A Look Back at the Evolution of the Hitman Franchise
There can be no doubt about the impact the Hitman franchise has had on our television and cinema screens. The brainchild of IO Interactive back in 2000, at the time of writing Hitman spans nine different games console titles, two novels, and two film adaptations. Certainly, there are a number of successful computer games out there but few rival Hitman in terms of the way in which the game’s unmistakable character has become such a household favourite.
In fact, those within Hitman fandom would probably argue that it’s become something of an institution. Perhaps one of the primary reasons why the storyline and Agent 47 resonates so well with fans is the simplicity of his objectives: kill his assigned targets in whichever way you deem fit – either a cold-blooded assassination from long-distance or a gory toe-curling slaughter.
As a bad guy, Agent 47 ticks all of the right boxes. He’s genetically engineered from the DNA of five of the world’s most deadly criminals and features DNA from ethnicities across all four corners of the world, allowing him to blend in anywhere on the planet for undercover missions. He’s certainly not your average Hitman, he’s the ultimate calculating and conniving assassin.
The first of the long line of Hitman video games hit the shelves during the turn of the Millennium with Codename 47. The first instalment revolved around Agent 47 breaking free of the asylum where he had been used as a laboratory rat for DNA testing. Upon escaping, Agent 47 enrols in the Agency, where his handler, Diana Burnwood, assigns him his first task of murdering four influential criminals.
Our personal favourite is Hitman 2: Silent Assassin,\ when Agent 47 resigns from the ICA and retreats to a church in Sicily to seek solace away from the violence he’d left behind. However, the kidnap of his mentor, Father Vittorio, sees him slip back into his old ways to seek and kill the kidnapper of his closest friend. After saving Vittorio, Agent 47 realises he can never escape his life as a Hitman and returns to work for the ICA.
Fast-forward 14 years and the latest in the Hitman computer games has also helped the franchise continue to catch the eye. The game’s developers, IO Interactive, opted to maintain the episodic-style of the stealth game, where even the actions of non-controllable characters can have a bearing on the outcome of how Agent 47 can kill his targets. The latest Hitman game was built for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, as well as the PC, with the ability to expand greatly upon the size of maps – some of them six, even seven times bigger than the biggest maps on the 2012 release, Hitman: Absolution.
Agent 47 is a character that’s so engaging given his cryptic past and, given the success of the transition from games console to movie screen for the likes of Tomb Raider, it was inevitable that Hitman would make that switch too.
The first movie adaptation was released a decade ago, using a plotline in a separate continuity to the game console series. Starring Timothy Olyphant of Deadwood fame as Agent 47 and directed by Xavier Gens, the film grossed $100m+, which comfortably surpassed the film’s $24m budget.
The latest film, released in 2015, titled Hitman: Agent 47, was co-written by Skip Woods who also had a big hand in writing the first film. This time, British actor, Rupert Friend would play Agent 47, a role that would help catapult him into Homeland. The film was another huge financial success, grossing over $82m at the box office.
The Hitman brand has continued to enjoy spin-offs on all manner of platforms. We’ve already mentioned the two hit novels, written by William C. Dietz, and it’s also worth noting Hitman’s emerging success in the iGaming sector, with online slots games developed around Agent 47 featuring on the Magical Vegas website. The casino page currently has a promotion on its NetEnt slots too (20 free spins), meaning that practising on the reels can be free.
The Hitman series has also kept up with the times and branched out into the smartphone gaming market with Hitman Go: a stealth centric turn-based strategy game that’s available to play on all of the latest smartphone devices.
We’re sure that few people back at IO Interactive in 2000 wouldn’t have imagined that Hitman would continue to be such a powerful storyline almost a generation on, but we wouldn’t have it any other way!