installments. The games show their first interactions when 47 originally joined the ICA, revealing that Diana helped him pass his audition after her superior manipulated the tests in such a way to ensure 47's failure. It is also revealed that 47, during his days as a brainwashed assassin for Providence, killed Diana's parents. While she eventually discovers this in Hitman 3, Diana still sides with 47, and only pretends to betray him to give 47 a chance to eliminate Providence's leader Arthur Edwards (The Constant), which allows Diana to take over and dismantle the organization from the inside. In the 2007 film, Diana only communicates with 47 through a laptop that disguises her voice, though she does directly call him on the phone at one point, to tell him that the Organization (the film's version of the ICA) is after him.
  • Agent Carlton Smith (voiced by Noah Lazarus from Hitman: Codename 47 until Hitman: Contracts, David Andriole in Hitman: Blood Money, and Dave Hill in Hitman; played by James Faulkner in the 2007 film): A fairly inept American CIA agent with ties to the ICA. He has a tendency to be captured and tortured by the people he has been assigned to spy on. As a result, 47 found himself forced to rescue him on multiple occasions. Smith's torture experiences have caused him to take up drinking on the job, making him even more ineffective. Like 47, Smith dons a variety of disguises, but most often he's seen beaten and stripped down to his American Flag boxer shorts. He seems to regard 47 as a friend, but the feeling is not mutual. 47 initially treats his relationship with Smith as detached and professional, but as he is forced to rescue Smith again and again, he increasingly sees Smith as a hindrance. In Hitman: Blood Money, 47 threatens to kill Smith at one point, until he gives him a useful lead regarding an upcoming White House assassination. Smith's appearance changes somewhat in Hitman: Blood Money, having lost most of his hair through long term alcoholism and depression. However, he returns to his old look when he appears for a brief cameo in the 2016 Hitman game. In the 2007 film, Smith is portrayed as an elderly, very competent, and dutiful CIA agent, who in return for the assassination of a high priority CIA target (Udre Belicoff, the brother of 47's original target), helps 47 elude arrest by Interpol.
  • Mei-Ling (voiced by Claire Tsang): A young woman from the Chinese mainland, abducted and recruited into the brothel of Hong Kong crime lord Lee Hong. 47 rescues her in exchange for information about her employer in preparation for assassinating him.[49] After escaping from Lee Hong, Mei-Ling is revealed to be prostituting herself to Hayamoto, another Asian crime lord. 47 ends up rescuing her again (much to his consternation).[50] Mei-Ling is apparently the first woman who has ever kissed 47; his reaction is different in the original game from the remake. In the original Hitman: Codename 47, 47 reacts with revulsion. In the remake Hitman: Contracts, his reaction is one of detached bemusement. She was known as Lei Ling in the original game.
  • Dr. Otto Wolfgang Ort-Meyer (voiced by Kerry Shale): 47's creator and the main antagonist of Hitman: Codename 47. A brilliant but unhinged individual ostracized by the scientific community for his radical theories on genetic manipulation, Ort-Meyer ran a sophisticated lab hidden beneath a Romanian asylum. There he labored on DNA splicing in an effort to create a flawless human being. His ultimate goal was to create an army of obedient assassins. Ort-Meyer took a great part in raising and indoctrinating 47 at the asylum, where 47 was kept a prisoner until he matured. Ort-Meyer eventually engineered 47's "escape" from the asylum in order to test his performance in the real world. The consummate megalomaniac, Ort-Meyer later hired the ICA to kill 47's other four "fathers", who donated their DNA to Ort-Meyer to create the clones, because they had grown weary of funding him with little results, and relationships between them had soured. After 47 kills the four men and discovers the connection between, Ort-Meyer lures him into a trap at the Romanian asylum to be killed by his newest experiments, dubbed "No. 48s". However, Ort-Meyer underestimated how much 47 had advanced, as he killed the new batch of clones with his superior training, before murdering Ort-Meyer himself by snapping his neck. Ort-Meyer is posthumously mentioned in some of the later games, including the World of Assassination trilogy, in which it is revealed that he was a member of Providence, who funded his experiments in exchange for receiving some of the clones as personal assassins.
  • Lucas Grey / Subject 6 / Shadow Client (voiced by John Hopkins): A childhood friend of 47 from Ort-Meyer's asylum who aims to destroy Providence for controlling him and 47 and using them as assassins in the past. Grey is the mysterious Shadow Client who during the events of Hitman manipulates 47 and the ICA through contracting a series of seemingly unrelated assassinations, which have the goal to weaken Providence. In Hitman 2, he finally confronts 47 in person and helps him remember his past, before convincing him to help take down Providence. The two then work together to capture Arthur Edwards (The Constant), and locate the Partners, the leaders of Providence. Following the assassination of the Partners in Hitman 3, Edwards, who managed to escape custody, deploys mercenaries to capture Grey and 47. After being cornered, Grey chooses to commit suicide to protect 47. A vision of Grey later talks with 47 in a dream, convincing him that he has not been betrayed by his partner Diana and giving him the motivation to go after Edwards.
  • Arthur Edwards / The Constant (voiced by Philip Rosch): The top controller for Providence and the main antagonist of the World of Assassination trilogy. He first appears in Hitman where he approaches Diana about a potential alliance between Providence and the ICA to take down the Shadow Client, who has been manipulating the ICA into killing various Providence members. He offers to reveal information about 47's past in order to convince her. During the events of Hitman 2 Edwards is captured by 47, Diana and Lucas Grey who interrogate him to learn the identities of the Partners who control Providence. However, he later escapes, and assumes control as the head of Providence in Hitman 3, after 47 assassinates the Partners. Edwards uses his knowledge of 47's past to seemingly turn Diana against him, revealing that 47 killed Diana's parents. Diana then helps Edwards capture 47, but this turns out to be a ploy to get 47 close to Edwards in order to kill him. However, 47 may instead choose to inject Edwards with a memory-erasing serum, which the latter planned to use on 47 to turn him back into an assassin for Providence.

