Each title follows the career of Agent 47 (voiced by David Bateson), a genetically-engineered, bald super assassin. Aided by his handler, Diana, he works for a clandestine agency while avoiding the law and rival assassins. Hitman levels are essentially standalone James Bond or John Woo movies in of themselves.
Players are scored on stealth, so ideally, you should only kill your targets and leave without alerting anyone, like a real assassin. That said, if (hah! when) you are discovered, or if you become addicted to the Ragdoll Physics, you can Rambo your way through everything in your path — but you won't escape the consequences if you leave a trail of bodies behind you. The missions aren't really designed for cover-based shooting, and you'll soon find that stealth is far more fun and rewarding. Or you can just cave their heads in with a fire extinguisher, that works too.
The games are well known for their replayability and emphasis on variation. Most missions are designed to be replayed multiple times, as there are many ways to achieve a kill. Sure, you can just shoot that target, but it feels a lot more gratifying to kill them by poisoning their food, putting a bomb in their car, dropping them off of a high place, or perhaps something more unique for the given situation. While certain methods must be used in order to reach the highest ranking, there is nothing in place to discourage experimenting, and the astute, intelligent, or observant player may find a solution to a problem they thought impossible.
Either way, tighten those leather gloves and straighten that red silk tie, because it's time to make a killing
To date, there are eight games in the main series:
- The classic series:
- The World of Assassination Trilogy:
- Hitman Trilogy (2007) — A box set that includes the PS2 versions of Silent Assassin, Contracts, and Blood Money.
- Hitman HD Trilogy (2013) — A compilation of all of the earlier games sans the first, but remastered for PS3 and Xbox 360. A digital bundle was also released for the 360, titled the Hitman HD Pack, containing just Silent Assassin and Contracts, aimed at players who already owned the standalone 360 version of Blood Money.
- Hitman HD Enhanced Collection (2019) — A compilation of Blood Money and Absolution for the PS4 and Xbox One, enhanced with 4K graphics.
- Hitman GO (2014), a turn-based puzzle game.
- Hitman: Sniper (2015), a mobile game similar to the Sniper Challenge included with Absolution and Hitman 2.
- Hitman Sniper: The Shadows (2021), a mobile game that stars Agents Knight and Stone, the sniper-assassin exclusive characters from Hitman 2, as well as three other members of Initiative 426; Soji, Kiya, Kolzak, codenamed: The Shadows.
- Agent 47: Birth of the Hitman (2017 - 2018), a comic book mini-series which serves as a prequel to all of the games in the main franchise, although it more directly connects to the World of Assassination Trilogy. It explores Diana's upbringing, 47 and 6's missions with The Institute for Human Betterment, as well as the leadup of events to them both working together at the ICA.
- Hitman: Enemy Within (2007), written by Raymond Bensen.
- Hitman: Damnation (2012), written by William C. Dietz.
- Overachievers: A Hitman Expanded Universe Story (2017), written by Michael Vogt.
If you're looking for the trope for the hitman character type, see Professional Killer. If you're looking for the comic book by Garth Ennis that Crosses The Line several billion times, look no further! And if you're looking for the short-lived, rather confusing Game Show, see here.