Hitman insignia[edit]

The Hitman insignia, a stylized fleur de lis, appears in Hitman: Codename 47 on the gates of Prof. Dr. Otto Wolfgang Ort-Meyer's asylum, throughout his laboratory and is formed by Ort-Meyer's pool of blood when 47 kills him at the end of the game. It also appears in 'Hitman: Contracts' on the floor of the cloning lab, this time as though it is the actual floor design, as well as on Ort-Meyer's belt buckle. In Blood Money, it appears on books throughout the levels as an easter egg.[citation needed]

The symbol is engraved on the handles of his custom AMT Hardballer pistol; they are referred to as "Silverballers" in Hitman: Contracts, Hitman: Blood Money and Hitman: Absolution. After Hitman: Contracts, the symbol is on the slides as well. It is also found on 47's equipment such as his laptop, briefcase and cell phone.[citation needed]

Reception[edit]

Aggregate review scores
Game Metacritic
Hitman: Codename 47 (PC) 73[51]
Hitman 2: Silent Assassin (GC) 83[52]
(PC) 87[53]
(PS2) 85[54]
(Xbox) 84[55]
Hitman: Contracts (PC) 74[56]
(PS2) 80[57]
(Xbox) 78[58]
Hitman: Blood Money (PC) 82[59]
(PS2) 83[60]
(Xbox) 81[61]
(X360) 82[62]
Hitman: Absolution (PC) 79[63]
(PS3) 83[64]
(X360) 79[65]
Hitman (PC) 83[66]
(PS4) 84[67]
(XONE) 85[68]
Hitman 2 (PC) 82[69]
(PS4) 82[70]
(XONE) 84[71]
Hitman 3 (PC) 88[72]
(PS5) 84[73]
(XSX) 88[74]

Main games[edit]

Hitman: Codename 47 received "mixed or average" reviews, according to review aggregator Metacritic. Jim Preston reviewed the PC version of the game for Next Generation, rating it three stars out of five, and calling it "A deeply flawed masterpiece that will, nonetheless, reward forgiving gamers."[75] Codename 47 received a "Silver" sales award from the Entertainment and Leisure Software Publishers Association (ELSPA),[76] indicating sales of at least 100,000 copies in the United Kingdom.[77] In April 2009, Square Enix revealed that Codename 47 had surpassed half a million sales globally.[78]

Silent Assassin received generally positive reviews from critics, who considered it to be an improvement over its predecessor in every aspect. The game was also a commercial success, having sold more than 3.7 million copies as of 23 April 2009, which makes it the best-selling Hitman game in the original series.[79] Contracts was met with generally positive reviews; praise was directed at the improved gameplay elements, graphics, soundtrack, darker tone and atmosphere, while criticism was reserved for the lack of significant improvements and the familiarity with the previous two games. As of April 2009, the game has sold around 2 million copies.[80]

Blood Money was a critical and commercial success, selling more than 2.1 million copies.[81] It has gained a cult following and is now considered by many publications and critics as one of the greatest video games of all time.[82][83][84] By contrast, Absolution was met with a polarized reception. Most positive comments were concerning the game's graphics, environments and locations, and the varied gameplay options. However, many critics disliked the game for its linear structure as opposed to the open ended nature of previous installments. As of March 2013, the game had sold over 3.6 million copies, failing to reach predicted sales targets.[85]

2016's Hitman received positive reviews; critics praised the game's episodic release format, locations, level design, and its replayability but criticized the always-online requirement and excessive handholding. The game under-performed commercially and caused publisher Square Enix to divest from IO Interactive in May 2017. Despite the slow start, IO Interactive announced the game had attracted seven million players as of November 2017 and more than 13 million players had played the game by May 2018.[86] Hitman was nominated for Best Action/Adventure Game at The Game Awards 2016 and Evolving Game at the 13th British Academy Games Awards.[87][88] Video game publication Giant Bomb named Hitman their Game of the Year in 2016.[89]

Hitman 2 was met with generally positive reviews, with most critics considering it to be an improvement over its predecessor. It debuted at tenth place in the UK's all-format sales charts.[90] In Japan, the PlayStation 4 version sold 10,162 copies within its debut week, which made it the fifth best-selling retail game of the week in the country.[91] The game was nominated for "Control Design, 3D" and "Game, Franchise Adventure" at the National Academy of Video Game Trade Reviewers Awards.[92]

Hitman 3 received generally favorable reviews, with most critics regarding it as the best entry in the World of Assassination trilogy, and some even calling it the best game in the franchise to date. The game was nominated for multiple year-end awards, and won several of them, including "PC Game of the Year" at the 2021 Golden Joystick Awards.

Spin-offs[edit]

Aggregate review scores
Game Metacritic
Hitman Go (iOS) 81[93]
(PC) 72[94]
(PS4) 77[95]
(Vita) 80[96]
Hitman: Sniper (iOS) 76[97]

Following its announcement, Hitman Go was met with some skepticism from critics. However, the game received a positive reception with praise for the art, aesthetics, simple gameplay mechanics, and translation of Hitman to a mobile device. It also received several nominations and awards from gaming publications and award organizations.

Hitman: Sniper was met with generally favorable reviews. Some reviewers praised the cleverness and minimalism of its puzzle design, but wanted more variety from its activity-dense scenarios.

Other media[edit]

Films[edit]

Hitman (2007)[edit]

A film adaptation of the game series was released in 2007. The film, titled simply Hitman, is set in a separate continuity from the game series, directed by Xavier Gens and starring Timothy Olyphant as Agent 47. Executive producer Vin Diesel was originally cast to play Agent 47 but was replaced for unknown reasons.[98] The film also stars Dougray Scott, Robert Knepper, Ulrich Thomsen and Michael Offei.[99] In the film, the International Contract Agency is replaced by a similar group called the Organization, which, like the ICA, benefits from ties to various government agencies, is neutral in global matters and morality, and performs missions all over the world. Unlike the game wherein the hitmen are contracted from a range of backgrounds, the Organization instead recruits orphans and trains them from an early age.

A reboot was planned but Olyphant stated on the Nerdist podcast that he had no interest in returning for a sequel and only did the original film in order to pay for his new house following the sudden cancellation of Deadwood.[100]

Hitman: Agent 47 (2015)[edit]

On 5 February 2013, it was reported that the film series was being rebooted with the title Hitman: Agent 47 directed by Aleksander Bach, Screenwriter of the original film, Skip Woods, wrote the screenplay with Mike Finch and starring Rupert Friend as 47 after Paul Walker, was originally cast,[101] was killed in a car crash on 30 November 2013.[102][103] The film also stars Zachary Quinto,[104] Hannah Ware,[105] Thomas Kretschmann,[106] Dan Bakkedahl[107] and Ciarán Hinds.[108]

In 2015, Hitman film producer Adrian Askarieh stated that he hoped to oversee a film universe with Just Cause, Hitman, Tomb Raider, Deus Ex, and Thief, but admitted that he does not have the rights to Tomb Raider.[109] In May 2017, the Game Central reporters at Metro UK suggested that the shared universe was unlikely, pointing out that no progress had been made on any Just Cause, Deus Ex nor Thief films.[110]

Television series[edit]

In 2017 Derek Kolstad, the writer of the John Wick films, publicly talked about his work on his TV show adaption of Hitman stating that it's "pretty much similar to the Jason Bourne films”. Kolstad has stated that his adaption of Agent 47 will differ slightly from that of the vision IO has already made. Despite being announced in 2017, Kolstad doesn't know when the TV series will start filming. As of December 2021, the show still doesn't have a cast list.[111]

Literature[edit]

Hitman: Enemy Within[edit]

William C. Dietz wrote the first novel in the Hitman book series, titled Hitman: Enemy Within. It was released on August 28, 2007 and published by Del Rey Books. Set between the events of 2002's Hitman 2: Silent Assassin and 2004's Hitman: Contracts, the novel centers around the Franchise (the main antagonists of the 2006 game Hitman: Blood Money), a rival contract killing organization that is trying to take down 47's employers, the ICA. The book has received fairly positive reviews, with an overall score of 3.8 out of 5 on "Goodreads.com", based on 573 reviews, and 4.5 out of 5 on Amazon.com, based on 144 reviews (as of December 2021).

Hitman: Damnation[edit]

The second novel in the Hitman book series, Hitman: Damnation, was written by Raymond Benson and was published on October 30, 2012. It serves as a tie-in and prequel to the 2012 game, Hitman: Absolution.

Agent 47: Birth of the Hitman[edit]

Agent 47: Birth of the Hitman is a six-issue comic book miniseries that ran from November 2017 to June 2018, and was later released as a graphic novel in 2019. The series ties-in with the World of Assassination trilogy and depicts 47's life before the events of the games, including his upbringing at Dr. Ort-Meyer's asylum and his previous career as a brainwashed assassin for Providence alongside his best friend, Lucas Grey / Subject 6. IO Interactive had complete control over the storyline of the comic.

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External links[edit]